Center for the Literary Arts invites community to launch event

The new center will serve as a hub for creative writers and translators at Washington University and beyond.

Following a Nov. 15 launch event, the Center for the Literary Arts will open up to the public, faculty, and undergraduate and graduate students at Washington University in St. Louis. As a signature initiative within the Art & Sciences Strategic Plan, the Center will be a place for writers, translators, and creators in fields related to the literary arts to gather. Beginning in January, the Center will be located in Jolley Hall on the east end of campus. Danielle Dutton, associate professor of English, and Ignacio Infante, associate professor of Spanish and comparative literature, were appointed as co-directors by Dean Feng Sheng Hu to oversee the development and make the Center’s mission come to life.

The Center for the Literary Arts plans to elevate scholarship, creative productivity, and opportunities across the literary arts, establish Washington University as a globally renowned literary arts community, and encourage creativity and community within the school and worldwide. Some of the programs that Infante and Dutton will establish within the Center for the Literary Arts include a creative practice workshop and a literary arts resource space. The Center will also provide support to the broader creative community through activities and events.

Center for the Literary Arts codirectors Ignacio Infante and Danielle Dutton greet visitors at the First Look Fair earlier this fall. The event introduced Arts & Sciences strategic initiatives to the community. 

The WashU Creative Practice Workshop will include internal faculty members, external residents, and creative/critical visiting scholars to lead these workshops. The Literary Arts Resource Space will include grant and fellowship support, creative professionalization activities and workshops, an independent publishing festival, and a toolkit specifically for undergraduates interested in the literary arts. As part of the Center’s commitment to Creative Community Support, it will take part in social and community-building activities and co-sponsor literary arts events.

Dutton, who teaches creative writing to both undergraduates and to graduate students in the English department’s acclaimed MFA program, looks forward to expanding the energy and community she finds in her courses. She thinks that the Center for the Literary Arts will galvanize students’ passion for creative writing and creative practice.

“One of my favorite classes to teach is ‘Introduction to Fiction Writing.’ I love it because it’s a class that gets students from all over the campus,” she explained. “I’ll have first-years through seniors in every class, and I’ll have people who are pre-med and I’ll have computer engineering students. Every class has this totally diverse cross section of the community on campus, but everyone in there really loves to write and is really excited to read stories and write stories together.”

Infante is looking forward to putting WashU on the map as a center for innovative and transnational creative literary arts. “I’m excited to have WashU become one of the most exciting places to go to do literary arts work. The same way that people know the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, I’m excited to make sure that WashU becomes one of these places.”

Students, faculty, and staff will be able to learn more about the Center for the Literary Arts at the launch event to be held Nov. 15 at the Formal Lounge in the Women’s Building from 9–11 a.m.