Living Writers Series, Post-Colgate

This fall, Colgate alumni and parents were given the opportunity to take Living Writers, an English class that has had a long tradition on campus, online. Just under 200 alumni and parents are participating this fall, where they will be able to read, discuss and listen to talks from international authors including Alexandra Fuller, Daniel Alarc??n and Salman Rushdie.

The online component of the course was initiated last year and has grown significantly from the 70 alumni and parents who participated in the fall of 2011. The idea for offering Liv-ing Writers online originated with President Jeffrey Herbst, who wanted to offer a class to alumni that was “exciting, well received and part of the DNA of Colgate.”

“Living Writers has had a very long past at Colgate since it was established around 30 years ago by the novelist Fredrick Busch,” Thomas A. Bartlett Chair and Professor of English Jane Pinchin, who co-teaches the class with Associate Professor of English Jen-nifer Brice, said.

While live streaming of the visiting writers is available to the public, the online course goes beyond the live streaming by offering active participation and discussion with Pinchin and Brice. Members of the online class engage in a discussion before the live stream of the reading with both professors and a third guest and participants also read and can comment on posts in the class blog.

“They seem to love both the contact with Colgate as well as the intellectual stimulation, which they seem to be so hungry for,” Brice said.

The majority of participants are alumni, though the class also includes parents of current students.

Kathleen Dill ’89, a current officer of the Alumni Council, said that the online class is strong because of its two professors.

“It’s terrific to see Professors Pinchin and Brice in action; they are such a special team and I appreciate that they can ap-proach the texts as professionals with specific disciplines and also as readers,” Dill said. “I really appreciate having an open, welcoming forum to discuss the books and question what we think, believe, trust.”

Pinchin and Brice said that it is very different, yet fruitful, to also teach the course to alumni and parents who are often no longer in school.

“It’s great watching people whose jobs may not take them in the direction of reading fiction or nonfiction but who nevertheless love it, and that’s such an enormous excitement,” Pinchin said.

Many of the alumni also took the Living Writers course while they were undergraduates at Colgate. Ceci Menchetti ’11 is tak-ing Living Writers for the third time; she took the course while at Colgate and has taken it both years it has been offered online.

“I decided to take the course both this year and last because I knew that Professors Pinchin and Brice curate such impressive lists of both prize-winning international authors and young, newer writers for the course. Their respective backgrounds in literary criticism and creative writing always create dynamic and interesting conversation,” Menchetti said.

Living Writers online also offers a way for alumni to con-nect with the university. The class started and will end with an optional event in New York City, which allows members of the class to meet each other and the profesors in-person.

“I’ve really enjoyed keeping in touch with the depart-ment and being able to connect with alumni whom I would otherwise never meet,” Menchetti said.

Contact Cassidy Holahan at [email protected].