Townsend Center for the HumanitiesThe Townsend Center for the Humanities invites Berkeley PhD students across the humanities to share their thoughts on the topics and/or guests for a fall writing workshop. Over the last decade, the landscape for more thoughtful writing about culture has been transformed by the emergence of para-academic venues like Public Books and the Los Angeles Review of Books; by the continued success of “little magazines” like The Believer, Catapult, Jacobin, Jewish Currents, n+1, The New Inquiry, and The Point; by the growth of digital platforms sponsored by legacy media like the New Yorker, Paris Review, The Atlantic, The New Republic, and the New York Review of Books; and by the openness of journals such as Post45 and ASAP/J to pieces outside the genre of the scholarly article. This workshop is meant to provide a space of intellectual inquiry and offer hands-on support for those interested in writing for a broader audience.

It’s imagined that the workshop will operate in a number of different ‘gears’:

  • Workshopping: over the course of a term, workshop participants will take a piece of theirs through stages of completion — from conceptualization (including how best to pitch a piece to editors) to drafting to workshopping.
  • Guest colloquium: the workshop will host periodic visits from writers, with roots in academia but with different writerly trajectories after their graduate career. In these colloquia, we will discuss both the guest’s writing and the more pragmatic aspects of their working life. (Some names floated in early discussions as possible guests: Hilton Als, Nicholas Dames, Cathy Park Hong, Grace Lavery, Jo Livingstone, Ismail Muhammad, Namwali Serpell, Christine Smallwood.)
  • Colloquium: the workshop will discuss a piece or set of pieces by a writer selected by a member of the workshop.

This workshop will offer a cross-disciplinary space where graduate students can, in a more focused way, explore the “how” of writing — partly by examining the models offered by other writers, and partly by paying more collective attention to our own prose.

We intend to launch this workshop this fall, so if you’re interested, please let us know by filling out this Google form.

Once we have a sense of the amount of interest in the workshop, we will send registration information.