Beck Series

Here are just a few notable speakers from past years: 
  • Eudora Welty Pulitzer Prize winner for “The Optimist's Daughter”
  • Alice Walker Pulitzer Prize & National Book Award winner; author of “The Color Purple ”
  • Tom Stoppard Playwright & Oscar-winning screenwriter for “Shakespeare in Love”
  • W.S. Merwin Pulitzer Prize for Poetry winner & United States Poet Laureate
About the Series 

For over fifty years the Beck Series, funded by the Harriet Ewens Beck Endowment for English, has been a mainstay of creative writing studies at Denison University. The series provides students the opportunity to hear, study with, and engage some this country’s finest writers in the close quarters and pastoral setting of our hilltop campus in Granville, Ohio.

Harriet Ewens Beck, class of 1910, developed a lifelong love of poetry after studying high school English with Willa Cather in Pittsburgh. Upon her passing, her husband Gordon C. Beck (class of 1906), arrived on campus in 1960 and announced to Paul Bennett of the English Department, “I want to establish an enduring monument to Harriet, something that will honor her interest in writing.” Beck pledged to fund the endowment and then, over a lunch of peanut butter crackers and chocolate chip cookies in the Student Union, the two men outlined the plans of what would become one of most vibrant and dynamic reading series on any campus in this country.

The Beck Series first visitor was Eudora Welty, whose four-day visit came in April of 1964. She met with faculty, visited classes, and conferenced with students about their manuscripts. That first visit set the tone and template that defines the Beck Series. Visitors to Denison’s campus continue to share their work in public readings, meet with creative writing classes and the campus community, and work with students in one-on-one manuscript consultations or lead workshops. The generous gift from the Beck family has brought to Denison twelve United States’ Poet Laureates and over twenty winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, including Derek Walcott, Louise Erdrich, Mark Strand, Aleksander Hemon, Steven Millhauser, and Edwidge Danticat, to name a few. David Baker, Thomas B. Fordham Chair of Creative Writing, says, “The Beck Series has been one of Denison's jewels, a virtual anthology of American writing since 1960. New, emerging, established, and downright famous writers in every literary genre, from short poems to long novels, political, lyrical, confessional—every literary stance has been represented by our visitors.”

Series Archives

2016

Author Tarfia Faizullah (49963)
April 6, 2016
Denison's Beck Series welcomes award-winning author Tarfia Faizullah.
Author Lee Bebout (49964)
April 5, 2016
The Black Studies Program in co-sponsorship with the Beck Series welcomes author Lee Bebout.
Poet Laureate Robert Hass (55997)
March 10, 2016
The Beck Writers Series in partnership with the Vail Series welcomes Pulitzer Prize winner and Poet Laureate Robert Hass.
An interview with poet Laureate Robert Hass (55988)
March 10, 2016
The Beck Writers Series welcomes Pulitzer Prize winner and Poet Laureate Robert Hass.
Author Brad Watson (49965)
March 2, 2016
The Beck Series welcomes author Brad Watson.
Author Angela Pelster (49951)
February 17, 2016
The Beck Writers Series welcomes GLCA nonfiction winner Angela Pelster.
Author Piper Kerman (49967)
February 2, 2016
Denison's Beck Series welcomes "Orange Is the New Black" author Piper Kerman.
Beck Series features Denison professors (49553)
January 27, 2016
Beck Writers "Home Series" with Denison professors Michael Croley, Jack Shuler and Ann Townsend '85.

2015

Author Daniel Torday (47414)
November 2, 2015
The Beck Series welcomes author Daniel Torday.
Biographer Rosamund Bartlett (47413)
October 26, 2015
The Beck Series welcomes biographer Rosamund Bartlett.
The Beck Series welcomes poet Kevin Prufer (47339)
October 12, 2015
The Beck Series welcomes award winning poet and editor Kevin Prufer
Discussing 'The Rise of Michelle Obama' (48191)
October 5, 2015
The Laura C. Harris Symposium and Beck Lecture Series welcome author Peter Slevin as he discusses and reads from his book, "Unstacking the Deck: The Rise of Michelle Obama."
Author Laura Kasischke (38284)
April 1, 2015
The Beck Lecture welcomes author Laura Kasischke.
Author Ted Conover (39425)
March 27, 2015
The Beck Lecture Series welcomes author Ted Conover.
Poet Anne Barngrover '08 (38330)
March 26, 2015
The Beck Lecture Series welcomes poet Anne Barngrover '08.
Author Dinah Lenney (38304)
March 3, 2015
The Beck Lecture Series welcomes author Dinah Lenney.
February 5, 2015
The Laura C. Harris Symposium and the Beck Lecture Series welcome author Randa Jarrar presenting a lecture, "Mapping Home."
January 29, 2015
The Vail Series presents Poet Laureate Billy Collins.
Creative writing faculty and their work (47336)
January 1, 2015
The Beck Series welcomes creative writing faculty David Baker, Peter Grandbois and Margot Singer as they present their work.

2014

Author Sharon Bridgforth (38063)
November 4, 2014
The Black Studies Program and the Beck Lecture Series welcome fiction writer Sharon Bridgforth.
Author E.J. Levy (38041)
October 27, 2014
The Beck Lecture Series welcomes essayist, fiction writer and GLCA prize winner E.J. Levy.
Natalie Shapero (38027)
October 20, 2014
The Beck Lecture Series welcomes poet and GLCA prize-winner Natalie Shapero.
Poet Jamaal May (38008)
October 8, 2014
The Beck Lecture Series welcomes poet Jamaal May.
Author Karen Joy Fowler (37990)
October 1, 2014
The Beck Lecture Series welcomes author Karen Joy Fowler.
Essayist Andrew Lam (38414)
September 23, 2014
The Beck Lecture series welcomes essayist and fiction writer Andrew Lam.
April 8, 2014
The Beck Lecture Series welcomes poet Mary Ruefle.
Extraordinary essayist (38807)
March 13, 2014
The Beck Lecture Series welcomes essayist and fiction author Brian Doyle.
Award-winning fiction author (38705)
February 24, 2014
The Beck Series welcomes Ismet Prcic, the 2013 GLCA prize-winning author for fiction.
Prize-winning poets (38638)
February 6, 2014
The Beck Lecture Series welcomes Maggie Glover '05 and Page Starzinger as they read from their poetry.
Talking with authors (38639)
February 6, 2014
The Beck Lecture Series presents a talk with authors Maggie Glover '05 and Page Hill Starzinger.

2013

November 7, 2013
The Beck Lecture Series welcomes Benjamin Busch, GLCA Prize Winner for Creative Nonfiction.
November 5, 2013
The Tuesday Lunch Series welcomes Mark Seamon presenting “’Samuel Beckett for the Jon Stewart Generation’: Denison University Theatre presents Middletown by Will Eno.”
October 22, 2013
The Beck Lecture Series and Queer Studies Program welcome Alison Bechdel.
Novelist Stephen Graham Jones (38496)
October 9, 2013
The Beck Lecture Series welcomes Stephen Graham Jones.
Poet Dana Levin (38479)
October 3, 2013
The Beck Lecture Series welcomes poet Dana Levin.
Poet Philip Levine (38452)
September 18, 2013
The Beck Lecture Series welcomes Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Philip Levine
Pam Houston '83
September 10, 2013

Fiction Writer—winner of the 1993 Western States Book Award

David Shields
March 31, 2013

Nonfiction Writer—David Shields is the author of fourteen books

Kwame Dawes
March 17, 2013

He is a writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and plays.

Alan Heathcock
February 12, 2013

Fiction Prize Winner—Alan Heathcock’s fiction has been published in many of America’s top magazines and journals.

David Ebenbach
February 1, 2013

Fiction Writer and author of two books of short stories—"Between Camelots" (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005) and "Into the Wilderness".

2012

Lee Smith
November 13, 2012

Fiction Writer—Her novel "The Last Girls" was a 2002 New York Times bestseller as well as winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award

G.C. Waldrep
November 1, 2012

G.C. Waldrep, Bucknell professor, speaks on his writing and poetry.

Edwidge Danticat
October 3, 2012

Fiction Writer—Her work has appeared in The New Yorker and many anthologies.

Carl Phillips
October 3, 2012

Poet—author of 12 books of poetry

Jerry Ward
March 20, 2012

Jerry Ward is a poet, scholar, and author, and is professor of English and African American World Studies at Dillard University in New Orleans.

Modhumita Roy
March 12, 2012

Modhumita Roy is associate professor of English and director of the Women’s Studies program at Tufts University.

C.K. Williams
March 12, 2012

Winner of national acclaim and awards for his poetry, CK Williams will be sharing his poetry for for Beck Lecture Series.

Nick Lantz
March 11, 2012

Poetry Prize Winner—Lantz has won the 2011 GLCA New Writers Award, the Council for Wisconsin Writers Posner Award, and the Larry Levis Reading Prize

Michael Griffith
February 1, 2012

Fiction Writer—Griffith’s new novel, "Trophy" (Triquarterly), was named one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best 25 Books of Fiction for 2011