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

View archives »

About the Series 

For over fifty years the Harriet Ewens Beck Series 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.”

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Michael Croley
Visiting Assistant Professor

Series Archives


March 3, 2015

The Beck Lecture Series welcomes author and actor Dinah Lenney.


November 7, 2013

The Beck Lecture Series welcomes Benjamin Busch, GLCA Prize Winner for Creative Nonfiction.

October 22, 2013

The Beck Lecture Series and Queer Studies Program welcome Alison Bechdel.

September 18, 2013

Philip Levine, Pulitzer-Prize winning poet, reads from his work as part of the acclaimed Beck Lecture Series.

April 3, 2013

Nonfiction Writer–David Shields is the author of fourteen books

March 21, 2013

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

February 26, 2013

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

February 8, 2013

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


November 27, 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

November 6, 2012
October 25, 2012

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

October 8, 2012

Poet–author of 12 books of poetry

September 19, 2012

Fiction Writer–winner of the 1993 Western States Book Award

April 9, 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.

April 5, 2012

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

March 28, 2012
March 20, 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

February 8, 2012

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


November 30, 2011

Peter Grandbois is the author of the novel The Gravedigger.

November 8, 2011

Gretel Ehrlich is the author of thirteen books, including three books of narrative essays, a novel, a memoir, three books of poetry, a biography, a book of ethnology/travel, and a children’s book, among others.

October 11, 2011

Poet Debra Allbery is the Director of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.

September 13, 2011

Derek Mong was the 2008-2010 Axton Fellow in Poetry at the University of Louisville, where he taught literature, creative writing, and hosted “The Soul That Grows in Darkness: The Axton Festival of Film and Verse.”

September 6, 2011

Born in Western Australia, GLCA award-winning novelist and short story writer Goldie Goldbloomnow lives in Chicago with her eight children and a cat.

April 12, 2011

Ernesto Cardenal - Twice Nobel Prize nominated author of more than thirty-five books, the Nicaraguan writer, priest, and activist, Ernesto Cardenal has always considered poetry as a powerful agent for constructive social change.

April 6, 2011

Laura Munson '88 is the author of The New York Times and international bestselling memoir, This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam 2010), which Book of the Month Club named one of the best books of 2010.

March 24, 2011

Marjorie Welish, an artist, poet, painter and critic, received her M.F.A. degree from Vermont College, Norwich University.

March 2, 2011

Aleksandar Hemon was born in 1964 in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

February 17, 2011

Michael Collier has published five books of poems: The Clasp and Other Poems; The Folded Heart; The Neighbor; The Ledge, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and most recently, Dark Wild Realm.

January 31, 2011

Josh Weil was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of rural Virginia to which he returned to write the novellas in his first book, The New Valley (Grove, 2009).


April 14, 2010

Michael Pollan is the author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, winner of the James Beard Award, and The Omnivore's Dilemma, which was named one of the ten best books of the year by both the New York Times and the Washington Post.

April 6, 2010

Lisa Suhair Majaj is a Palestinian-American poet and scholar.

March 30, 2010

Poet Katy Lederer will read from her recent work.

March 30, 2010

Novelist Martha Moody and poet Katy Lederer will participate in a panel discussion on writing and other careers.

March 2, 2010

Antonya Nelson teaches at the University of Houston, where she holds the Cullen Chair in Creative Writing.

February 8, 2010

Aracelis Girmay, the winner of the 2009 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award for poetry, will read from her latest work, Teeth (Curbstone Press, 2007).


December 9, 2009

Don Waters has received numerous fellowships and honors for his writing, including the Pushcart Prize, the Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame, and the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award in fiction.

November 18, 2009

Kazim Ali teaches creative writing and literature at Oberlin College.

October 29, 2009

Moustafa Bayoumi is an associate professor of English at Brooklyn College, the City University of New York.

October 13, 2009

David Baker is Professor of English at Denison University and holds the Thomas B. Fordham Chair of Creative Writing.

September 29, 2009

Jill Bialosky is a native of Cleveland and works as Senior Editor at W. W. Norton in New York City.

April 7, 2009

Lee Martin is the author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Bright Forever; a novel, Quakertown; a story collection, The Least You Need to Know, and two memoirs, From Our House and Turning Bones.

April 1, 2009

Alison Stine is a Denison graduate (2000). OHIO VIOLENCE, her first book, winner of the 2008 Vassar Miller Prize, will be published by the University of North Texas Press.

March 3, 2009

Ellen Bryant Voigt is the author of several collections of poetry, including Shadow of Heaven, a finalist for the National Book Award, and Kyrie, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

February 24, 2009

Steven Mailloux is the Chancellor's Professor of Rhetoric at UC Irvine in the School of Humanities.

February 3, 2009

Andy Mozina is the author of the short fiction collection The Women Were Leaving the Men which was the 2008 winner of the GLCA New Writers Award for Fiction, and a finalist for the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction.


November 10, 2008

Born in 1949, Mark Halliday earned his B.A. at Brown University in 1971, an M.A. in creative writing at Brown in 1976, and a Ph.D. in English Literature at Brandeis University in 1983.

October 30, 2008

Ander Monson is the author of the novel Other Electricities and the poetry collection Vacationland.

October 2, 2008

Vasugi V. Ganeshananthan, a fiction writer and journalist, lives in New York.

September 10, 2008

Dick Davis was born in Portsmouth, England, in 1945, and educated at the universities of Cambridge (B.A. and M.A. in English Literature) and Manchester (PhD. in Medieval Persian Literature).


December 4, 2007

Meghan O’Rourke was born in Brooklyn in 1976.

November 1, 2007

Kevin McIlvoy teaches at New Mexico State University where he has been editor in chief of Puerto del Sol magazine for twenty-seven years.

October 8, 2007

Margot Singer is the author of The Pale of Settlement (University of Georgia Press, 2007), winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction.

October 3, 2007

Jack Wilkins is one of the world’s premier jazz guitarists and music educators.

September 24, 2007

Poet, professor, and performer, Karen Alkalay-Gut has published over 20 books of poetry and has read her poetry in places as diverse as Oxford University, the Nuyorican Café in New York, the UN, the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, the Arab and Druze towns of Tarshiha and Mghrar, synagogues, churches, and Jerusalem night clubs and poetry centers.

September 18, 2007

Jay Hopler was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in1970 and has earned degrees from New York University, The Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.