Narrative journalist, editor, author and literary scholar Maggie Messitt will join the Journalism program in the Fall of 2019 as Denison’s first Writing in Place Fellow. Her role will support the campus-wide “Writing in Place” initiative across disciplines working with faculty to help them incorporate writing for broad audiences into the curriculum.

With a host of previous scholar-in-residence and fellowship positions to her credit, Messitt also brings a wealth of experience in investigative reporting and long-form journalism coupled with a passion for social justice and giving a voice to underserved rural communities.

“We are super-excited to announce that Maggie Messitt will be joining our Journalism team. I believe her extensive experience as a longform journalist and teacher make her a perfect fit with the work for Journalism at Denison. She will help us take what we’re already doing to the next level,” says Journalism Chair and English Professor Jack Shuler.

Based on eight years spent in the former Apartheid-era homelands of Lebowa and Ganzankulu, South Africa, Messitt’s first book, “The Rainy Season,” is a work of narrative nonfiction that was longlisted for the 2016 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award and an INDIES Book of the Year Finalist. While living in South Africa, Messitt became the editor and publisher of an award-winning community newspaper and the founding director of Amazwi, a nonprofit storytelling initiative and writing school for rural African women journalists.

Her latest endeavors include serving as national director of Report for America, where she places emerging and established journalists in local newsrooms across the U.S. to address critical coverage gaps, as well as teaching in the MFA program at Goucher College. Messitt spearheaded the launch of the first digital engagement site at Wisconsin Public Television and managed the production of multimedia storytelling projects aimed at localizing national issues. She has managed editorial projects for the BBC and POV Documentary Films and held fellowships at UC-Berkeley’s Knight Digital Media Center, Kenyon Review, Elizabethtown College, and Truman State University.

“It’s a real honor to come to Denison in this capacity. Journalism is guiding students toward fact-based storytelling at a critical time in our country,” says Messitt. “Journalism has the ability to explore complex issues, foster empathy, and help readers recognize the value of difference in our world. And, when embraced by professors and students across campus and within curriculum, it has the ability to bridge the divide we often don’t address well enough — between our classrooms and the community in which we reside.”

Since returning to the U.S., Messitt’s work also has been published in Creative Nonfiction, LA Review of Books, Mother Jones, River Teeth, Teaching Tolerance, World Literature Today, and elsewhere. Messitt holds a BA from Boston College, MFA from Goucher College, and PhD in Creative Nonfiction from Ohio University.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded a $700,000 grant to Denison University in 2018 for a campus-wide “Writing in Place” initiative to embed place-based narrative in the curriculum.

May 7, 2019