Literary Arts at Brown is the hub of a vibrant, campus-wide literary community with an active slate of readings, plays, festivals and performances that gives student writers unique exposure to important voices in contemporary literature.


Each year, the Department sponsors between twenty and forty on-campus readings by distinguished and experimental writers. Recent readers have included W.S. Merwin, Marlon James, Wole Soyinka, Michael Ondaatje, Patricia Eakins, Zadie Smith, Gail Scott, John Kinsella, Kamau Brathwaite, Shahrnush Parsipur, and Marjorie Welish. Graduate students contribute their voices as well, taking part in the Night of a Thousand and One Readings and the MFA Presentation Series. In addition, Brown boasts a thriving literary scene that extends beyond the Literary Arts Program.  The President’s Lecture Series, Brown Bookstore, Student Lecture Committee and Library Forum each bring many renowned writers to campus.


Thanks to the generosity of the Beinecke Foundation and an anonymous donor, Literary Arts has been able to host major literary festivals each year since 1991. Over the last decade, these festivals have brought to Brown dozens of writers, filmmakers, theater artists and musicians from a wide variety of cultures and artistic traditions.  Some of our past festivals have included a Festival of African Writing; Unspeakable Practices II: A Celebration of Vanguard Narrative; Crossing the Line, a Cuban-U.S. exchange of non-linear narrative; Original Voices, a festival of innovative women writers; Queer Tales:  A Festival of Gay Fiction; over a dozen Freedom to Write conferences, and many others.


The Literary Arts Program has an active residency program that brings compelling writers to campus for week-long stays.  Resident writers read the work of graduate students and meet with them in informal conferences, giving useful new perspectives on works-in-progress. Past residents at Brown have included Charles Bernstein, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Robert Chibka, Nilo Cruz, Norma Cole, Maria Irene Fornes, Jorie Graham, David Foster Wallace, Jackson Mac Low, and many others. In spring 2019, Cristina Garcia and Dawn Lundy Martin are visiting through this program.


Each spring, the Literary Arts Program awards over a dozen prizes in various categories to original manuscripts written by graduate and undergraduate students. Judges are selected by the Literary Arts faculty; each prize includes a monetary award. Complete prize rules, deadlines, and application forms will be posted on this website during the spring semester.