Behind the Scenes of the Living Writers Series

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Ten authors. Fifty students. Hundreds of virtual participants. One course. 

The Living Writers series, one of Colgate University’s signature classes, has garnered national acclaim for creating community. Since its inception in 1980 by Professor Emeritus Frederick Busch, Living Writers has welcomed an array of writers, from up-and-coming novelists to Pulitzer Prize winners.

Associate Professor of English Jennifer Brice leads the series, organizing a public talk, reception, and book signing for each guest writer. She also partners with her colleagues from across the university — including President Brian W. Casey — to record 20-minute podcasts in which they discuss each title.

“Living Writers is an intense immersion into literature,” Brice said. “It takes a village to put it on: students, faculty, alumni, IT technicians, caterers.”

CJ Hauser, associate professor of English, will present her novel Family of Origin on November 14. Hauser noted that joining the Living Writers circle offers an exciting opportunity for her as both a professor and a writer.

“I’m so thrilled,” Hauser said. “Living Writers allows us to look critically at contemporary literature — to have serious conversations about its craft and art, to heed the larger political moment it ties into.” 

When arranging the lineup of authors, Brice strives to maintain diversity. “I look for gender balance, as well as ethnic and national diversity,” she said. “It’s wonderful to have writers from around the world.”

Student researchers Katie Roell ’21 and Carina Haden ’21 assist Brice with Living Writers preparation during the summer, meeting regularly to confer about the texts. They also construct an online companion course for alumni and parents by curating reviews, interviews, and articles about each author and title, and assembling the podcast book conversations by Colgate faculty. 

Roell enjoys applying research methods to cultivate a nuanced understanding of literature. “The deeper I analyze these books, the more questions I have for their authors,” she said. “I can’t wait to meet them in the fall.” 

To access the full list of authors and learn more, visit