Links
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu
About

The Writer-in-Residence Program

The History Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is dedicated to the idea that an understanding of the past is essential to living in a vibrant democracy. As a measure of that commitment, the Department of History's Writer-in-Residence program facilitates sustained conversation with widely-read authors whose historical work engages broad public audiences.

Each year, with major funding from Five Colleges, Inc., we bring a writer of national prominence to campus for a week-long residency in order to give focused attention in our graduate training to writing for a range of audiences and in a variety of venues well beyond the monograph or scholarly article. Our guest visits courses and seminars, meets with students and faculty over coffee, lunches and dinners, and gives a public lecture on campus or in Amherst. The residency is embedded within our signature seminars, Writing History and History Communication. In this way, graduate students from UMass Amherst expand their ability to write for a wider array of readers, sharing the insights of our discipline both within the academy and well beyond.


2018 Writer-in-Residence: Aurora Levins Morales

Public Lecture: "Memory is Our Soil: Bringing History into the Commons" 
Tuesday, April 17, 4:00 pm, UMass Amherst Student Center Ballroom

Aurora Levins Morales will be in residence from April 17-21.

Aurora Levins Morales is a Puerto Rican Ashkenazi Jewish feminist writer, historian and well-rounded radical. She is the author of six books including Medicine Stories, Remedios: Stories of Earth and Iron from the History of Puertorriqueñas and Kindling: Writings on the Body. Her work has appeared in dozens of anthologies, is widely taught, and has been translated into seven languages.  She produces Letters from Earth, an environmental justice podcast, and is a member of JOCSM, the Jews of Color, Sephardi and Mizrahi Caucus partnership with Jewish Voice for Peace, and the JVP Artists’ Council. She lives in a tiny house in Northern California. 

More info herePhoto credit: Linda Haas.

 


2017 Writer-in-Residence: Allyson Hobbs

"Far From Sanctuary: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights"

Allyson Hobbs is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Director of African and African American Studies at Stanford University.  She is a contributing staff writer for the New Yorker.com and a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. Allyson’s first book, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, won the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for best first book in American history and the Lawrence Levine Prize for best book in American cultural history. Hobbs is a contributing staff writer for New Yorker.com. She has given a TEDx talk at Stanford, and has appeared on C-Span, MSNBC, and National Public Radio. Her work has been featured on cnn.comslate.com and in the New York Times, the Los Angeles TimesThe Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Christian Science Monitor.


2016 Writer-in-Residence: Rebecca Onion

Public Lecture: "Truth, Lies, Clicks, and Shares: How History is Faring on the World Wide Web."

Rebecca Onion received her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, and her BA from Yale. Her book, Innocent Experiments: Childhood and the Culture of Public Science in the United States, will be published in 2016 by the University of North Carolina Press. She writes about history and culture for print and online media outlets, including Slate.com. Official Website.

 


2015 Writer-in-Residence: Amy Wilentz

Public Lecture: "Haiti's Earthquake and the Limits of Charity."

Amy Wilentz is the winner of the Whiting Writers Award, the PEN Martha Albrand Non-Fiction Award, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Award. In 2014, she won the National Book Critics Circle Award (Autobiography) for her book Farewell, Fred Voodoo. Wilentz has also written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, the Village Voice, the London Review of Books and many other publications. She is a long-time contributing editor at The Nation. She teaches in the Literary Journalism program at the University of California at Irvine. Official Website.

 


2014 Writer-in-Residence: Adam Hochschild

Public Lecture: "Rewriting the Spanish Civil War."

Adam Hochschild is the author of several books, including King Leopold’s Ghost andFinding the Trapdoor, a collection of his shorter pieces. His 2005 book, Bury the Chains, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the L.A. Times Book Prize. While visiting UMass Amherst as our 2016 Writer in Residence, Hochschild was at work on his 2016 book Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. Hochschild began his journalism career as a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle. Subsequently he worked as a magazine editor and writer, at Rampartsand Mother Jones. His work has been published in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine and other newspapers and magazines. His magazine writing has won awards from the Overseas Press Club, the Society of Professional Journalists and elsewhere. Hochschild has consulted for the BBC and has taught writing workshops for working journalists in the U.S., Britain, Zambia, South Africa and India.

 


2013 Writer-in-Residence Robin Kelley

Public Lecture: "The Long Rise and Short Decline of American Democracy."

Robin Kelley is an American historian whose research and teaching interests range widely, covering the history of labor and radical movements in the U.S., the African Diaspora, and Africa; intellectual and cultural history (particularly music and visual culture); urban studies, and transnational movements. Some of his most popular books include Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original,and Yo’ Mama’s DisFunktional!: Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America. His essays have also appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The African Studies Review, The Journal of American History, and many others. He visited UMass in March 2013 to meet with classes and give public talks on “The Long Rise and Short Decline of American Democracy” and his current book project on Grace Halsell, a white journalist known for her experiments in racial and cultural crossing.

 


2012 Writer-in-Residence Tony Horwitz

Public Lecture: "Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War"

Tony Horwitz is a native of Washington, D.C., and a graduate of Brown University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting and worked as a staff writer for The New Yorker before becoming a full-time author. Several of his books have been national and New York Times bestsellers: A Voyage Long and Strange, Blue Latitudes, Confederates in the Attic, and Baghdad Without A Map. He lives with his wife, Geraldine Brooks, and their sons, Nathaniel and Bizu, on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

 


2011 Writer-in-Residence Jill Lepore

Jill Lepore is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History at Harvard University. She is the co-founder of the magazine Common-place and a board member of the National Portrait Gallery and the Society of American Historians. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The New Yorker, the Times Literary Supplement, American Scholar, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, The Daily Beast, The Journal of American History, andAmerican Quarterly. She has one the Anisfield-Wolf Award for the best non-fiction book on race, the Bancroft Prize, and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize. Her book The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History (Princeton, 2010) was a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice. Her most recent book is Joe Gould's Teeth, published by Knopf in 2016. The Secret History of Wonder Woman (Knopf, 2014) was a New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2015 American History Book Prize.

 


2010 Writer-in-Residence Debby Applegate

Debby Applegate is best known for her book The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, which earned her a Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 2007. She has taught at Yale and Wesleyan University and serves on the board trustee of The New Haven Review. Applegate is an alumna of Amherst College '89. She completed her Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale.

 


2009 Writer-in-Residence Russell Shorto

Russell Shorto is perhaps best known as the author of The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America as well as Descartes' Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason and Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City. He is also a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and heads The John Adams Institute in Amsterdam.

 


2008 Writer-in-Residence Charles C. Mann

Charles C. Mann is a correspondent for Science and The Atlantic Monthly, and a three-time finalist for the National Magazine Award. However, he is best known for his books 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, which won the National Academies Communication Award, and 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. More recently, he published 1493 for Young People: From Columbus's Voyage to Globalization. As the UMass Depertmant of History's Writer-in-Residence, Mann met with a number of undergraduate and graduate classes in the History, Journalism, and Anthropology departments. His public lecture discussed how to bring historical and scientific research to non-academic audiences.

 


2007 Writer-in-Residence Charles Sennott

Charles Sennott, the 2007 Writer-in-Residence, is an award-winning journalist and a former Middle East and European bureau chief for the Boston Globe. During his long career as a reporter and on-air analyst, he covered international stories such as the first World Trade Center bombing and the oil industry in Saudi Arabia. He has also produced an array of multimedia works. He is currently the Vice President and Executive Editor of GlobalPost news. Sennott completed his undergraduate degree in History at UMass Amherst and an M.S. at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

 


2006 Writer-in-Residence Dennis McNally

Dennis McNally, who completed his PhD at UMass Amherst, is the longtime publicist for The Grateful Dead and the band's official biographer. He is also the author of the book, Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, a work based on his doctoral dissertation.