The Department of English offers a robust calendar of free events open to the public, including lectures, readings, and more. Some of our annual lectures include the Berlin Lecture, the Collins lecture, the Gibson Lecture, the Kaplan Lecture, and the Troy Lecture. Our Visiting Writers Series features emerging and established writers of poetry, fiction and non-fiction.
Arthur F. Kinney Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies
The Kinney Center is a research institution serving a dedicated community of scholars, students, artists, and the general public whose mission is to support and promote interdisciplinary scholarship and public-facing humanities programming with the goal of exploring connections between the early modern world (c. 1400-1700) and our own. The Center's programming includes:
- Public conferences, workshops, lectures, classes, and performances
- A research library and rare book collection open to the public
- Historical gardens and orchards
The Berlin Lecture is held in honor of the late Normand Berlin, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His research interests ranged broadly, from Shakespeare to Eugene O'Neill. His publications include O'Neill's Shakespeare and The Secret Cause: A Discussion of Tragedy. For many years he taught a highly-attended community class at the Kinney Renaissance Center on Shakespeare.
The English Department's annual Dan S. Collins Lecture is held at the Arthur F. Kinney Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies each year and is delivered by a leading scholar in the field of early modern literature. The lecture is named for Dan S. Collins, a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1957 until his retirement in 1987. Collins co-founded English Literary Renaissance in 1971, a journal devoted to current criticism and scholarship of Tudor and early Stuart English literature, 1485-1665.
The Gibson Lecture honors Walker Gibson (1919-2009), Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1967 to 1987. He served as Director of the Rhetoric Program, the forerunner to the present Writing Program. He also began, in 1970, our doctoral program in Composition and Rhetoric Studies. Nationally, he was active in the National Council of Teachers of English, serving as President in 1973.
The Juniper Initiative for Literary Arts and Action engages the community at UMass Amherst and beyond with outstanding and diverse literary programming. It also provides opportunities for MFA candidates to develop professional skills, participate in critical issues of the day, and cultivate a network of professional and academic colleagues. Juniper Initiative programming includes:
- Visiting Writers Series
- Juniper Literary Festival
- Juniper Summer Writing Institute
- Juniper Institute for Young Writers and Juniper Young Writers Online
- Writers @ Work
The Kaplan Memorial Lecture was established by the English Department to present major figures in the field of American Studies and sponsor talks on the kind of intellectual topics Sidney Kaplan pursued—boundary-crossing enterprises like Jewish, multi-ethnic, feminist, and African American studies. Kaplan’s legacy extends especially to Black studies and Black history as well as studies of the relatedness in American culture of Black and white.
The Troy Lecture is our most important event of the year, as we bring to the campus eminent writers and scholars whose work brings into play the relationships of literature, culture, and civic responsibility. Since the lecture’s creation in 1987, we have hosted such figures as Nadine Gordimer, J. M. Coetzee, Seamus Heaney, Adrienne Rich, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Junot Díaz, and Judith Butler. The Troy Lecture is presented in honor of the late Frederick S. (Barney) Troy, Emeritus Professor of English, honorary professor of the University and former trustee.
Visiting Writers Series
The nationally renowned Visiting Writers Series at UMass Amherst presents emerging and established writers of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. The Series is sponsored by the MFA for Poets and Writers and the Juniper Initiative, and made possible by support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the University of Massachusetts Arts Council, and the English Department. Events are at 6pm. Readings are wheelchair accessible, free, and open to the public.