Dean of the College Terry Papillon has announced that teacher, writer, and editor Justin Taylor has been named the next director of the Sewanee School of Letters.
Taylor has taught writing at the graduate and undergraduate level in programs across the U.S., including most recently in the University of Montana M.F.A. program and at Willamette University as the 2018-2019 Presidential Distinguished Visiting Scholar.
Taylor is the author of the story collections Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever and Flings, and the novel The Gospel of Anarchy. His next book, the memoir Riding with the Ghost, is forthcoming this year. He serves as the fiction editor at the Literary Review.
"Justin will bring a new energy to the Sewanee School of Letters that can lead us into the future, building on the strengths created by previous directors John Grammer and John Gatta,” said Papillon. "His experience and professional stature as a writer will be very valuable, and I am awfully pleased to have Justin join us."
Taylor’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, and the Sewanee Review, among other publications. “From the first time I set foot on the Domain (for the Sewanee Review's 500th issue celebration), I knew that it was a special place, one with a strong commitment to both creative writing and the study of literature,” said Taylor.
“As the new director of the School of Letters, I hope to build on the School's record of success, find new ways to recruit and support students, and also to support the work of my counterparts at the Review and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Together, we'll write the next chapters of Sewanee's rich, storied literary history.”
Adam Ross, editor of the Sewanee Review, praised the decision to appoint Taylor: “This is enormously exciting, and will only bolster the program's reputation. For one, he's a writer of the first order, having distinguished himself as a critic, as an author of multiple story collections, and as a memoirist. He's also a great literary citizen, someone who has connections throughout the entire American literary community, and I'm certain he'll continue to bring remarkable teaching talent to the Mountain. Most importantly, he brings a vision to an already great program that will not only broaden its appeal but make it an even more decided leader in the field.”
The School of Letters is an innovative summers-only MA in English and MFA in creative writing program at the University of the South, home to a long-standing literary tradition. The School enrolled its first summer master’s degree students in 2006 and granted its first degree in 2009. Among its 112 graduates are Dana Award and Sinclair Award recipients, Pushcart Prize finalists, and a Grammy Award winner. For six weeks every summer, students and faculty have worked and lived on Sewanee’s mountaintop campus. This year, the summer session is being designed for remote learning to accommodate the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. An expanded roster of writers, scholars, and publishing professionals will “visit” the program throughout the 2020 session.
(Photo, Justin Taylor, credit KB Dixon)