African American Read-In, 2020

The African American Read-In
Everyone listening intently

Mardi Gras, 2020

Rachel Swatzell reading
Everyone smiling
Dean Thomas and David Presley

The Tusculum Review, 2019 Launch

Graham Hillard, featured in The Tusculum Review, reading.
Katie Brooks reading an excerpt from her essay in the 2019 issue.
Kenneth Hill, an alumnus, speaks to the audience.

Dr. Matherly’s Book Launch for Echo’s Fugue

Dr. Matherly reading out of Echo’s Fugue.
Dr. Matherly smiling.
Dr. Matherly signing her book.

The Tusculum Review, Our International Literary Journal 

We are one of a handful of colleges in the US that offers our undergraduate students the opportunity to work for an international literary journal. Our journal allows students to learn and refine their skills as reviewers of literature, critics of visual art, and as editors of the written word. Students learn the ins and outs of navigating a publications office, from database management to pagination and layout. These opportunities provide our students with unique qualifications for graduate studies and employment in publishing and editing.

Andrew Blossom

Awards & Prizes

Our students compete for bragging rights and substantial monetary prizes in an in-house literary competition. The Curtis-Owens prizes, endowed by a distinguished Tusculum alum, are awarded annually in poetry, fiction, literary nonfiction, and scriptwriting. The prizes are judged by established, award-winning writers who visit the campus to give a reading and to announce their selections at an awards ceremony in the spring. Past judges include playwright David Muschell, poet Sally Keith, fiction writer Kellie Wells, essayist Patrick Madden, poet John Hoppenthaler, and essayist Erin Tocknell, fiction writer Charles Dodd White, essayist Julija Šukys, fiction writer Eric Lundgren, poet Ada Limón, and essayist Ethel Morgan Smith. In 2019, Mark Powell will serve as esteemed judge.


Poet John Hoppenthaler awards literary prizes to students.

Writing in the Classroom

Our students complete workshop intensive courses in poetry, fiction, literary nonfiction, and scriptwriting in addition to introductory and intermediate creative writing courses. Additionally, students present a senior capstone project in a genre of their choosing. Our writing students also take interest-based literature courses, including Literature of Conflict, Science Fiction, The Fantastic & the Uncanny in Literature, Literature Abroad, Folklore & the Fairytale, Myth & Making, World Literature, Minority Voices in American Literature, Genres in Shakespeare, and others, along with rad special topics courses and independent studies created by Tusculum English & Fine Arts professors.

Students read from their Senior Seminar capstone projects at a Spring Fine Arts Barbecue.

Reading & Travel Opportunities

Students visit Stonehenge while traveling for a British Literature course.

The Writing Program sponsors periodic public readings to showcase the creative projects of students. Frequent open mic nights are hosted at the University.  Senior writing students are honored annually with a formal public reading as part of Tusculum University’s Humanities Series. We often provide our students with field trips to attend readings, workshops, and craft lectures.

Students read from their Senior Seminar capstone works in a public reading to celebrate their completion of undergraduate studies.

Students present their Senior Seminar capstone works in a public reading to celebrate the completion of their undergraduate studies.

Students visit the Pantheon in Rome, Italy as part of a Literature Abroad course.

Students visit the Pantheon in Rome, Italy as part of our Literature Abroad course. On this journey, students also took a day trip to Florence.

Students work The Tusculum Review‘s Book Fair table at an AWP Conference in Boston. Our students have participated in AWP conferences in vibrant cities like Boston, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, and Tampa.

Many of our students are rewarded with a trip to the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs convention. Our students have attended and have been honored in the Meacham Writer’s Workshop at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.  Students in our program have been named winners and finalists in the poetry and fiction contests of the Lex Allen Literary Festival at Hollins University.

Writing students pose with visiting poets Ken Robidoux, Erin Elizabeth Smith, and Adam Clay after a Humanities Series reading.

Our program also frequently brings visiting writers to campus to read from their works and to visit classes, affording students valuable opportunities to meet and to work with esteemed working writers like Kellie Wells, Nate Pritts, Allison Joseph, Earl S. Braggs, Charles Dodd White, Adam Clay, Erin Elizabeth Smith, Sally Keith, John Hoppenthaler, Matt Hart, Abraham Smith, Tim EarleyEmilia PhillipsPatrick Madden, Julija ŠukysKatie Fallon, Ken Robidoux, Jeff Hardin, David Muschell, Erin Tocknell, D. Antwan Stewart, Kirsten Eve Beachy, Brent House, Nick McRaeAlex Quinlan, Catherine Meeks, Susan O’Dell Underwood, Eric Lundgren, Meagan Cass, Andrew Blossom, and others.

Curtis Owens Awards winners with judge Ada Limón

Curtis Owens Awards winners talk with judge Ada Limón after a reading.

Additionally, students in our program enjoy opportunities to write and travel abroad.  Most recently, creative writing students have traveled to London, England, Dublin, Ireland, Rome & Florence, Italy, and to Barcelona, Spain.

Students traveling as part of TU's Literature Abroad course visit the Charles Dickens Museum in London.

Students traveling as part of TU’s Literature Abroad course visit the Charles Dickens Museum in London.

Justin Phillip Reed, winner in the poetry category at the Lex Allen Literary Festival at Hollins University, has one of his prizes signed by the 19th U.S. Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey.

Students explore Chicago during an AWP Conference.

Student Successes

Students graduating from the Creative Writing Program at Tusculum have been accepted into first-rate graduate programs with excellent financial aid packages, full tuition waivers, fellowships, and teaching assistantships, including (but not limited to): Washington University in St. Louis, Chatham University, Columbia College (Chicago), the University of Central Florida, Florida Atlantic University, the University of Central Arkansas, the California Institute for the Arts, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Florida International University, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, the University of Memphis, the University of Tampa, Columbia College of Chicago, and Georgia College & State University.  Other students have followed up their undergraduate work with study in other areas of personal interest ranging from mortuary science to massage therapy.

Some of our students have taken teaching positions around the world; currently, students of our program have acquired  jobs teaching  English in Chile, the US, South Korea, and China.

Many of our students have won national awards for creative writing (including the National Book Award!) and have published in respected literary journals.

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Writing Students