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Authors at Bookmark Series share writing experiences

By Ashanti M. Alvarez

bookmarkThere is one thing that scholars across all academic disciplines have in common: writing.

From creative writing to expository writing, historical writing to scientific writing, faculty at Rutgers rely on the written word to advance new theories, report breakthroughs, and critique existing thought.

The process involves early mornings or late nights spent in offices, at library desks, or on laptops at coffee shops; figuring out how to organize ideas into chapters; searching for illustrations, archival photos, and artwork; and waiting anxiously through the submission, editing, and production process.

The Bookmark Series, held at the Department of English’s Writers House, serves as a new venue for academic writers to share their experiences and insights into the writing process.

“We mean to demonstrate that writing does not belong simply or exclusively to the English department, but that writing belongs to all the disciplines,” said Richard E. Miller, chair of the English department.

carla yanni
Credit: Nick Romanenko
"There are all kinds of people writing books, and this is a
forum for people to talk about writing, whether it's creative
writing or nonfiction," said Carla Yanni, associate professor
of art history and author of The Architecture of Madness.

The Bookmark Series is a joint endeavor of the English department and the Rutgers University Bookstore.

“The bookstore has a very strong bond with the English department,” said Jennifer McLarney, trade book manager at the Rutgers University Bookstore. “We were trying to think of a way to highlight authors across the disciplines, not to just think about authors from the English department. We wanted the series to reflect a broad range of topics.”

McLarney said that in the past, book events held at the Rutgers bookstore saw low attendance.

“Because of our location [in the Ferren Mall in New Brunswick], we found that having events on campus led to higher attendance,” McLarney said.

McLarney, as well as Miller, noted that Writers House, located on the ground floor of Murray Hall on the College Avenue Campus, is an environment more conducive to intimate discussions of the broadest insights into the writing process, as well as the nuts and bolts of publishing academic work.

Writers House was established last October as a place where undergraduate students can explore creativity and the constructive powers of writing in a collaborative, multimedia environment. An event focusing on faculty scholarship and writing offers those students the opportunity to mingle with their instructors and learn about the other job of a Rutgers professor, one that many students seldom contemplate.

Carla Yanni, an associate professor of art history at the School of Arts and Sciences who just published The Architecture of Madness, is a featured author at the March 4 Bookmark Series event. Associate Professor of History Alison Isenberg will join her.

“This is a forum for people to talk about writing, whether it’s creative or nonfiction. I have had a lot of chances to talk about the content of my book, but I haven’t had a chance to talk about the process of writing it,” Yanni said. “As an architectural historian, I think I can share with people some of the pragmatic issues related to getting photographs and illustrations for a book.”

Yanni said she hoped the discussion would focus on the growing number of scholars interested in visual culture and using those representations in their books.

Miller said Writers House anticipates holding three or four events per semester. “Although we are not in a position to recognize every publication success, we are working to put together programs that will highlight for the students and for the university community the broad range of writing practices that are to be found at Rutgers.”