Alan Cheuse International Writers Center
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Cheuse's legacy lives on in new center

by Jamie Rogers


This article originally appeared in George Mason University News on November 7, 2016.

George Mason University professor Alan Cheuse was known for being an advocate for his creative writing students. So it’s fitting that a writer center has opened on the Fairfax Campus that embodies his ideals.

The Alan Cheuse International Writers Center will serve as a springboard for George Mason’s graduate creative writing students as they begin the study-abroad process, offer a home for established writers with residencies at Mason, and provide a hub for diverse conversations about art, literature and international issues, said Matthew Davis, the center’s founding director.

Mason’s study-abroad programs are geared toward the undergraduate student, said Debra Lattanzi Shutika, the chair of Mason’s English Department.

“It’s very unusual for a graduate student to study abroad in a formal way. We’ll be offering them fellowship money so they can do a residency abroad,” she said.

Graduate students would be encouraged to visit different areas while abroad, as long as it is safe, said William M. Miller, director of the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at George Mason and a key player in the planning of the center.

“The experiences you have overseas deeply impact not just your worldview, but your art. That’s something that Alan would be hugely in favor of,” Davis said.

The center will host international writers and be a cultural and diplomatic hub that uses creative writing as a means for greater international dialogue and understanding. To accomplish that, organizers will work with Washington, D.C., think tanks, embassies and universities on events and programming both on and off campus.

“We want to be what people think about when they think about the merging of creative writing and internationalism in Washington, D.C.,” Davis said.

Cheuse died July 31, 2015, from injuries he’d suffered two weeks earlier in a car crash in California. He was 75. In addition to spending more than 25 years teaching in Mason’s Creative Writing Program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Cheuse was a well-known book reviewer who appeared regularly on National Public Radio.

Center leaders plan to bring in at least one internationally known writer during the 2016-17 academic year.

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