Mary Routt Chair of Writing

The Mary Routt Chair of Writing position was made possible by a donation from journalist Mary Patterson Routt, who was a member of the first board of trustees for Scripps College, serving in that capacity from 1926 to 1965 and playing an active role in the development of the college. Her donation allows the Writing Program to invite a nationally recognized professional writer to campus each spring, where he or she will teach a semester-long course in his or her specialty, deliver public presentations, and arrange for other acclaimed writers to visit campus for readings.

Spring 2024 Mary-Alice Daniel Mary-Alice Daniel was born near the Niger/Nigeria border and raised in England and Tennessee. A cross-genre writer, she has published in New England Review, American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Iowa Review, and The Yale Review. Mass for Shut-Ins, her first book of poetry, won the 117th Yale Younger Poets Prize and was released in March 2023. Selecting the manuscript, Rae Armantrout called it “Flowers of Evil for the 21st century.” Her tri-continental memoir, A Coastline Is an Immeasurable Thing (Ecco/HarperCollins 2022), was People’s Book of the Week and one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Nonfiction Books of the Year. An alumna of Yale University (BA), the University of Michigan (MFA), and USC (PhD), she served as the Donald L. Saunders Postdoctoral Fellow at Brown University. Turning to her third and fourth books of poetry and prose, she is recalled to California for the third time.
Spring 2023 Jean Chen Ho Jean Chen Ho is the author of Fiona and Jane (Viking 2022). Her writing appears in New York Times Magazine, The Cut, Electric Literature, Los Angeles Times, Georgia Review, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar, Guernica, and elsewhere. Jean is a doctoral candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at USC, where she is a Dornsife Fellow in fiction. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Jean is a board member at Kaya Press, an independent publisher of experimental writing from the Asian Pacific Islander diaspora. Born in Taiwan and raised in Southern California, she currently lives in Los Angeles.
Fall 2022 Ariana Reines Ariana Reines is a poet, playwright, performing artist, and translator. Her books include A Sand Book (2019), winner of the 2020 Kingsley Tufts Prize and longlisted for the National Book Award. Other books include The Cow (Alberta Prize, 2006), Coeur De Lion (2007), and Mercury (2011), all from FENCE, and The Origin of the World (2014) from Semiotext(e). Her Obie-winning play Telephone (2009) was commissioned by The Foundry Theatre and has been performed in Norwegian translation (2017) and at KW Berlin (2018) among others. Current commissions include Possession (2023), a sculpture and performance collaboration with Liz Magic Laser, at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, NY, and Divine Justice (2022), a 24-hour theatrical environment at Performance Space New York. She has taught at Columbia University, the European Graduate School, NYU, Tufts, Naropa, The New School, Yale, and many others. In March 2020, while a Divinity student at Harvard, she created Invisible College, a hub for poetry, art, & sacred study online. She lives in Upstate New York.
Spring 2021 Joan Naviyuk Kane Joan Naviyuk Kane is Inupiaq with family from King Island (Ugiuvak) and Mary’s Igloo, Alaska. Among many other honors, she was a Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry and winner of an American Book Award. Her work includes eight collections of poetry and prose, including Dark Traffic, which is forthcoming in the 2021 Pitt Poetry Series. She’s currently a visiting lecturer in the Department of English at Harvard University, a lecturer in the Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism and Diaspora at Tufts University, and faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts, as well as a Mellon Visiting Fellow at the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Brown University.
Spring 2020 R.O. Kwon  R.O. Kwon’s nationally bestselling first novel, The Incendiaries, is published by Riverhead (US) and Virago/Little Brown (UK), and it is being translated into seven languages. Named a best book of the year by over forty publications, The Incendiaries received the Housatonic Book Award and was a finalist or nominated for seven other prizes, including the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award for Best First Book and Los Angeles Times First Book Prize. Kwon’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Paris Review, NPR, and elsewhere.
Spring 2019 Chris Kraus Chris Kraus is the author of four novels, including I Love Dick and Summer of Hate; two books of art and cultural criticism; and most recently, After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography. Index called her “one of the most subversive voices in American fiction.” Her work has been praised for its damning intelligence, vulnerability and dazzling speed. She received the College Art Association’s Frank Jewett Mather Award in Art Criticism in 2008, and a Warhol Foundation Art Writing grant in 2011. She lives in Los Angeles.
Spring 2018 Rachel Kushner Rachel Kushner is the author of The Flamethrowers, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times Top Five Novel of 2013. Kushner’s debut novel, Telex from Cuba, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book. A collection of her early work, The Strange Case of Rachel K, was published by New Directions in 2015. Her fiction has appeared in the New Yorker (“Fifty-seven”), Harper’s (“The Great Exception”), and the Paris Review (“Blanks”). She is the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2016 Howard D. Vursell Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her latest work, The Mars Room: A Novel, will be released May 1, 2018.
Spring 2017 Sarah Manguso Sarah Manguso is the author of 300 Arguments, Ongoingness, The Guardians, The Two Kinds of Decay, Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape, Siste Viator, and The Captain Lands in Paradise. Her work has been supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rome Prize, and her books have been translated into Chinese, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Her poems have won a Pushcart Prize and appeared in four editions of the Best American Poetry series, and her essays have appeared in in Harper’s, the New York Review of Books, the New York Times Magazine, and the Paris Review. She has taught graduate and undergraduate writing at institutions including Columbia, NYU, Princeton, and the University of Iowa. She lives in Los Angeles.
Spring 2016 Andrew Sean Greer Andrew Sean Greer is the bestselling author of The Story of a Marriage, which The New York Times has called an “inspired, lyrical novel,” and The Confessions of Max Tivoli, which was named a best book of 2004 by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune. His first novel, The Path of Minor Planets, and his story collection, How It Was for Me, were also published to wide acclaim. His stories have appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, and other national publications, and have been anthologized most recently in The Book of Other People and Best American Nonrequired Reading. He is the recipient of the Northern California Book Award, the California Book Award, the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Public Library. Greer lives in San Francisco.
Spring 2015 William Deresiewicz William Deresiewicz is a widely published essayist, book critic and author. He is a regular contributing writer to The Nation and a Contributing Editor to The New Republic and The American Scholar. Deresiewicz’s award-winning essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Chronicle of Higher Education and elsewhere. An associate professor of English at Yale until 2008, he is the author of the critically acclaimed and controversial Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life, published August 2014. He is also known for his book A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter, which has been optioned for development as a television series.
Spring 2014 Danzy Senna Scripps is honored to have Danzy Senna as the Mary Routt Chair for 2014. Senna is an award-winning author of four novels and several short stories and essays which explore themes of multiracial identities and personal histories. Her first book, Caucasia (Riverhead Books 1998), was awarded a “Best Book of the Year” by the Los Angeles Times (1998), the Book of the Month Club Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction (1999), and the Whiting Writers Award (2002). Her other novels include You Are Free: Stories (Riverhead Books 2011), Where Did You Sleep Last Night? A Personal History (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 2009), Symptomatic (Riverhead Books, 2006), and Other Languages Are All We Have (Riverhead Books, forthcoming). Her essays and short stories have appeared in such publications as Vogue (U.S.) and The Boston Review. Among her previous appointments, she has been the Remsen Bird Artist-in-Residence at Occidental College and held the Jenks’ Chair of Contemporary American Letters at the College of the Holy Cross. Senna is an alumnus of Stanford University (BA) and UC Irvine (MFA).
Spring 2013 Meghan O’Rourke Meghan O’Rourke is the author of two volumes of poetry, Halflife (Norton 2007) and Once (Norton 2011), as well as numerous poems published in anthologies (eg Best American Poetry 2007, The Pushcart Prize Anthology) and journals and magazines (e.g. The New Yorker, Poetry, The New Republic). She has also published a memoir/essay on mourning, The Long Goodbye (Riverhead 2011), and over a hundred essays and reviews (in publications such as The New Yorker, Slate, The New York Times Book Review, The Nation). Winner of the Pushcart Prize in 2006 and 2007, among other awards, she teaches at New York University and Princeton, serves as an editor for several top publications, and is the founding editor of Double X, a website of politics and culture for women.
Spring 2012 Helena María Viramontes Helena María Viramontes is the author of the novel Their Dogs Came with Them and two previous works of fiction, The Moths and Other Stories and the novel Under the Feet of Jesus. Named a USA Ford Fellow in 2007 by United States Artists, she is also the recipient of the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, a Sundance Institute Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and the Luis Leal Award.
Spring 2011 David Treuer David Treuer is an Ojibwe Indian from Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the NEH, Bush Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He is the author of three novels and a book of criticism. His essays and stories have appeared in Esquire, TriQuarterly, The Washington Post, the LA Times, and Treuer published his first novel, Little, in 1995. He received his PhD in anthropology and published his second novel, The Hiawatha, in 1999. His third novel The Translation of Dr Apelles and a book of criticism,Native American Fiction; A User’s Manual appeared in 2006. The Translation of Dr Apelles was named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, Time Out, and City Pages.
Spring 2010 Marcia Aldrich Marcia Aldrich received her master’s in creative writing and her Ph.D in English from the University of Washington; she is an associate professor of creative writing at Michigan State University. She is the author of a memoir called Girl Rearing, as well as poems, short stories, essays, and works of creative nonfiction which have appeared in a wide variety of venues, including Seneca Review, Northwest Review, Mississippi Review, The Best American Essays, The Beacon Book of Essays by Contemporary American Women and been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. Last fall her essay “My Mother’s Toenails” appeared in The Best of Brevity, and most recently her essay “The Bed of Metamorphosis,” originally published in The Fourth Genre, was selected as a Notable Essay of 2006. She is completing a second collection of essays tentatively titled The Mother Bed; she is also Senior Editor of The Fourth Genre.
Spring 2009 Bernard Cooper Bernard Cooper received his MFA at the California Institute of the Arts in 1979. He has taught at the UCLA Writer’s Program, Antioch University Los Angeles, and Bennington College. He writes in a number of genres: memoir, essay, fiction, and poetry; some of his work is a blend of these. His first book, Maps to Anywhere (1990), won the 1991 PEN/Hemingway Award for Fiction, and the title piece of his third book, Truth Serum, won an O. Henry Award in 1994; he has also won a Guggenheim fellowship (1991) and an NEA fellowship (2004). Other works include A Year of Rhymes, a novel, Guess Again, a collection of short stories, and most recently, a memoir called The Bill from My Father. His stories, essays, and art reviews have appeared in anthologies such as The Best American Gay Fiction 1996 as well as in the Georgia Review, Harper’s, Los Angeles Magazine, the Mid-American Review, Nerve, the New York Times Magazine, the North American Review, the Paris Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, the Threepenny Review, and on This American Life.
Spring 2008 John D’Agata John D’Agata holds MFAs from Iowa in both nonfiction and poetry and is an assistant professor in Iowa’s Non-Fiction MFA program as well as the editor of lyric essays for the Seneca Review. He is the author of Halls of Fame, a collection of lyric essays, and the editor of The Next American Essay, an anthology of innovative American nonfiction from the past 35 years as well as two historical companions to The Next American Essay: The Lost Origins of the Essay, an anthology of innovative essays from ancient Sumer up through contemporary Slovenia, and The American Essay, an anthology of exclusively American work from 1680 to 1974. He has taught at Colgate University, Columbia University, and California Institute of the Arts. His course at Scripps was entitled “The Lyric Essay” and focused on experimental writing and creative non-fiction; he read from his forthcoming booklength essay Lifespan of a Fact on Nevada’s Yucca Mountain Project.
Spring 2007 Sandra Tsing Loh Sandra Tsing Loh holds a degree from USC’s Master of Professional Writing Program. Her books include Mother on Fire (2008), A Year in Van Nuys (2001), Aliens in America (1997), Depth Takes a Holiday: Essays From Lesser Los Angeles (1996), and a novel, If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home By Now, which was named by the Los Angeles Times as one of the 100 best fiction books of 1998. Her story “My Father’s Chinese Wives” received a 1997 Pushcart Prize and was featured in the 1999 Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. She is a writer/performer of several solo shows, a musical composer, a pianist, and a regular commentator on NPR’s “Morning Edition” and on Ira Glass’ “This American Life.” She produces a daily segment on NPR called “The Loh Down on Science” and her weekly segment “The Loh Life” is also on NPR. She is currently a contributing editor for The Atlantic Monthly and was a 2006 finalist for the National Magazine Award.Her Scripps course focused on memoir, and she read from her well-known book review of Joan Sewell’s book I’d Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido for Atlantic Monthly.