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Understories Writers’ Workshop

With generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the University of Oregon’s Center for Environmental Futures announces its second annual Understories Writers’ Workshop in the environmental humanities.

The workshop will take place June 21-27, 2020, at Menusha Retreat and Conference Center, located with the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic River in Oregon. This is a five-day retreat, with arrival and departure on June 21 and 27. The Menusha Center is roughly 35 minutes (24 miles) north of the Portland airport and 2.5 hours (133 miles) north of Eugene. Accommodations at the conference center will be in shared cabins, and meals will include vegetarian and vegan options, if desired. No pets are allowed.

The workshop is limited to 12 participants, with up to 8 from the University of Oregon, and the remainder from beyond the UO community. Faculty and graduate students in the Environmental Humanities and allied fields (for example ecological approaches to literature, gender, religion, politics, philosophy, and/or race; animal studies; indigenous studies, environmental justice, ethics and sustainability; environmental history, art/architectural history and criticism, historical/cultural geography; anthropology, or sociology) are eligible to apply. Both aspiring and accomplished non-fiction writers who want to learn a more literary narrative style to engage a wider public audience are encouraged to apply.

The workshop, lodging, meals, and transportation are free of cost to UO faculty and graduate students. Those selected from outside the UO community will receive up to $500 to reimburse travel costs, with no charge for the workshop, lodging, and meals.

The workshop will be led by Mat Johnson, an award-winning professor of literature at the University of Oregon. Johnson has won the American Book Award (2016), the Dos Passos Prize (2011), and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award (2004), among other awards. Although best known for his fiction, he is also a nonfiction writer, author of The Great Negro Plot, essays on climate change, and a graphic novel.

Applicants should send a CV, a letter explaining why you would benefit from this workshop and a description of the essay or book chapter you intend to work on during the workshop, and a writing sample to Alison Mildrexler,, by March 15, 2020. Successful applicants will be notified by April 1 and must send a draft of the essay they intend to workshop by May 30.

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