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Graduate Humanities Public Writing Project

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The Graduate Humanities Public Writing Project (GHPWP) facilitates a path to public engagement and publication for Stanford students interested in writing about the arts and humanities for a wide popular audience. GHPWP prepares students to publish both scholarly articles for the academic community and compelling commentary for the general reader, in nonfiction forms including but not limited to cultural criticism, op-eds, magazine reportage, popular history and science, first-person essays, blogs, podcasts, or articles for university media including the Stanford News Service and Stanford Report. 

As a new generation interprets our culture through digital media as well as print, and as Stanford scholars contribute actively to that conversation, GHPWP produces student authors who are equipped and excited to publish a wide range of writing in both old and new media.

In this effort to introduce young thinkers to the rich tradition of public writing, and to provide them with a broad and dynamic view of their career possibilities, the GHPWP offers undergraduate and graduate students across disciplines the following opportunities:

  • “What Is A Public Intellectual Today?”, an annual visiting-author series featuring writers of influence from within and beyond Stanford, who represent a variety of career stages and areas of focus. These events explore the writing process, make acclaimed authors available for questions and dialogue, and provide insights to help all writers improve our craft.
  • Pitching and Publishing in Popular Media, a one-unit winter-quarter workshop on freelance humanities writing, taught by GHPWP Director Laura Goode. 
  • A variety of opportunities for hands-on apprentice experiences in humanities news writing, mentored by Stanford staff and faculty. 
  • An ongoing database of publications by students and recent graduates, intended both to celebrate that work and to provide a resource of editorial connections for other emerging authors in the Stanford community. 


All featured speaker events below will offer light refreshments; attendance is free, but an RSVP  is requested.

What Is A Public Intellectual Today: Alexander Chee

Monday, October 28, 2019, 5:30-7:30 pm
Studio 40, McClatchy Hall
Building 120, Main Quad
RSVP here

Essayist and novelist Alexander Chee will join HPWP Director Laura Goode for a discussion about craft and career. The author of the novels Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night, as well as the essay collection How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, Chee is a contributing editor at the New Republic and an editor at large at Virginia Quarterly Review. His work has appeared in The Best American Essays 2016, the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review, the New YorkerT Magazine, SlateVulture, and many others. He is winner of a 2003 Whiting Award, a 2004 NEA Fellowship in prose, and a 2010 MCCA Fellowship, and residency fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the VCCA, Civitella Ranieri, and Amtrak. He is an associate professor of English at Dartmouth College.

What Is A Public Intellectual Today: Jia Tolentino

Thursday, January 16, 2020, 5:30-7:30 pm
CEMEX Auditorium, Stanford Graduate School of Business 
RSVP here.

Jia Tolentino, a staff writer at the New Yorker and the author of the widely acclaimed essay collection Trick Mirror, will join Stanford’s English professor Mark Greif for a conversation about her craft and careerFormerly, Tolentino was the deputy editor at Jezebel and a contributing editor at the Hairpin. She grew up in Texas, went to University of Virginia, and received her MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Grantland, and Pitchfork, among other places. She lives in Brooklyn.

*This event is cosponsored by the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research and the Stanford Humanities Center  

What Is A Public Intellectual Today: Tressie McMillan Cottom

Wednesday, February 19, 2020, 5:30-7:30 pm
Studio 40, McClatchy Hall
Building 120, Main Quad
RSVP here

Tressie McMillan Cottom, PhD, is an assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and is nationally recognized for both her academic and her popular writing. She is co-editor of two volumes on technological change, inequality and institutions: Digital Sociologies (2016, UK Bristol Policy Press) and For-Profit Universities: The Shifting Landscape of Marketized Higher Education (2017, Palgrave MacMillan). She is also the author of the widely acclaimed Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy (2017, The New Press) and Thick: And Other Essays (2019, The New Press). Professor Cottom earned a bachelor’s from North Carolina Central University and a doctorate from Emory University; she serves on dozens of academic and philanthropic boards and publishes widely on issues of inequality, work, higher education, and technology. 

What Is A Public Intellectual Today: Jill Lepore

Friday, May 29, 2020, 3:00-5:00pm
Stanford Humanities Center, Levinthal Hall
RSVP here

Professor Jill Lepore, the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University, will join Stanford’s own history professor Ana Raquel Minian for a conversation on the writing process. Lepore is also a staff writer at The New Yorker, to which she has contributed since 2005Her latest book is This America: The Case for the Nation (2019). Her 2018 book, These Truths: A History of the United States, was a New York Times bestseller, widely translated and published around the world. Her many awards and honors include the 2015 American History Book Prize for her 2014 book The Secret History of Wonder Woman; she has been a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Magazine Award, and the Pulitzer Prize. 


Interested in learning how to write about the humanities and arts for a broad public audience? Enroll in Pitching and Publishing in Popular Media, a one-unit workshop offered as a cornerstone of the Graduate Humanities Public Writing Project. This course, intended for graduate students across all humanities and arts disciplines (and also open to highly motivated undergraduates, especially seniors), will be taught by GHPWP Director and experienced freelance writer Laura Goode during winter quarter.

DLCL 312 / ENGLISH 318: Pitching and Publishing In Popular Media

Most of the time, writing a pitch for a popular outlet just means writing a compelling email. So why be intimidated? This course will outline the procedure for pitching essays and articles to popular media: how to convince an editor, agent, or anyone else that your idea is compelling, relevant, and deliverable. We'll take a holistic approach to self-presentation that includes presenting yourself with confidence, optimizing your social media and web platform, networking effectively, writing excellent queries and pitches, avoiding the slush pile, and perhaps most importantly, persevering through the inevitable self-doubt and rejection. We will focus on distinguishing the language, topics, and hooks of popular media writing from those of academic writing, learn how to target and query editors on short-form pieces (personal essays, news stories, etc.), and explore how humanists can effectively self-advocate and get paid for their work.

Terms: Win | Fridays 10:30-12:30 | Units: 1 | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

About Graduate Humanities Public Writing Project Director Laura Goode

Laura Goode is the author of two books, the poetry collection Become a Name (2016) and the young adult novel Sister Mischief (2011); she co-wrote and produced the feature film Farah Goes Bang, which premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival and won the Nora Ephron Prize from Tribeca and Vogue. Her nonfiction work was awarded a 2018-2019 Steinbeck Fellowship from San José State University and the 2019 B. Frank Vogel Scholarship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and has appeared in publications including New Republic, Publishers Weekly, BuzzFeed Reader, The Cut, Catapult, Refinery29, ELLE, Glamour, InStyle, Longreads, and the anthology SCRATCH: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living. She received a BA in English and Comparative Literature and an MFA in Writing from Columbia University, and she also serves as a Lecturer in Stanford’s Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. 

Any students interested in learning more about GHPWP events, mentorships, and other resources should feel free to reach out to Laura by email at