PEN New England at MIT 


Dean Deborah Fitzgerald and members of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences welcomed the PEN New England organization to the group’s new home at MIT during a reception held at the MIT Faculty Club on Monday March 5, 2012. The liveliness of the gathering, which brought together novelists, poets, scholars, publishers, agents, and members of the academy, gave a foretaste of future creative collaborations between the PEN and MIT communities.  

Celebrating writing and the free exchange of ideas 

Now located in Building 14, near the Writing and Humanistic Studies headquarters, 
PEN New England is the largest branch of PEN America, and is also affiliated with PEN International, the oldest human rights and literary organization in the world. “The mission,” said Executive Director Karen Wulf, “is to celebrate great writing and writers, and to defend the freedom of speech. We welcome all who are passionate about literature and the free exchange of ideas.” 

The spectrum of PEN NE programs includes professional panels and workshops, prison writing programs, campaigns on behalf of writers imprisoned for writing, and special events, such as the recent "Lyrics as Literature" event honoring songwriters Leonard Cohen and Chuck Berry. Each year PEN presents two distinguished literary awards, 
the PEN/Hemingway for best American debut fiction and the PEN New England/Winship Award for the best New England writers of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.


Common purposes

In a toast, Dean Fitzgerald said, “We are really very honored to have the PEN New England writing community based here at MIT.” The match is a natural, she said, citing common purposes of ideas and creativity. Fitzgerald noted that t
he Institute is a longstanding home to distinguished literature and writing faculties whose awards include the Pulitzer prize, National Book Award, Peabody Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Through these and other SHASS faculties, the Institute gives all undergraduates sustained training in writing and critical thinking, skills that have become hallmarks of an MIT education.  

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Suggested links

PEN New England website

MIT SHASS Writing, Literature, and Media Groups 

Writing and Humanistic Studies (WHS)

Literature at MIT  | LIT at MIT News

Comparative Media Studies (CMS)


Graduate Program in Science Writing

WHS Writing Across the Curriculum

WHS Writing Center


MIT Shakespeare Project

HyperStudio: Digital Humanities at MIT