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Center for Literary and Comparative Studies

UMD English’s hub for intellectual exchange in creative writing, English language and literary studies, the Center for Literary and Comparative Studies is helping faculty, staff and students share ideas with one another and the world.

The Center for Literary and Comparative Studies is the UMD English department’s dynamic venue for critical and creative work through lectures, symposia, conferences, readings and other activities, all of which are open to the public. The center showcases the research and creative activities of the department as well as helps develop new knowledge in literary and comparative studies. It actively promotes collaboration with other departments and programs, such as the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures; classics; women's studies; American studies; and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Program. In this way, the center serves as a focal point within the University of Maryland for cross-disciplinary dialogue in the humanities.

In 2020-2021, the Center is sponsoring a year-long linked series of events, "Antiracism: Research • Teaching • Public Engagement," that support and act upon the statements of solidarity for Black Lives Matter issued by the Department, College, and University.

Drawing upon the flexibility of the virtual environment—all of our programming will be virtual—we are committed to supporting the work of emerging, early-, and mid-career scholars and teachers, with a particular emphasis on welcoming BIPOC and BAME scholars and teachers in the US and abroad. We envisage that these events will draw audiences from the University of Maryland and beyond. Our intention is to contribute to the development of antiracist scholarship and pedagogy, and to offer public engagement with our various communities beyond campus in the service of promoting antiracism in all its forms.

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The center serves as a hub for research, academic programming and creative endeavor for the English department and Comparative Literature Program in cooperation with the larger campus, surrounding institutions and the general public.

The activities of the center are designed to foster an intellectually engaged community of scholars—undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, lecturers, faculty and staff—who work collaboratively to promote literary study, comparative studies and the humanities in general as a framework for knowledge and action.


  • fosters the advancement of multidisciplinary and collaborative scholarship in the humanities;
  • offers opportunities for exchanges among students, alumni, lecturers, faculty, staff and members of the general public;
  • serves as a laboratory for the incubation of new ideas, daring scholarship and creative activities;
  • supports on-going projects and professional development;
  • honors accomplishments in teaching, research and creative work;
  • facilitates encounters among constituencies that do not otherwise have sustained contact with one another;
  • consolidates and extends the global perspective on teaching and scholarship characteristic of the English department and in concert with the university’s strategic plan.
  • The center, through co-sponsorships and a twice-yearly call for proposals, offers financial support for initiatives that correspond to its mission.


Please note that our grants programs have been suspended in 2020-2021 due to budget cuts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The center supports three separate grants programs

If you require assistance in drafting a budget for your project, contact Karen Nelson,

Events Series


Explore past and upcoming conferences and symposia organized or supported by the Center for Literary and Comparative Studies. 

Learn more about conferences.

Steering Committee


The steering committee for the Center for Literary and Comparative Studies includes:

  • GerShun Avilez, Associate Professor, English, and Director, Graduate Studies
  • Amanda Bailey, Professor and Chair, English
  • Tita Chico, Professor and Faculty Director, Center for Literary & Comparative Studies
  • John Drabinksi, Professor, English
  • Oliver Gaycken, Associate Professor and Director, Comparative Literature
  • Perla Guerrero, Associate Professor, American Studies
  • Michael Israel, Associate Professor, English
  • Robert S. Levine, Professor, English
  • Kristy Maddux, Associate Professor, Communication
  • Thomas Moser, Associate Professor, English
  • Karen Nelson, Director of Research Iniatives & Co-Director, Center for Literary & Comparative Studies
  • Rion Amilcar Scott, Assistant Professor, English
  • Martha Nell Smith, Professor, English
  • Scott Trudell, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, English
  • Eric Zakim, Associate Professor, Cinema and Media Studies


Contact Us

Tita Chico

Professor, English

3204 Tawes Hall
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-3811

Karen Nelson

Director, English

2120B Tawes Hall
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-3185