Carnegie Mellon University

Alumni keynote speakers for the Creative Writing Program 50th Anniversary: Elizabeth Currid-Halkett and Javier Grillo-Marxuach.

December 18, 2018

Keynote Addresses from the Creative Writing Program's 50th Anniversary

By Angela Januzzi

Carnegie Mellon University’s Creative Writing Program in the Department of English celebrated its 50th Anniversary during Homecoming Weekend this past October. Over 100 alumni returned to campus to take part in panels, readings and meet-ups with their creative writing community and peers, Oct. 25 - 27, 2018.

That same Saturday, news of the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre in nearby Squirrel Hill reached campus, and two alumni were scheduled to give keynote addresses soon after learning of this devastating event: Elizabeth Currid-Halkett (‘00, Chair of Urban and Regional Planning and Professor of Public Policy at the University of Southern California) and Javier Grillo-Marxuach (’91, Emmy Award-winning screenwriter and producer). Both speakers immediately integrated the day's tragedy into their speeches.

"There is no statistic or co-efficient in a multivariate regression model," said Currid-Halkett in her address, "that will garner up the empathy or care about a particular social issue more so than the human story and how it is told. We must start with what it feels like to be human, to experience different types of the human condition before the regressions and data make sense."

In his speech, Grillo-Marxuach also spoke to the vital civic and political contributions of writing and of the humanities disciplines: "In this moment, there is nothing more revolutionary, counter-cultural and just plain badass than simple human decency."

Read Elizabeth Currid-Halkett's full keynote address here.

Read Javier Grillo-Marxuach's full keynote address here.

Find more here on the Creative Writing Program's 50th Anniversary, October 2018.