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Novelist Cox, Atlantic Monthly editor Curtis to join Wofford faculty

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- It’s been a long time between servings of grits, and milder winters are calling their names, but novelist Betsy Cox and Atlantic Monthly fiction editor Mike Curtis say becoming part of Wofford College’s already thriving writing program is what they’re really looking forward to when they arrive on campus next spring.

“It strikes me that Wofford has an industrious and well-staffed writing program, and I hope we fit in and bring something additional to what is plainly a very functional program,” says Curtis, senior editor of The Atlantic Monthly, who along with his wife, Cox, jointly will hold the John C. Cobb Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Wofford. They will begin their teaching duties in the Spring 2006 semester. “Wofford faculty write and publish a lot, and you have very committed teachers with very engaging personalities. Time will tell whether we are useful additions,” he adds.

Being merely “useful additions” is an understatement, given the nationally renowned couple’s extensive and impressive credentials.

Cox is an award-winning poet, short story writer, essayist and novelist, with her fourth novel set for release late next year. Curtis, himself a published essayist and poet, edits virtually all Atlantic fiction, letters to the editor and other pieces. Both are renowned for their teaching – Curtis has taught creative writing, ethics, grammar and other subjects for more than 30 years at Harvard, MIT, Cornell, Tufts, Boston University, Bennington and elsewhere; Cox teaches short story and novel writing at Bennington and MIT, and has taught at Duke, Tufts, Boston University, Michigan and elsewhere.

At Wofford this spring, Cox will teach two fiction-writing courses, and Curtis will teach a course in creative writing, while also continuing as fiction editor The Atlantic.

Coming to Wofford feels like coming home, they say. Cox is a native of Chattanooga and a graduate of the University of Mississippi and University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Curtis grew up in Arkansas. “In an odd way, I’m coming full circle,” he says. “It’s been a long time between servings of grits, so I’ll be interested in how I reintegrate myself into the South.”

“We’re both glad to be getting out of the winters here,” Cox says. “We’re looking forward to ‘getting home.’

“I love the campus,” she continues. “I love the feel of the relationships there, watching the relationships between the students and the faculty. It’s very congenial. I’m very impressed with Wofford, and we feel honored and very lucky that we have this chance to be there.”

The couple will join a creative writing program that includes some of the best local and regional writers and draws national talent to its classes and programs. “Wofford’s creative writing program has long been regarded as a significant part of the college’s ‘extra dimension,’ points of excellence that single us out among other fine liberal arts institutions,” says Dr. Benjamin B. Dunlap, Wofford’s president. “Michael Curtis has for decades been a major arbiter of American fiction. Betsy Cox is widely recognized as a major writer of American fiction. Add them to our already powerful lineup of John Lane, Deno Trakas and Rosa Shand, and I believe you get one of the most distinguished writing programs in the country.

“It is deeply satisfying to all who knew the late John Cobb that Curtis and Cox will jointly hold the professorship that bears his name,” Dunlap adds.

The Cobb Chair was established by a $2.5 million gift from Ann Cobb Johnson of Spartanburg, sister of Cobb, a beloved professor of humanities and English at Wofford since 1994 and a 1976 Wofford graduate who died in the summer of 2004 in a tragic automobile accident.