About Southeastern Common Read

Beginning in Spring 2008 with Valerie Martin's Mary Reilly, the Common Read Program at Southeastern has invited students and faculty in English classes to read a common text that facilitates growth and wide-ranging discussion. Southeastern then invites the semester's featured author to present public readings and to meet with students. Furthermore, students compete with creative writing responses to the author's work. The winning essays are showcased here on the Common Read site.

Featured authors include:

  • Richard Ford
  • Jill McCorkle
  • Sheryl St. Germain
  • James Wilcox
  • Ron Rash
  • Susan Straight
  • Tom Franklin
  • Beth Ann Fennelly
  • Mat Johnson
  • Silas House

Some of these authors appeared in cooperation with the Tennessee Williams and New Orleans Literary Festival. We have also read Khaled Hosseini's Kite Runner and Sherman Alexie's Flight in connection with performances by the visiting American Place Theatre.

*The Common Read Introduction Video was filmed by the Southeastern Channel, featuring Dr. Jayetta Slawson.

Past Reading


Claire Vaye Watkins



Battleborn represents a near-perfect confluence of sensibility and setting, and the introduction of an exceptionally powerful and original literary voice. In each of these ten unforgettable stories, Claire Vaye Watkins writes her way fearlessly into the mythology of the American West, utterly reimagining it. Her characters orbit around the region's vast spaces, winning redemption despite - and often because of - the hardship and violence they endure. The arrival of a foreigner transforms the exchange of eroticism and emotion at a prostitution ranch. A prospecting hermit discovers the limits of his rugged individualism when he tries to rescue an abused teenager. Decades after she led her best friend into a degrading encounter in a Vegas hotel room, a woman feels the aftershock. Most bravely of all, Watkins takes on – and reinvents – her own troubled legacy in a story that emerges from the mayhem and destruction of Helter Skelter. Arcing from the sweeping and sublime to the minute and personal, from Gold Rush to ghost town to desert to brothel, the collection echoes not only in its title but also in its fierce, undefeated spirit the motto of her home state.


Tracy K. Smith

Life On Mars

Amy Acosta holds several degrees. She first earned her Bachelors from the University of Michigan in English, then a Masters from California State University, San Bernardino, in Rhetoric and Composition, then a second Masters in Modern American Literature (with a thesis on Marxist allegory as rhetorical device in Jack London's short stories) from University of California, Riverside, finally, a third Masters in Library and Information Science from Louisiana State University. Ms. Acosta embraces a kaleidoscopic range of interests, as opposed to a focus in a single discipline. Yet, however varied her interests may be, they all converge in a place of love for the written word.


Yuri Herrera

Signs Predecing the End of the World

Heather Botsford has been with the Common Read Program since its inception in 2008. She says organizing the student showcase for the Common Read and seeing the students respond to literature in a meaningful and enthusiastic way is the most gratifying aspect of her career. Ms. Botsford earned her Bachelors of Arts in English as well as her Masters of Arts with focus on comparative literature and film studies here at Southeastern.


Jayetta Slawson

Associate Professor
DVIC 343

Dr. Slawson's methods of research include fieldwork, interviews, and archival research. Dr. Slawson earned her PhD at New York University, her Masters of Arts at Arkansas State University, and her Bachelors of Arts at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.


Jason Landrum

Assistant Professor
DVIC 358

Dr. Landrum's areas of interest are: American Film History, Hollywood Genres, and Psychoanalytic Film Theory. He most enjoys keeping up with the constant visual and narrative innovation of crime films and television shows and their continuing interest to the imagination. Dr. Landrum received his PhD from Oklahoma State University, his Masters of Arts from Texas Tech University, and his Bachelors of Arts from Texas A&M University.


David Armand

SEH 217

David Armand teaches creative writing at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he also serves as associate editor for Louisiana Literature Press. In 2010, he won the George Garrett Fiction Prize for his first novel, The Pugilist's Wife, which was published by Texas Review Press. His second novel, Harlow, was published by Texas Review Press in 2012. David was recently named by Gambit Weekly as one of the area's "40 Under 40" award recipients for his creative work. David's third novel, The Gorge, is forthcoming in October 2015, from Southeast Missouri State University Press. Mr. Armand earned both this Bachelors of Arts and Masters of Arts with concentrations in creative writing from Southeastern Louisiana University.


Claire Cowart

Assistant Professor
DVIC 350

Dr. Cowart's main area of concentration is Irish Studies, with an emphasis on the novel in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, especially the work of the Anglo-Irish authors Somerville and Ross. She has also studied 17th century literature and Victorian literature. Dr. Cowart earned her PhD from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and her undergrad at University of New Orleans. Her favorite aspect of her studies is traveling to Ireland to do research.


Natasha Whitton

DVIC 231

Dr. Whitton's areas of expertise include: Nineteenth- and twentieth-century American Literature; Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century American Intellectual and Cultural History; Asian Literature; Comparative Literature; Composition; Cross-Cultural Studies; History of Science; Interdisciplinary Studies; Women's Studies; Toni Morrison; and the Bible as Literature. Dr. Whitton earned her PhD from MPhil, Drew University, her Masters of Arts from Murray State University, and her Bachelors of Science from Eureka College. She also has a Certificate in Japanese Literature and History from Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan.


Andree Cosby

DVIC 354

Andree Cosby's areas of expertise lie in Rhetoric and Composition and Creative Writing. She earned her Bachelors of Arts from Southeastern with a thesis in Creative Writing—Poetry, and her Bachelors or Arts from University of New Orleans. Her favorite aspect of her studies were in fiction, poetry and play writing. She especially loved her Southern Novel classes here at Southeastern with Dr. Louth.


Jack Bedell

DVIC 341

Dr. Bedell's areas of expertise are: Modern and Contemporary Literature and Creative Writing. He earned his Ph.D. in English/Creative Writing (Poetry) from the University of Louisiana in Lafayette. He earned his Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (Poetry) at University of Arkansas. His Masters of Arts in English with Creative thesis is from Northwestern State University. Dr. Bedell's favorite thing about his graduate studies was "the privilege of studying under great teachers alongside very talented classmates."


Alison Pelegrin

DVIC 230

Alison Pelegrin's areas of expertise are: Composition and Rhetoric, American Literature, and Creative Writing (Poetry). She is the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts, and her two most recent collections are Hurricane Party (2011) and Big Muddy River of Stars (2007), both with the University of Akron Press. Ms. Pelegrin earned her Masters of Fine Arts in FA degree in Creative writing from the University of Arkansas.