Nugent Takes Charge of Southern New Hampshire's MFA Writing Program

Novelist/essayist Benjamin Nugent has been named the director of Southern New Hampshire University's low-residency MFA writing program.


MANCHESTER, N.H., June 27, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Award-winning novelist, essayist, and short story writer Benjamin Nugent has been named the new director of Southern New Hampshire University's low-residency MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction program.

Nugent is the author of the cultural history "American Nerd: The Story of My People" (Scribner, 2008), and the novel "Good Kids" (Scribner, 2013). He has published short stories in The Paris Review, Tin House, Vice, and the L Magazine, and a recent story in The Paris Review is to be included in "The Best American Short Stories 2014." His nonfiction has appeared in the The New York Times and many other magazines and newspapers.

A graduate of Reed College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Nugent has been a faculty member in the program since 2012, and has also been the director since 2011 of Southern New Hampshire's undergraduate writing program.

He now relinquishes that latter role to assume full-time leadership of a program founded in 2006 by historical novelist Robert Begiebing. Within the past several years, the new program has grown to the size Begiebing envisioned—65 students, 15 faculty members—and includes among its faculty essayist/novelist Leslie Jamison, novelist Wiley Cash, and environmental journalist Craig Childs.

The program's alumni already include such published or soon-to-be-published authors as novelists Timothy Woodward, Charlie Stella, Pratima Cranse, and D.R. Leo, and photojournalists Emma LeBlanc and Elizabeth Rush.

"Our applications have been very strong, but the plan has always been to cap the program at this size, and I support that," Nugent said. "With these numbers we offer a best-of-both-worlds balance of the literary ferment of a large program and the warmth and intimacy of a small one."

Southern New Hampshire continues to promote from within. Nugent succeeds novelist Diane Les Becquets ("Season of Ice," Bloomsbury, 2008), who took over for the retiring Begiebing in 2010, skillfully managed the program's growth to full size, and who will remain on the faculty.

"I needed to put more of my energy into teaching and my own writing," said Les Becquets. "So I'm thrilled that Ben has stepped up to this. Now that we're at the size we like, we can focus simply on improving every aspect of program operation, on serving the art and craft of what we do. Ben arrives with some great ideas on how to do that, and the energy to carry those out. The future continues to look very bright."

In one of his first moves, Nugent announced the addition of two visiting authors to the faculty for the next semester. "They're both great writers," Nugent said. "Adam Wilson is a recent winner of The Paris Review's Terry Southern Prize for his great short story 'What's Important Is Feeling.'"

That is also the title story of Wilson's new story collection from Harper Perennial. His novel 'Flatscreen' (Harper, 2012) was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist, an Indie Next Pick, and an Amazon Book of the Month.

And Jami Attenberg is the author of "The Middlesteins," which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. "This is a novel praised to the sky by Jonathan Franzen and many other luminaries," Nugent added.

A photo accompanying this release is available at:


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