Keynote Speaker

Each spring, undergraduate writers at USC from disciplines across the University convene to share their work, compete for substantial cash prizes, and enjoy themselves at a celebratory banquet.  Last year, 370 students—in majors from Neuroscience to Music—participated in four categories:  Analytical Essay, Researched Essay, Professional Writing, and Creative Works. 
If you’re a USC undergraduate, we encourage you to come join the fun!  You’ve already written a dynamite essay—now reap your reward.  Submission deadline is 11:59 PM on Friday, March 6th.  Click here to submit your work.

This year’s keynote speaker for the 2015 Undergraduate Writers’ Conference is DEBORAH HARKNESS, best-selling novelist, author of the All Souls trilogy, and USC professor of European history and the history of science.  Harkness grew up in the suburbs near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She received her education at Mount Holyoke College, Northwestern University, and UC Davis. She has also studied at Oxford College in England. She has lived throughout the US, including Massachusetts, Chicago, upstate New York, and of course California. As a historian she has studied the realms of medicine and science, as well as the world of magic, alchemy and the occult.

She brings all these disparate realms together in her best-selling book series, the All Souls trilogy. In 2011, Harkness published A Discovery of Witches, her first novel. The book explores a world inhabited by witches, daemons, and vampires along with humans, and where the hallowed halls of academia provide a home for all these creatures. Shadow of Night followed a year later, in 2012, and The Book of Life was published in 2014. The series offers a decidedly grown up mix of fairy tale, intrigue, and occult.

Harkness is also the author of the non-fiction historical works John Dee’s Conversations with Angels: Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature (1999) and The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution (2007). Her historical writing has been honored by many groups, including the History of Science Society and the North American Conference on British Studies. In addition, Harkness is a notable wine writer as well. In 2006 she began blogging about wine. Her blog Good Wine Under $20 has received notice from the American Wine Blog Awards, and her writing on the subject has been published on Serious Eats website and Wine & Spirits magazine.

Questions or comments? Email Professor Norah Ashe-McNalley, Conference Director: