Our Story

An open book laying flat with a paper tree coming out of the pages


At a reading in spring 2016, Gail Hosking, Creative Writer and recently retired RIT English Instructor, recounted the impact of writing stories on her life. As with all powerful stories, Gail's hit a chord in her audience, prompting Dr. Sharon Morgan Beckford-Foster, Associate Professor and Chair of English, and Dr. James Winebrake, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts to begin discussing possibilities for a Storytelling Center at RIT.


The Storytelling Center Task Force began. English Department faculty - Cecilia Ovesdotter Alm, Trent Hergenrader, Amit Ray, Elena Rakhimova-Sommers, Laura Shackelford, and Sharon Beckford-Foster - were central to designing the center with its aim to catalyze RIT's interdisciplinary strengths in story and craft. Together, they developed a proposal that dean James Winebrake approved in April 2017.


The english department appointed associate professor Laura Shackelford as the first director of CES. Faculty from RIT's english department and faculty from programs across the university (communications, history, computational linguistics, museum studies, photography, photojournalism, interactive media and game design, film, animation, art history, liberal arts/National Technical Institute for the Deaf) formed a steering committee to oversee the new center's interdisciplinary activities.