April 19, 2010


MSU Law Launches Writer in Residence Program with Playwright Sandra Seaton

Sandra Seaton

East Lansing, MI — Michigan State University College of Law launched an innovative arts-focused program this spring with the announcement that it will host playwright and librettist Sandra Seaton as its inaugural writer in residence.

The goal of the MSU Law Writer in Residence Program is to more deeply connect faculty, students, and alumni to the arts. The project will be coordinated by University-wide Professor Nicholas Mercuro, who teaches Law and Economics and manages art-related projects at the Law College. The initiative is an outgrowth of a series of art exhibitions Mercuro has helped acquire for display at MSU Law over the past nine years, all touching on themes involving law and justice.

During her time in residence, Seaton will write works dramatizing legal issues, including a play focusing on African American students at a Midwestern university during the civil rights movement of the sixties. Her new play will be jointly sponsored by the MSU College of Law, James Madison College, and the MSU Department of Theatre. Student groups such as the Black Law Students Association will facilitate the project. Seaton will also conduct panel discussions and workshops examining the treatment of moral and legal issues in her own plays and other dramatic works.

Seaton's other plays include The Will, The Bridge Party, and A Chance Meeting. In a collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom, Seaton wrote a libretto exploring the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings for the solo opera From the Diary of Sally Hemings, which has been performed at venues including the Library of Congress, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Carnegie Hall. Formerly a Professor of English at Central Michigan University, she has been awarded artists' residencies at Hedgebrook, Ragdale, and Yaddo.

"We are honored to have Sandra Seaton join Michigan State University College of Law as our first writer in residence," said Joan Howarth, dean of the Law College. "Her presence and work will provide a wonderful opportunity for the entire MSU Law community to experience the arts and consider legal issues through a different medium."

Seaton, who earned a master's degree in creative writing at Michigan State University, is eager to begin her unique affiliation with MSU Law. "I am energized by the prospect of sharing my understanding and love of the arts with the Law College community, and in turn drawing upon the knowledge and experiences of its faculty and students to inspire my own work," she said.

Michigan State University College of Law is a leading institution of legal education with a long history of creating practice-ready attorneys. As one of only a few private law schools affiliated with a major research university, MSU Law offers comprehensive interdisciplinary opportunities combined with a personalized legal education. After 100 years as a private and independent Law College, the affiliation with MSU has put the Law College on an upward trajectory of national and international reputation and reach. MSU Law professors are gifted teachers and distinguished scholars, its curriculum is rigorous and challenging, and its facility is equipped with the latest resources—all affirming MSU Law's commitment to educating 21st-century lawyers.


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