The Master of Fine Arts in Writing presents "The Challenge of Criticism," featuring Maria Bustillos, Jane Hu, and Michael Hahn MFA '23 (Fiction).

As part of our June 2023 MFA residency, we invite you to a public event, the Mapmakers Alumni Institute, featuring Kwame Dawes Mapmaker scholar Michael Hahn in a virtual conversation, "The Challenge of Criticism," with Popula editor Maria Bustillos and n+1 editor Jane Hu.

With this event, Hahn asks: How is literary criticism relevant in the age of A.I.? In a post-everything culture, what role does the critic play in a fractured public square? While critics evoke theory, history, and ethics to make meaning and challenge the status quo, criticism as a collective genre has also been blamed for gatekeeping, intellectual navel-gazing, and cultural erasure. What are the stakes involved for the average reader and writer?

In our conversation with Bustillos and Hu, we will explore criticism as literary citizenship for all writers, by way of interrogating oppressive narratives and elevating literature in modern discourse.

Maria Bustillos is is a journalist and editor of, an alt-global news and culture publication experimenting with blockchain-based publishing innovations.

Jane Hu is a Humanities Society of Fellows postdoctoral candidate at the University of Southern California and will begin as an assistant professor in the Department of English in 2024. Her research has been published in Verge: Studies in Global Asias, Modern Language Studies, Textual Practice, Victorian Studies, Modernism/modernity Print+, and Post45. Her cultural criticism has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Bookforum, The Nation, Harper's, The Ringer, and The Awl, among other places. She is an assistant editor at n+1.

The Kwame Dawes Mapmakers Scholarship is named after Mapmaker, an early collection of his poems. Dawes has been a leader in the program’s mission to diversify the writers we serve and create equity.

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