Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, BSJ97, will serve as the inaugural holder of the George R.R. Martin Chair in Storytelling at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University.
Tan, a journalist, author and teacher, will lead the George R.R. Martin Summer Intensive Writing Workshop, as well as teach courses across a breadth of genres to both undergraduate and graduate students.
The George R.R. Martin Summer Intensive Writing Workshop will provide support for journalism professionals seeking careers in creative writing. Launching in 2024, the workshop will enroll six to eight writers and authors each summer and afford budding fiction writers, screenwriters and playwrights the time, space and guidance to develop their projects.
“Journalists have always been compelling storytellers, and many have a wealth of stories and ideas that would make for rich novels, films, TV shows and plays,” said Tan, whose book career launched when she turned an essay she wrote for The Wall Street Journal into the 2011 memoir, “A Tiger in the Kitchen.” “I am thrilled to be leading this unique program that will help journalists make that leap from news narratives to creative writing.”
Martin, BSJ70, MSJ71, is the author of the acclaimed “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels and co-executive producer of the Emmy award-winning “Game of Thrones” series. His $5 million gift to Medill established both the endowed professorship and the workshop.
“Storytelling is at the foundation of our school, and Cheryl’s expertise in telling her own stories and helping others tell their stories will allow Medill to build on its tradition of excellence in this area,” said Medill Dean Charles Whitaker. “We are grateful to George R.R. Martin for his generous gift, and delighted to welcome Cheryl back to Medill.”
In addition to teaching and leading the summer workshop, Tan will collaborate with faculty in the School of Communication and Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences to convene panels and conferences on writing for students, the greater Northwestern community and the public and be a liaison to industries related to long-form narrative and storytelling.
After graduating from Medill, Tan began her career at The Baltimore Sun as a metro news reporter, then a fashion, arts and entertainment writer. She followed this with positions in fashion writing at InStyle and The Wall Street Journal.
She is the author of two internationally recognized books and has served as an editor and contributor to two anthologies. Her essays, features, reviews and news stories have been published in major news outlets and magazines throughout the world.
Tan also has participated in nearly a dozen writing fellowships and has taught at universities and workshops.
“Medill taught me so much about writing,” Tan said. “I look forward to coming home and helping journalists build a new library of books and shows incubated right here at Northwestern.”
Tan will join the Medill faculty in September.