Liesl Olson is Director of Chicago Studies at the Newberry library.  Born in Düsseldorf, Germany, Olson grew up in Kansas City, Missouri and graduated from Stanford University.  She received her doctorate in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University in New York City, and for four years she taught at the University of Chicago as a Harper-Schmidt Fellow.  She has received fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Newberry library.  Olson has written widely on twentieth-century literature and art, including her first book Modernism and the Ordinary (Oxford U P, 2009) and her most recent book Chicago Renaissance: Literature and Art in the Midwest Metropolis (Yale, 2017), which won the 2018 Pegasus Award for best book of poetry criticism.

In 2019, Olson will direct a four-week NEH summer institute for university and college faculty, Making Modernism: Literature and Culture in Chicago, 1893-1955. Applications are due March 1, 2019.


Recent discussions of Chicago Renaissance:

In the Chicago Tribune

Say Chi City,” Public Books

At the Arts Club Chicago in conversation with artist Lincoln Schatz

The Morning Shift WBEZ Chicago.

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