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Meet artist and writer Tasso Hartzog. Hartzog is an English and Comparative Literature and history double major who focuses on creative nonfiction.

In speaking to how his time with the DOECL has impacted his creative growth, Hartzog said:

“My classes in English and Comparative Literature have improved my writing skills, but more importantly they have reminded me why I read and write in the first place. My time in the department has helped me to rediscover the kind of creative joy I had as a younger person, which is an invaluable gift.”

Hartzog’s favorite courses have centered on literary theory and creative nonfiction:

“Last fall I took CMPL 251 (Literary Theory) on a whim. My friend was taking the class, and I figured it might be interesting, or at least useful in future literature courses. Instead, it was probably the most inspiring academic experience I’ve ever had. Professor Legassie’s lectures made dense, theoretical readings that were often hundreds of years old feel alive and urgent. In addition, I’ve now taken two creative nonfiction classes with Professor O’Wain and loved both. Workshopping my own writing with my classmates was a scary prospect, but it turned out to be very rewarding. My Irish Literature course with Professor Gualtieri-Reed is another highlight; nowhere else have I had such lively and interesting discussions about stories.”

Hartzog has been working with art ever since he was a child:

“As a kid, I drew incessantly. I was especially fascinated with cartooning—stuff like Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, and Bone—but didn’t do any of it myself until a few years ago. I’ve also always loved photography. When I was ten, I got myself a point-and-shoot and asked my parents to buy me Adobe Lightroom for my birthday, and I took thousands and thousands of photos. At the start of the pandemic, my grandmother gave me her old fully mechanical film camera, and I’ve gone through dozens of rolls of film since, most of which I’ve developed in my bathroom.”

His favorite piece is a short comic that he created two years ago called Monday Morning:

“It was the first time that I’d written a piece of fiction outside of a school environment, and it was lots of fun. I’d convinced myself that fiction writing wasn’t for me—that I didn’t have the imagination for it—but that project forced me to reconsider.”

In addition to artwork, Hartzog has recently been working more with writing and mostly writes nonfiction. During the Summer of 2022, Hartzog worked for a small arts publication, doing interviews with artists, writing reviews of gallery shows, and even writing one long feature story on jazz and historic preservation:

“It was the first time I’d written something for a large audience, and it was exciting. I’d like to experiment more with fiction, and maybe poetry. In the past year I’ve been reading lots of poetry, and it’s had a profound impact on the way that I read and write. I pay much more attention now language that’s strangely, unexpectedly beautiful.”

You can find his recent work on his website,

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