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Renée Nicholson, an academic with square glasses and shoulder-length gray hair, shown laughing.

Renée Nicholson

Humanities Center

Renée Nicholson is a celebrated writer, educator, and expert in narrative medicine. She is the author of the memoir Fierce and Delicate: Essays on Dance and Illness, and a collection of poetry, Roundabout Directions to Lincoln Center. She is also co-editor of the award-winning anthology Bodies of Truth: Personal Narratives of Illness, Disability, and Medicine, and she served as consulting writer for the memoir Off Belay: One Last Great Adventure. Her creative writing and her scholarship have appeared in over a hundred magazines, journals, and anthologies, including Synapsis: A Health Humanities Journal, where Nicholson serves as a contributing writer. Her writing has also earned numerous nominations and awards, including the 2022 Nassau Review Prize for Prose. In 2011, she served as the Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State Altoona. 

Nicholson’s research includes two interdisciplinary Narrative Medicine projects “The Value of Expressive Storytelling/Writing on Quality of Life,” which was conducted in collaboration with WVU School of Medicine and funded by grants from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the Humanities Center. These projects served nearly a hundred patients in Appalachia living with cancer and with HIV. This work, as well as her acclaimed writing, earned Nicholson the 2018 Susan S. Landis Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts at the West Virginia Governor’s Arts Awards, and the 2019 Eberly College of Arts and Sciences’ Outstanding Public Service Award. She is also the 2020 winner of the Nicholas Evans Award for Excellence in Advising at WVU. 

In addition to her writing and research, Nicholson has served as a board member for the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet, chair of the fundraising committee for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra series at WVU, assistant director and director of the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop, and director of WVU’s Programs for Multi- and Interdisciplinary Studies. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle, and the Dance Critics Association, and is an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher, funded through a grant from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. 

Nicholson earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from WVU, a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Creating Writing from Butler University, and a Certificate in Narrative Medicine from the Program for Narrative Medicine at Columbia University.