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Kelly Writers House Fellows Seminar: Karen Finley, John Barth, Ron Silliman

ENGL 274.301

Note: Admission to this course is by permission of the instructor only. Applicants shouldcontact Jamie-Lee Josselyn at

This is the 14th annual Kelly Writers House Fellows Seminar, which features visits by very eminent writers as "Fellows" of the Kelly Writers House, the student-conceived writing arts collaborative at 3805 Locust Walk. The seminar is taught by Professor Al Filreis, Kelly Professor of English and Faculty Director of the Writers House, and will include extended visits to the class by Karen Finley, John Barth, and Ron Silliman. Finley is a feminist performance artist who became (in)famous during the time of the “culture wars” in the early 1990s when congressional conservatives attacked the National Endowment for the Arts for funding her art. John Barth is one of the two or three most well-known American fiction writers of the generation introducing experimental postmodern meta-fiction in the 1960s. Ron Silliman is a poet who coined the phrase “the New Sentence” as he and others formed an avant-garde movement, emergent in the 1980s, known as Language Writing.

 Throughout the semester we will study the work of these three writers—and some of the materials "around" them that make the particular contemporary context in which each operates so compelling. Enrollment in the course is strictly limited. Students will be enrolled only by permit of the instructor and are asked to send a one- or two-paragraph statement by email to describing why they want to participate in this project and what academic (or perhaps non-academic) experience makes them especially eligible. Participants will write frequent short position papers; will engage in team projects following up each of the Fellows' visits; will be involved in interviewing the three Fellows; and will take a comprehensive final examination.  Participants must be available on three Tuesday mornings during the semester. The Writers House Fellows program is made possible by a generous grant from Paul Kelly.

fulfills requirements
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major