In Memoriam

John T. Irwin (1940-2019)         

John Irwin

Longtime chair of The Writing Seminars (1977-1996), and Alonso Decker Professor in the Humanities, John T. Irwin, set the stamp on the department as a rigorous training ground in the writing of fiction and poetry. He was a prizewinner literary savant and poet, especially known for his book-length dramatic verse that was both comic and caustic, reflecting on such subjects as religion, marriage, talk radio, and Texas, his birthplace. 

As a critic, his work ranged widely from writers of the American Renaissance to detective fiction; with monographs on Faulkner, Hemingway, Hart Crane, and William Faulkner.  He was infamous for his Texas laugh, which could be heard down the corridor in the basement of Gilman Hall, and for his brain-wracking weekly quizzes.

Selected Works of Criticism:

  • Doubling and Incest/Repetition and Revenge: A Speculative Reading of Faulkner
  • American Hieroglyphics: The Symbol of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics in the American Renaissance
  • The Mystery to a Solution: Poe, Borges and the Analytic
  • Hart Crane’s Poetry: Apollinaire Lived in Paris and I Live in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Unless the Threat of Death is Behind Them: Hard-Boiled Fiction and Film Noir
  • Poetry: (written under the name John Bricuth)
  • The Heisenberg Variations
  • Just Let Me Say This About That
  • As Long as It’s Big
  • Pure Products of America

Stephen Dixon (1936-2019)

Stephen Dixon

“A master of self-generated fiction,” Stephen Dixon, born New Yorker, published over 30 works of fiction in a long career, while raising a family, and teaching and guiding innumerable students in The Writing Seminars. In his own words, he could teach anyone to write. Funny, self-deprecating, constantly on the run, generous with his time and lengthy commentary on student manuscripts, Steve was a beloved member of the faculty from 1980 until retirement in 2008. Trained as a newsman, he had an inimitable gift for a short and punchy book title. His narrative style was breezy yet intense, uninterruptible, urgent, a mix of irony and gallows humor that was all his.


  • Work
  • Fall and Rise
  • Too Late
  • Garbage
  • Interstate
  • Gould: a Novel in Two Novels
  • 30: Pieces of a Novel
  • Tisch

Selected Story Collections:

  • No Relief
  • 14 Stories
  • Movies
  • Time to Go
  • Frog
  • Sleep