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 prizewinning 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 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.

Read more about John T. Irwin’s accomplishments and legacy.

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.

Read Stephen Dixon’s obituary to learn about his accomplishments and his place in the Writing Seminars community