Get to know this year’s visiting speakers and writers with our end-of-summer reading list

We’ve compiled an end-of-summer reading list featuring some of the exciting literary scholars and writers who are coming to Wake Forest this year. You can learn more about these speakers and other English department events on our events calendar.

Fall 2018 Literary Events: An End-of-Summer Reading List


A. R. Ammons

“About Ammons” Celebration, featuring editor and Wake Forest alumnus Robert M. West

September 14, 2018 in Byrum Hall’s Kulynych Auditorium, 5 p.m

The Complete Poems of AR Ammons

The Complete Poems of A.R. Ammons, Volumes I and II, Edited by Robert M. West

The text of each poem has been established after careful consideration of Ammons’s manuscripts and other prepublication materials. Endnotes detail the poems’ composition and publication histories, and also helpfully annotate references made within the poems. This volume confirms Richard Howard’s judgment: “Here was a great poet, surely one of the largest to speak among us.”

You can also read a selection of Ammons’s poems online here.



John Crowley

Dillon Johnston Writers Reading Series

September 26, 2018, in Hanes Art Gallery, 6:30 p.m.

Ka by John CrowleyKA: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr (2017)

Ka is a beautiful, often dreamlike late masterpiece. Narrated by an unnamed man, recently widowed and himself near the end of his life, “Ka” recounts the lives and adventures of a crow that is the embodiment of that immortal Crow—psychopomp, fool and trickster figure — whose legends and fables recur in human cultures over millenniums and throughout the world. The novel expands upon ideas and themes Crowley has examined in nearly all his fiction; it feels at once valedictory and celebratory.—Elizabeth Hand, LA Times

Little, Big by John CrowleyLittle, Big (1981)

“I have read and reread Little, Big at least a dozen times, and always am startled and refreshed. It seems to me the best book of its kind since Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass.” —Harold Bloom




Carmen Giménez Smith

Dillon Johnston Writers Reading Series

October 18, 2018, in Hanes Art Gallery, 6 p.m.

Cruel Futures by Carmen SmithCruel Futures: City Lights Spotlight No. 17 (2018)

A Latina feminist State of the Union address at the intersection of pop culture and interiority, Cruel Futures is a witchy confessional and wildly imagistic volume that examines subjects as divergent as Alzheimer’s, Medusa, mumblecore, and mental illness in sharp-witted, taut poems dense with song. Chronicling life on an endangered planet, in a country on the precipice of profound change compelled by a media machine that produces our realities, the book is a high-energy analysis of popular culture, as well as an exploration of the many social roles that women occupy as mother, daughter, lover, and the resulting struggle to maintain personhood—all in a late capitalist America. (From the publisher.)

Milk & Filth by Carmen SmithMilk and Filth (2013)

“In a stunning collection that combines fairy tale, autobiography, arspoetica, and manifesto, Giménez Smith asks women artists to question not only the fables told about us, but the ones we tell ourselves.”—Susan Briante, author of Utopia Minus

More poems and publications available here:




Devoney Looser

The Afterlife of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility

Dean Family Speaker Series 

October 23, 2018, in ZSR Library Auditorium, 4:30 p.m.

The Making of Jane Austen by Devoney LooserThe Making of Jane Austen (2017)

Just how did Jane Austen become the celebrity author and the inspiration for generations of loyal fans she is today? Devoney Looser’s The Making of Jane Austen turns to the people, performances, activism, and images that fostered Austen’s early fame, laying the groundwork for the beloved author we think we know. (From the publisher.)

“Original and provocative . . . a work of meticulous historical research matched with no little critical wit.” —Bharat Tandon, Times Literary Supplement




Teju Cole

Voices of Our Time Series

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Open City by Teju ColeOpen City (2011)

Along the streets of Manhattan, a young Nigerian doctor named Julius wanders, reflecting on his relationships, his recent breakup with his girlfriend, his present, his past. He encounters people from different cultures and classes who will provide insight on his journey—which takes him to Brussels, to the Nigeria of his youth, and into the most unrecognizable facets of his own soul. Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Internationalier Literaturpreis. Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Ondaatje Prize of the Royal Society of Literature. (From the publisher.)


Known and Strange Things by Teju ColeKnown and Strange Things: Essays (2016)

With this collection of more than fifty pieces on politics, photography, travel, history, and literature, Teju Cole solidifies his place as one of today’s most powerful and original voices. On page after page, deploying prose dense with beauty and ideas, he finds fresh and potent ways to interpret art, people, and historical moments, taking in subjects from Virginia Woolf, Shakespeare, and W. G. Sebald to Instagram, Barack Obama, and Boko Haram.  Persuasive and provocative, erudite yet accessible, Known and Strange Things is an opportunity to live within Teju Cole’s wide-ranging enthusiasms, curiosities, and passions, and a chance to see the world in surprising and affecting new frames. (From the publisher.)

Coming in Spring 2019


Paul Muldoon

Dean Family Speaker Series

Thursday, March 28, 2019, in Porter Byrum Welcome Center, 6 p.m.

Selected Poems by Paul MuldoonSelected Poems 1968-2014

Selected Poems 1968–2014 offers forty-six years of work drawn from twelve individual collections by a poet who “began as a prodigy and has gone on to become a virtuoso” (Michael Hofmann). Hailed by Seamus Heaney as “one of the era’s true originals,” Paul Muldoon seems determined to escape definition, yet this volume, compiled by the poet himself, serves as an indispensable introduction to his trademark combination of intellectual hijinks and emotional honesty. Among his many honors are the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the Shakespeare Prize “for contributions from English-speaking Europe to the European inheritance.” (From the publisher.)



George Saunders

Dillon Johnston Writers Reading Series

Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Porter Byrum Welcome Center, 6:30 p.m.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George SaundersLincoln in the Bardo (2017)

The year is 1862. President Lincoln, already tormented by the knowledge that he’s responsible for the deaths of thousands of young men on the battlefields of the Civil War, loses his beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, to typhoid. The plot begins after Willie is laid to rest in a cemetery near the White House, where, invisible to the living, ghosts linger, unwilling to relinquish this world for the next. Their bantering conversation, much of it concerned with earthly—and earthy—pleasures, counterbalances Lincoln’s abject sorrow. Winner of the Man Booker Prize. (From Amazon Reviews.)

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