Public Events Schedule
11: 30 AM
Gladfelter, Canon Lounge
LIAM CALLANAN: Distraction, Displacement, and Discourse: On Dialogue in Poetry and Fiction

When writers talk about talking we often focus on how: how do we get voices to converse effectively on the page? The talk then often turns to paradoxes: how natural dialogue often requires great artifice; how, in narrative, dialogue should advance the story without telling the story; how, above all, dialogue-related adverbs should be used sparingly. But what about the what? What does

dialogue do to, or for, a text? We’ll talk mechanics but then delve deeper to sort out what happens when authors allow characters to speak: what’s conveyed, what’s concealed, and what, in the end, does effective dialogue sound like—and look like—on the page? For answers, we’ll listen to a diverse array of voices, ranging from Theocritus—the ancient Greek poet who, it’s been argued, invented fiction—to Robert Frost and Louise Glück, as well Toni Morrison, Alice McDermott, and Jenny Offill. And because (as I’ll argue) mystery is essential to good dialogue, we may take a look at a mystery author or two as well. Handouts (with bibliography) provided; no prior reading necessary.

(Full audio for all residency lectures will be available in the MFA Store in February:


Then join us at 8:15pm in Gladfelter, Cannon Lounge for a reading featuring faculty members:

Dean Bakopoulos

Marianne Boruch

Michael Parker

Stephen Dobyns

For more information, including a full schedule of public events, please visit the program website at

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