Alan Kennedy-Department of English - Carnegie Mellon University

Alan Kennedy

Professor of English

Department of English
Carnegie Mellon University
Baker Hall 259
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
Office: Baker Hall 245 D
Phone: (412) 268-7175
Fax: (412) 268-7989


My primary academic interest is in the study of the art of literature. I maintain an interest in a wide range of literature. In particular I'm interested in the issue of how literature 'communicates' and to that end, continue to work on trying to understand what could be known as 'the rhetoric of literature', with particular attention to fiction as a focus for my writing. I deal with literature as an art like other arts, especially music, which requires performance in order to be appreciated. So I try to engage my students in developing their performance abilities in reading literary (and other, it follows) language, in the belief that most students coming out of our schools have been led into a kind of tone-deafness when it comes to language use. Increasingly I have been paying attention to the way in which feelings are constructed, evoked and conveyed in fictions ('the felt sense of life' perhaps). More directly, I think the primary purpose of a degree in English is the continued development of one's ability to read and write.

I teach a pair of classes, for example, dealing with the 'modern' fiction (19th and 20th Century), and teach classes dealing with literary responses to the two World Wars ('The Lost Generation', 'The Beat Generation'). I find the issue of undergraduate curriculum needs of increasing interest, and try to offer classes that will adequately introduce them to the nature of literary study. One that I call 'Books You Should Have Read by Now'-The Odyssey to The Brothers Karamazov and beyond-is one I offer regularly. I have taught classes on modern poetry, and recently a class on The Short Story.