Carnegie Mellon University

Alan Kennedy

Alan Kennedy

Professor Emeritus of English

Department of English, Carnegie Mellon University, Baker Hall 259, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890


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 tried 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.