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School of Arts and Sciences

Karen Dwyer, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, English

Pictured is Karen Dwyer, Ph.D., assistant professor of English.
Contact information

Education

  • Bachelor of Arts, English and Creative Writing, Loyola College
  • Master of Arts, English, The University of Illinois, Chicago
  • Doctor of Philosophy, English/Creative Writing, The University of Illinois - Chicago

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Fiction Writing
  • Advanced Fiction Writing
  • Introduction to Creative Non-Fiction
  • Advanced Creative Non-Fiction
  • Contemporary Literature
  • The Short Story
  • American Literature Survey II 1865- Present
  • World Literature I and II

Background

Karen Dwyer, Ph.D., has lived in six cities and visited dozens more in dozens of countries. She has touched four continents and swum in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, three of the Great Lakes and the Mediterranean and Black seas. She’s been a lifeguard, an electrical engineer, a liquor store manager, a (terrible) waitress and once wrote product descriptions for Playboy magazine and documentation letters for a firm which worked to support immigrants’ applications for citizenship.

Dwyer reads, studies and writes short stories and essays. Her fiction and nonfiction attempt to capture the impatient restlessness of contemporary middle class American life on average American women struggling with the social expectations of being a "woman" in a society that no longer offers a shared sense of culture. Her stories reflect a consistent attention to protagonists endeavoring to be "normal" in an America that considers individuality both amorphous and subjective yet maintains the insistent social milestones of coupling and motherhood that women are expected but also conditioned to achieve. Her characters are desperately seeking sameness in a world that seems to change too suddenly, importantly, and quickly, even if not dramatically — a nod to the Chekhovian notion of “and suddenly everything became clear to him.”

Selected Works and Presentations

  • "Ancient Texts," Red Orchard Review.
  • Presented paper “I’m Never Alone and Always Lonely” at the AWP Conference, Feb. 2012, Chicago, Ill.
  • Short story, "The Smoker," published in Triquarterly Review, Spring 2012.
  • Short story, "If and Then," a finalist in Zoetrope: One Story.
  • Presented paper "Carver, Poe, and the Short Story: It's not Epiphany; It's Grace" at the Association of Writers and Writers and Writing Programs national conference in Washington, D.C., Feb. 2011.

Research Interests

  • The contemporary short story
  • Hysterical realism and the surreal in the contemporary novel

Professional Memberships

  • Association of Writers and Writing Programs
  • Modern Language Association

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