Best-selling Poet, Memoirist Mary Karr to Speak at W&J

Created: September 20, 2016  |  Last Updated: September 21, 2021  |  Category:   |  Tagged: ,

WASHINGTON, PA (Sept. 20, 2016) - Renowned poet and memoirist Mary Karr will be in residence at Washington & Jefferson College from Sept. 26-29, giving students and the community an opportunity to hear about her work in her own words.

Karr’s lecture, "Ambushed by the Truth: Confessions of an Unlikely Bestseller," is Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. in Room 100 of the Dieter-Porter Life Sciences Building. It is free and open to the public, and a book signing will follow.

The lecture is part of the J. Robert Maxwell ’43 Visiting Scholar Series.

“Mary Karr’s work honors blue-collar, small-town origins that are much like many of our students’,” said Tara Fee, Ph.D., an associate professor of English at W&J, and coordinator of Karr’s visit. “She’s devastatingly funny, compassionate, and wise, and I’m especially enthusiastic about having her tell our students about how literature and faith saved her when she was what she calls ‘a black-belt sinner.’”

During her visit to W&J, Karr will attend classes on campus and hold break-out sessions with students in literature and creative writing courses, as well as meet with writers and editors of the College’s student literary journal, the “Wooden Tooth Review.” She also will hold a workshop on substance abuse, titled “Sex & Drugs & Rock and Roll: A Personal Journey,” for W&J students. The Gender and Women’s Studies program will host the workshop.

Karr's bestselling memoirs and poetry have been greeted with both popular and critical acclaim. In the industry, her first bestseller, “The Liar’s Club,” is credited with inspiring the surge in the popularity of memoir over the last two decades. She recently published “The Art of Memoir,” which critics have called the definitive treatment of the genre.

A Guggenheim Fellow, Whiting Award winner, and Bunting (Radcliffe) Fellow, Karr is a gifted storyteller with a passionate message about the powers of narrative, poetry, faith, recovery, and the liberal arts.


About the J. Robert Maxwell ’43 Visiting Scholar Series

Endowed in 2010, the J. Robert Maxwell ’43 Visiting Scholar Series provides the Washington & Jefferson College community, including students, faculty, staff and interested citizens, access to a wider array of viewpoints, opinions and practices from distinguished and influential leaders.

J. Robert Maxwell (Class of 1943) was a lawyer, community leader and trustee emeritus of W&J. He received a Certificate in Meteorology from the University of Chicago, then served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy until the end of World War II. After the war, Maxwell entered Harvard Law School, graduating in 1949.

Throughout Maxwell’s life, he was an ardent servant of W&J. He was president of the General Alumni Association and of the Allegheny County Alumni Association, service for which he received the W&J Award of Merit in 1958. He was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1965 and served as an active member until he was appointed a Trustee Emeritus in 1985. Through his many years of service, Maxwell provided leadership and guidance with great wisdom and delightful good humor.


About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.