You may have wondered what Penn’s illustrious English professors are up to when school isn’t in session. The short answer is plenty. The longer answer, at least in the case of Kenneth Goldsmith, is showing up on popular TV shows and websites to discuss all kinds of interesting stuff.
Last Tuesday, we spotted Goldsmith—who we previously wrote about here and in the magazine—calling himself a “dumb writer” on The Awl. That evening, he turned up again, this time sparring with Stephen on The Colbert Report while promoting his new book and giving us a sudden craving for watermelon:
You can watch Goldsmith’s full interview with Colbert on the show’s website (make sure you watch until the end, as things really heat up around the 4:30 mark), but here’s a taste of the conversation:
Colbert: You are the poet laureate of the Museum of Modern Art. You’ve got 10 books of poetry. You teach writing at the University of Pennsylvania and you’ve got a new book called Seven American Deaths and Disasters. Did you write this?
Goldsmith: Absolutely not. I never write any of my books.
Goldsmith: You see, artists are dumb.
Colbert: Artists are dumb?
Goldsmith: Artists are dumb. We do things that you shouldn’t do. What I’m doing is too easy for an investigative reporter to do, and by doing something that is that simple, we’re uncovering something that nobody else has actually ever thought of.
Come fall, Goldsmith will be teaching a course focused on the Institute of Contemporary Art’s 50th anniversary called Writing Through Art and Literature.
The merrily attired Goldsmith wasn’t the only Penn writing professor we found in the spotlight this summer. Beth Kephart C’82, Lorene Cary C’78 G’78 and Diane McKinney-Whetstone CW’75 are honored in a new exhibit at the Philadelphia International Airport and were all on hand for the July 2 unveiling. Under the lengthy title Philadelphia’s Literary Legacy: Selected Authors, Playwrights and Poets — from Writers of the Declaration of Independence to Present Day, the exhibit also celebrates Benjamin Franklin, W.E.B. DuBois, Lisa Scottoline C’77 L’81 and L.A. Banks W’80.
Kephart passed along these photos from the opening ceremony:
For those who are curious, here’s the full 50-name list of those honored in the exhibit, on view in Terminal A-East:
Louisa May Alcott, Lloyd Alexander, L.A. Banks, Berenstains, Ben Bova, Sandra Boynton, Charles Brockden Brown, Rosellen Brown, Pearl S. Buck, Bebe Moore Campbell, Lorene Cary, Noam Chomsky, R. Crumb, Gardner Dozois, W.E.B. Dubois, Ben Franklin, Charles Fuller, David Goodis, Carolyn Haywood, Quiara Alegria Hudes, Solomon Jones, Ken Kalfus, Beth Kephart, George Lippard, Alain Locke, Diane McKinney-Whetstone, Margaret Mead, James Michener, Katherine Milhous, Karen E. Quinones Miller, Thomas Paine, Richard Powell, Tom Purdom, Joe Queenan, Anna Quindlen, Deborah Kogan Ray, Agnes Repplier, Sonia Sanchez, Judy Schachner, Lisa Scottoline, Sara Shephard, Jerry Spinelli, I. F. Stone, Michael Swanwick, Jennifer Weiner, David Wiesner, Owen Wister, Teri Woods.