John Irwin – a renowned scholar and prominent poet – has been the chair of the Writing Program since 1998. The Decker Professor in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins since 1984, Irwin was named a professor of English in 1981 and served as chairman of The Writing Seminars at Hopkins from 1977 to 1996. As chair of the Writing Program, he provides academic guidance and oversight for students, faculty, curriculum, and program development.
Dr. Irwin’s many honors and awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Christian Gauss Prize from Phi Beta Kappa, The Scaglione Prize for Comparative Literature Studies, a Modern Language Association prize, and two Danforth Fellowships.
Most of his poems have been published under the pen name John Bricuth. His books include The Heisenberg Variations (University of Georgia and Johns Hopkins Press) and Just Let Me Say This About That (Overlook Press), a 124-page, 2,076-line epic that was written over 16 years. His latest book-length narrative poem, As Long As It’s Big, was published by Johns Hopkins Press in 2005. Journals publishing his poetry include The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Southern Review, The Sewanee Review, Shenandoah, Epoch, Prairie Schooner, The Antioch Review, Boulevard, The Yale Review, and Raritan.
Irwin’s books of criticism include Doubling and Incest / Repetition and Revenge: A Speculative Reading of Faulkner (Johns Hopkins Press), American Hieroglyphics: The Symbol of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics in the American Renaissance (Yale University Press and Johns Hopkins Press), and The Mystery to a Solution: Poe, Borges, and the Analytic Detective Story (Johns Hopkins Press). His essays have appeared in many journals, including Contemporary Literature, American Quarterly, Arizona Quarterly, Raritan Review, American Literature, Boulevard, and Critica Hispanica, and in many anthologies, and he has published reviews in The Sewanee Review, The Southern Review, Poetry and elsewhere.
A specialist in American and Modern Literature, Irwin received his BA in English and French from the University of St. Thomas in Houston and his MA and Ph.D. from Rice University. He also completed graduate studies at Yale University and has taught at the Bread Loaf School of English in Vermont. He served in the US Navy from 1963-66 and was editor of The Georgia Review at the University of Georgia from 1974-77. He was founder and editor of Strivers’ Row, a journal at Hopkins, and has served as curator and president of The Tudor & Stuart Club and secretary and president of the JHU Philological Association. He is the general editor of the Johns Hopkins Poetry and Fiction Series at The Johns Hopkins University Press and serves as a contributing editor of Thalia: Studies in Literary Humor and on the editorial boards of Poe Studies and Arizona Quarterly.
At The Writing Seminars and in the Department of English, Irwin has taught Contemporary American Poetry, Contemporary American Novel, Survey of American Literature, Modern American Literature, Studies in Medieval Literature, Elementary Anglo-Saxon, Poe and Borges, Fitzgerald and Hemingway, Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Crane, and Stevens, as well as various writing workshops. He is at work on a study of the poetry of Hart Crane and of the fiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and he is preparing another work on the American detective film. Irwin lives in Baltimore with his wife.