SUMMARY: This colloquium will examine the production and consumption of silence as a literary text in twentieth- and twenty-first-century America. The careers of Tillie Olsen, Henry Roth, J.D. Salinger, and Ralph Ellison—four revered authors who battled writer’s block or simply ceased to publish—suggest that an unproductive author can command serious critical attention and remain a literary celebrity by offering the public silence, which gets interpreted and admired like a work of fiction.
Myles Weber is a literary critic whose essays appear regularly in such journals as New England Review, Kenyon Review, Georgia Review, Sewanee Review, and Salmagundi. His dramatic works have been staged by theaters in San Francisco and Chicago. Dr. Weber served for seven years as an economic officer in the U.S. Foreign Service, with postings in Stockholm, Riyadh, and Washington, DC, and is now Assistant Professor of English at Ashland University, where he teaches playwriting and modern drama. A collection of his drama criticism, Middlebrow Annoyances: American Drama in the 21st Century, was published in 2003 by Gival Press. Consuming Silences: How We Read Authors Who Don’t Publish was published in spring 2005 by the University of Georgia Press.