The MFA Org’s Local & Visiting Writers Series welcomes Joseph Earl Thomas, who will give a talk titled “Reality Marble.” The free event will take place on Tuesday, October 24, at 12:45 p.m. on the first floor of the Writers House. All are welcome. To enter the building, swipe your RUID at the rear door.

Assumptions undergirding realist literature and their attendant critical methodologies often assume a more than real relationship to reality. That is, often when we turn to realist narratives as evidence—and only rarely is memoir included here—we tend to imagine that their suspension of disbelief: through detail, estrangement, or quotidian forms of referentiality, generates a verisimilitude exceeding what we might call social reality. But how does this function at the level of craft, particularly in the 21st Century? How might we consider the falsehoods of genre distinctions at the sentence level, and what might this teach us therein regarding social difference and the assumptive logics of power? Join us for a reading and conversation with Joseph Earl Thomas where he will discuss some of the formal strategies concerning realism in the present.
Joseph Earl Thomas is a writer from Frankford whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in VQR, N+1, Gulf Coast, The Offing, and The Kenyon Review. He has an MFA in prose from The University of Notre Dame and is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Pennsylvania. An excerpt of his memoir, Sink, won the 2020 Chautauqua Janus Prize and he has received fellowships from Fulbright, VONA, Tin House, Kimbilio, & Breadloaf, though he is now the Anisfield-Wolf Fellow at the CSU Poetry Center. He’s writing the novel God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer, and a collection of stories: Leviathan Beach, among other oddities. He is also an associate faculty member at The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, as well as Director of Programs at Blue Stoop, a literary hub for Philly writers.

Lauren Holguin