FOR WHOM IS THE FUNHOUSE FUN?
JOHN BARTH, born in Cambridge, Maryland in 1930, is the author of twenty books of fiction and non-fiction, and a beloved teacher of writing. He is best known for his inventive novels and short stories that have become hallmarks of postmodern literature. Postmodernism — an international movement in art, architecture, music, and literature — throws doubt on traditional forms and practices. Fiction, for example, has traditionally relied on the illusion of reality: readers and writers collaborate in the pretense that a story is true, that its characters are real, that its events are authentic. John Barth’s postmodern fiction often reminds us instead that stories are stories, and that readers and writers make meaning together.
Barth earned his bachelor’s degree in 1951 and his master’s degree in 1952 from Johns Hopkins University. Before returning to Johns Hopkins in 1973 as Professor in the Writing Seminars, he taught at the Pennsylvania State University and the State University of New York at Buffalo. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1974, and his work has received numerous accolades, including the National Book Award in fiction for his novel Chimera, the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Fiction, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, and the Enoch Pratt Society’s Lifetime Achievement in Letters Award. He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Johns Hopkins University in 2011.