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Kenneth Womack (born January 24, 1966) is an award-winning American fiction writer and literary critic.
Life and work
Kenneth Womack was born in Houston, Texas, United States, and is the Professor of English and Integrative Arts at Penn State University’s Altoona College, where he also serves as Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. He is the author of three novels, as well as the author and editor of numerous volumes of literary and cultural criticism.
Womack is the author of the award-winning novel John Doe No. 2 and the Dreamland Motel (2010), which offers an alternative back-story for the Oklahoma City Bombing through the eyes of John Doe No. 2, the elusive mystery man who was originally identified by the FBI as a participant in the attack. In the novel, John Doe No. 2 spends more than a year in the company of Timothy McVeigh as he plots his devastating act of domestic terrorism. John Doe No. 2 and the Dreamland Motel was the Bronze Award Winner in the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award competition, as well as a Semi-Finalist for the James Branch Cabell First Novelist Award. Womack’s second novel, The Restaurant at the End of the World, provides a fictive re-creation of the last hours in the lives of the staff and visitors to the Windows on the World restaurant complex atop the North Tower of the World Trade Center. In 2013, The Restaurant at the End of the World earned the gold medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards for Best Regional Fiction (Mid-Atlantic). The novel was also a finalist in the 2013 Indie Book Awards and the 2013 Montaigne Medal competition. His third novel, Playing the Angel, was published in August 2013.
In addition to his work as novelist, Womack is the author and editor of three books devoted to The Beatles, including Reading the Beatles: Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, and the Fab Four (2006; with Todd F. Davis), Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of the Beatles (2007), and The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles (2009), which was named by The Independent as the 2009 Music Book of the Year.
As literary critic, Womack is the author and editor of several books related to ethical criticism and postmodern humanism, including Postwar Academic Fiction: Satire, Ethics, Community (2001), Mapping the Ethical Turn: A Reader in Ethics, Culture, and Literary Theory (2001; with Todd F. Davis), and Postmodern Humanism in Contemporary Literature and Culture: Reconciling the Void (2006; with Todd F. Davis). Womack’s four-volume Books and Beyond: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of New American Reading (2008) was honored in 2009 by the American Library Association with the Outstanding Reference Sources Award.
In addition to serving as founding editor of Interdisciplinary Literary Studies: A Journal of Criticism and Theory, Womack is co-editor of the celebrated Year’s Work in English Studies, published annually by Oxford University Press. His work as teacher and writer has earned numerous awards over the years, including Penn State University’s Alumni Teaching Fellow Award (2006) and the Kjell Meling Award for Distinction in the Arts and Humanities (2010). In 2013, he was selected to serve as the sixth Penn State University Laureate.
Womack earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from Texas A&M University and a Ph.D. in English from Northern Illinois University. He lives in Altoona, Pennsylvania, with his wife Jeanine and their family. Womack's brother Andrew is co-founder of the online magazine The Morning News.
- Playing the Angel (Nacogdoches, TX: Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2013).
- The Restaurant at the End of the World (Charlotte, NC: Mint Hill Books, 2012).
- John Doe No. 2 and the Dreamland Motel, (DeKalb, IL: Switchgrass Books/Northern Illinois University Press, 2010).
- Made to Order: The Sheetz Story (Portsmouth, NH: Arcadia, 2013).
- The Facts on File Companion to Shakespeare (New York: Facts on File, 2012; co-edited with William Baker).
- Bruce Springsteen, Cultural Studies, and the Runaway American Dream (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2012; co-edited with Jerry Zolten and Mark Bernhard).
- The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).
- Penn State Altoona (Portsmouth, NH: Arcadia, 2009; co-authored with Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry).
- Books and Beyond: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of New American Reading (four volumes; Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2008).
- Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of the Beatles (New York: Continuum, 2007).
- Postmodern Humanism in Contemporary Literature and Culture: Reconciling the Void (New York: Palgrave, 2006; co-authored with Todd F. Davis).
- Reading the Beatles: Cultural Studies, Literary Criticism, and the Fab Four (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006; co-edited with Todd F. Davis).
- The Critical Response to John Irving (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004; co-edited with Todd F. Davis).
- Reading the Family Dance: Family Systems Therapy and Literary Study (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2003; co-edited with John V. Knapp).
- The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion, by Ford Madox Ford (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2003; co-edited with William Baker).
- Formalist Criticism and Reader-Response Theory (New York: Palgrave, 2002; co-authored with Todd F. Davis).
- A Companion to the Victorian Novel (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002; co-edited with William Baker).
- Mapping the Ethical Turn: A Reader in Ethics, Culture, and Literary Theory (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2001; co-edited with Todd F. Davis).
- Postwar Academic Fiction: Satire, Ethics, Community (New York: Palgrave, 2001).
- Key Concepts in Literary Theory (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001; co-authored with Julian Wolfreys and Ruth Robbins).
- Twentieth-Century Bibliography and Textual Criticism: An Annotated Bibliography (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000; co-edited with William Baker).
- Felix Holt, The Radical, by George Eliot (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2000; co-edited with William Baker).
- British Book-Collectors and Bibliographers (three volumes; Detroit: Gale Research, 1997–1999; co-edited with William Baker).
- Recent Work in Critical Theory, 1989-1995: An Annotated Bibliography (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996; co-authored with William Baker).
- "Cambridge Companion Beatles :: Twentieth-century and contemporary music :: Cambridge University Press". Cambridge.org. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
- "Product - Books and Beyond: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of New American Reading - Kenneth Womack". Abc-Clio. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
- Scott Muska, "Womack Receives the Meling Award.” The Altoona Mirror; 8 October 2010: A8.
- "Cengage Learning - Gale". Gale.cengage.com. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2001.