Lance Olsen

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Lance Olsen
Lance Olsen courtesy of Andi Olsen.jpg
Olsen in 2014
Born (1956-10-14) October 14, 1956 (age 59)
New Jersey, United States
Occupation Writer, Professor
Nationality American
Period Contemporary
Genre Novel, Short Story, Criticism
Spouse Andi Olsen (1981-present)

Lance Olsen (born October 14, 1956) is an American metamodern writer known for his experimental, lyrical, fragmentary, cross-genre narratives that question the limits of historical knowledge.


Lance Olsen was born in New Jersey. He received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison (1978, honors, Phi Beta Kappa), an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop (1980), and an M.A. (1982) and Ph.D. (1985) from the University of Virginia. For ten years he taught as associate and then full professor at the University of Idaho; for two he directed the University of Idaho's M.F.A. program. He has also taught at the University of Iowa, the University of Virginia, the University of Kentucky, on summer and semester-abroad programs in Oxford and London, on a Fulbright in Turku, Finland, and at various writing conferences. Since 2007 he has taught experimental narrative theory and practice at the University of Utah,[1] and since 2002 he has served as Chair of the Board of Directors at Fiction Collective Two,[2] or FC2; founded in 1974, FC2 is one of America's best-known ongoing literary experiments and progressive art communities. He was Fiction Editor at Western Humanities Review from 2007 to 2013. Olsen's wife, assemblage-artist Andi Olsen, and he divide their time between the mountains of central Idaho and Salt Lake City.


Lance Olsen speaking at Texas A&M University–Commerce in November 2014

Olsen is author of twelve novels, one hypermedia text, five nonfiction books, five short-story collections, a poetry chapbook, and two anti-textbooks about experimental writing, as well as editor of two collections of essays about innovative contemporary fiction. His short stories, essays, poems, and reviews have appeared in hundreds of journals, magazines, and anthologies, including Conjunctions, Fiction International, Iowa Review, Village Voice, Time Out New York, BOMB, Hotel Amerika, and Best American Non-Required Reading. He is known for his fictional biographies (examples of historiographic metafiction), such as Nietzsche's Kisses and Head in Flames, for which he does extensive historical research,[3] as well as his work in avantpop, postmodernism, speculative fiction, experimental writing practices, and critifiction (the blending of theory and narrativity in a single text).

The hypermedial version of his novel 10:01, created in collaboration with artist Tim S. Guthrie, was published by the Iowa Review Web in 2005 and included in the Electronic Literature Organization Collection: Volume One. Olsen is a regular participant in the biennial &NOW Festival, a celebration of experimental and innovative writing, and has collaborated with a board member of &NOW, Davis Schneiderman, on a series of short works.[4]


From May 2015 through April 2016, Olsen will be a guest at the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program.[5] He was the Mary Ellen von der Heyden Berlin Prize in Fiction Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin from January through May 2013[6] and the Mellon International Visiting Senior Scholar at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, in October 2013.[7] He is a Guggenheim[8] and an N.E.A. fellowship recipient,[9] winner of a Pushcart Prize,[10] and was the governor-appointed Idaho Writer-in-Residence from 1996-1998.[11] His novel Tonguing the Zeitgeist was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award, and his work has been translated into Italian, Polish, Turkish, and Finnish.





  • There (Fort Wayne, Indiana: Anti-Oedipus Press, 2014)
  • In Memoriam to Postmodernism: Essays on the Avant-Pop, co-edited with Mark Amerika (SDSU Press, 1995)
  • Lolita: A Janus Text (NY: Twayne, 1995)
  • Surfing Tomorrow: Essays on the Future of American Fiction (Prairie Village: Potpourri, 1995), editor
  • William Gibson (Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House, 1992)
  • Circus of the Mind in Motion: Postmodernism and the Comic Vision (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1990)
  • Ellipse of Uncertainty: An Introduction to Postmodern Fantasy (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1987)

Short Story Collections[edit]

  • How to Unfeel the Dead: New & Selected Fictions (Toronto: Teksteditions, 2014)
  • Hideous Beauties (Portland, OR: Eraserhead, 2003)
  • Sewing Shut My Eyes (Normal/Tallahassee: Fiction Collective Two/Black Ice, 2000)
  • Scherzi, I Believe (La Grande, OR: Wordcraft, 1994)
  • My Dates With Franz (Amherst, MA: Bluestone Press, 1993)


  1. ^ University of Utah
  2. ^ Fiction Collective 2
  3. ^ To hear Olsen discuss his method, see the discussion at
  4. ^ &NOW Festival
  5. ^ "GUESTS". Berliner Künstler-Programm. Retrieved 2015-04-10. 
  6. ^ "UNIVERSITY OF UTAH PROFESSOR GARNERS BERLIN PRIZE FELLOWSHIP". The Salt Lake City Tribune. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  7. ^ "1982". The University of Virginia Magazine. Retrieved 2013-02-10. 
  8. ^ "LANCE OLSEN". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 2012-04-13. 
  9. ^ "LANCE OLSEN". National Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  10. ^ "UI PROFESSOR HONORED WITH PUSHCART PRIZE". The Spokesman Review. Retrieved 2011-03-04. 
  11. ^ Lewis, Chris. "Gem State Laurels" (PDF). Idaho Center for the Book newsletter. Retrieved 2011-04-04. 

External links[edit]