Lance Olsen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lance Olsen
Lance Olsen speaking at Texas A&M University–Commerce in November 2014
Lance Olsen speaking at Texas A&M University–Commerce in November 2014
Born (1956-10-14) October 14, 1956 (age 67)
New Jersey, United States
OccupationWriter, professor
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin–Madison (BA)
Iowa Writers' Workshop (MFA)
University of Virginia (MA, PhD)
GenreNovel, Short Story, Criticism
Andi Olsen
(m. 1981)

Lance Olsen (born October 14, 1956) is an American 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. From 2007 to 2023 he taught experimental narrative theory and practice at the University of Utah.[1] From 2002 to 2018, he 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. He served as Director of Creative Writing at the University of Utah from 2018 to 2019. Olsen's wife is assemblage-artist Andi Olsen.


Olsen is author of seventeen novels, one hypermedia text, six 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]


In May 2022, Olsen was a fellow at The Rockefeller Bellagio Center on Lake Como, Italy.[5] In the spring of 2018, Olsen taught a seminar on Experimental Forms and delivered two lectures as Chaire des Amériques at the Institut des Amériques de Rennes at the University of Rennes.[6] From May 2015 through April 2016, Olsen was a guest at the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program.[7] He was the Mary Ellen von der Heyden Berlin Prize in Fiction Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin from January through May 2013[8] and the Mellon International Visiting Senior Scholar at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, in October 2013.[9] He is a Guggenheim[10] and a two-time N.E.A. fellowship recipient,[11] winner of a Pushcart Prize,[12] and was the governor-appointed Idaho Writer-in-Residence from 1996-1998.[13] His novel Tonguing the Zeitgeist was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award, and his work has been translated into Arabic, Croatian, Finnish, German, Italian, Polish, and Turkish.





  • Shrapnel: Contemplations (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024)
  • There (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 Archived May 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ To hear Olsen discuss his method, see the discussion at Archived August 22, 2017, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ &NOW Festival
  5. ^ "Rockefeller Bellagio Center". Rockefeller Bellagio Center. Retrieved April 28, 2022.
  6. ^ "Gis Institut des Amériques de Rennes". Institut des Amériques de Rennes. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  7. ^ "GUESTS". Berliner Künstler-Programm. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  8. ^ "UNIVERSITY OF UTAH PROFESSOR GARNERS BERLIN PRIZE FELLOWSHIP". The Salt Lake City Tribune. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
  9. ^ "1982". The University of Virginia Magazine. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  10. ^ "LANCE OLSEN". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. Retrieved April 13, 2012.
  11. ^ "LANCE OLSEN". National Endowment for the Arts. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
  12. ^ "UI PROFESSOR HONORED WITH PUSHCART PRIZE". The Spokesman Review. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2011.
  13. ^ Lewis, Chris. "Gem State Laurels" (PDF). Idaho Center for the Book newsletter. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 18, 2011. Retrieved April 4, 2011.

External links[edit]