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Wayne Koestenbaum, Photo by Heike Steinweg
Wayne Koestenbaum


NYS Writers Institute, October 20, 2011
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Assembly Hall, Campus Center, Uptown Campus


Wayne Koestenbaum, poet and cultural critic, will speak about his new book, Humiliation (2011), a meditation on the meaning of personal embarrassment, on Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 8:00 p.m. in the Assembly Hall, Campus Center, on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the same location. The events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute, and are free and open to the public.


Wayne Koestenbaum,
poet and cultural critic, is the author most recently of Humiliation (2011), a soul-baring philosophical meditation on the nature and meaning of personal embarrassment. The book is part of the Picador “Big Ideas / Small Books” series. Though rich in anecdotes about his own humiliations, Koestenbaum asserts that the book is not autobiography (“that humiliated genre”). He explains that, “I’m writing this book in order to figure out — for my own life’s sake — why humiliation is, for me, an engine, a catalyst, a cautionary tale, a numinous scene, producing sparks and showers.” The book also presents and analyzes iconic moments of public humiliation from American pop culture.

Filmmaker John Waters called it, “the funniest, smartest, most heartbreaking yet powerful book I’ve read in a long time.” Publishers Weekly said, “The genre-busting poet and critic Koestenbaum [offers] a wide-ranging, allusive conversation that wears its erudition lightly— not least because Koestenbaum is at his confiding, self-implicating best.”

HumiliationKoestenbaum promotes the new book in a series of hilarious videos entitled “Dear Wayne, I’ve Been Humiliated…,” which are currently available on YouTube, and which the New York Observer called “the mother of all book trailers.”

A recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, Koestenbaum wrote the surprise bestseller, The Queen’s Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire (1993), a critical inquiry into the affinity of gay men for opera. A New York Times Notable Book, The Queen’s Throat was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Writing in the Washington Post Book World, Thomas Disch called it, “A cornucopia of extravagant gestures and precise observations... [that will] leave you breathless.” The New Yorker reviewer said, “Passionate, compassionate, and dispassionate at once, this book records a conversation between an art form and a way of life…”

Koestenbaum’s poetry collections include Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films (2006), Model Homes (2004), and The Milk of Inquiry (1999). Performance artist Dennis Cooper said of Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films, “These latest poems reach swoony, unforeseen heights of mental raucousness and worshipful style.”

Koestenbaum is also the author of a critical study of the popular image of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Jackie Under My Skin (1995), and of the libretto for the 1997 opera, “Jackie O.” Other critical studies include Andy Warhol (2001) and Cleavage: Essays on Sex, Stars, and Aesthetics (2000).

He serves as Distinguished Professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City, and as Visiting Professor of Painting and Printmaking at the Yale University School of Art.

Additional Links:
Writers Online Magazine Spring 2007

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.