Tribute to International Writers Center Founder William Gass

Director Jean Allman, the J.H. Hexter Professor in the Humanities, offers her thoughts on the passing of William H. Gass, founder of the International Writers Center, which later broadened its scope as a humanities center.


“When William Gass established the Washington University International Writers Center in 1990, the goal was to bring ‘writers of every form and flavor’ from around the world to St. Louis. He aimed high with his first invitation, to the St. Lucian poet and playwright Derek Walcott.

In the years since, the center’s name has changed to the Center for the Humanities and our mission has broadened to include all of the humanistic disciplines. But we strive to remain true to his pioneering spirit and his dedication to ‘setting in motion what … will one day be seen to have been a good idea,’ as he wrote in his invitation to Walcott. We will continue to draw inspiration from his grand vision.”

— Jean Allman, Director, Center for the Humanities, J.H. Hexter Professor in the Humanities 

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Washington University obituary: Obituary: William H. Gass, professor emeritus, 93

New York Times obituary: William H. Gass, Acclaimed Postmodern Author, Dies at 93