UW News

November 26, 2019

Author, professor Charles Johnson featured on American Philosophy Association posters on diversity

UW News

Poster featuring UW English professor emeritus Charles Johnson.American Philosophical Association

UW English professor emeritus Charles Johnson is one of five people whose likeness is featured on posters promoting diversity and inclusion sent by the American Philosophical Association to every college undergraduate philosophy program in the United States and Canada.

And he is in excellent company: The other four people featured, each in a separate poster, are American writers Susan Sontag and Mary Higgins Clark; British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize for literature; and English actor Theo James. The posters are part of a packet of information designed to help departments support philosophy students from underrepresented groups.

Johnson earned his doctorate in philosophy from the State University of New York and is the co-author, with Michael Boylan, of a textbook on philosophy. In that book Johnson quotes French philosopher Albert Camus: “If you want to be a philosopher, write novels.”

He is the UW Pollock Endowed Professor of Writing, the author of two dozen books and recipient of numerous honors, including the 1990 National Book Award for his novel “Middle Passage.” A stage production of the novel will premiere at Chicago’s Lifeline Theater in February 2020. Other recent awards and activities include:

  • Johnson’s 2018 short story collection “Night Hawks” was a finalist for the 2019 Washington State Book Award in fiction.
  • Actor Levar Burton (“Reading Rainbow,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) has recorded a performance of Johnson’s story “Kwoon” for the Levar Burton Reads podcast.
  • Johnson published a tribute to novelist Paule Marshall, who died in August. She was best known for her 1959 debut novel “Brown Girl, Brownstones.” He suggests that Marshall’s works should be taught widely in schools “for the literary standard she set for 65 years. We owe that to ourselves for generations to come.”


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