© Author Adventures

Literary Laramie

Laramie is the home of the University of Wyoming (UW), where several major 20th and 21st century authors have taught writing skills to the next generation of professionals in a wide range of fields. Among the prestigious and popular authors associated with UW are John Edgar Wideman and Terry McMillan. It is also the alma mater of W. Edwards Deming.

Approximately one-third of Laramie’s residents are students. Laramie has a population of around 32,500, and UW enrolls about 9,800 undergraduate students. The Laramie population has steadily increased in recent decades.

In 2016, its century-old Hoyt Hall, where many creative writing, linguistics, and English courses are held, was remodeled for 21st century-style instruction. Read about it here: https://www.uwyo.edu/uw/news.

Dr. W. Edwards Deming

Dr. W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993) was an engineering scholar who became known as a guru of management. He graduated from UW in 1921 when the Laramie population was a fourth of what it is today. His revolutionary book about economics entitled The New Economics for Industry, Government, and Education, has been published in multiple editions since 1993.

According to https://deming.org/deming-the-man: “He published hundreds of original papers, articles and books covering a wide range of interrelated subjects—from statistical variance, to systems and systems thinking, to human psychology. He was a consultant to business leaders, major corporations, and governments around the world. His efforts lead to the transformation of management that has profoundly impacted manufacturing and service organizations around the world.”

His legacy includes The Deming Institute and the prestigious award named for him. Read more about the Institute’s programs here: https://deming.org/programs.

John Edgar Wideman

John Edgar Wideman (1941- ), who was a faculty member from 1975 to 1985, is one of the nation’s most award-winning contemporary writers, rising to prominence in the late 20th century. His recognitions include the Rhodes Scholarship, PEN/Faulkner Award (twice), the O. Henry Award, the American Book Award, the Reader’s Digest/Lila Wallace Grant, and the Lannan Literary Fellowship. He published several books while serving on the UW faculty.

Wideman’s best known work is likely Brothers and Keepers (1984). Read about Wideman’s life of rocketing achievements and intense personal horrors here: https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/widemans-ghosts. Most recently, he was appointed the Asa Messer Professor and Professor of Africana Studies and Literary Arts at Brown University. An audio recording of a reading as part of Brown’s “Writers on Writing Reading Series” in 2007 is here: https://www.brown.edu/academics/literary-arts. His books can be found here: https://www.simonandschuster.com.

Terry McMillan

Best-selling author Terri McMillan (1951- ) was a successor to John Edgar Wideman, serving on the UW faculty from 1987 to 1990. While teaching, she remained active as a writer and editor. In 1990, her popularity soared with publication of Waiting to Exhale, which became a feature film starring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett.

According to https://biography.yourdictionary.com: “Waiting To Exhale was greeted with tremendous critical and commercial success. By the end of 1996, more than 700,000 copies of the hard cover and three million copies of the paperback had been sold. The film version, which grossed $67 million in its first year, also proved there was a largely untapped African American female audience eager for pop movies and novels. Critics acclaimed the work as yet further evidence of McMillan’s bold and provocative writing talent.”

Read more about the author and her books here: https://www.terrymcmillan.com.

The University of Wyoming, which includes Hoyt Hall and the American Heritage Center, is the first stop on the Wyoming Author Adventures Trail.

Patricia Smart