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English professor authors new novel

Author: Arts and Letters


A new novel by the University of Notre Dame’s Steve Tomasula explores the ways art, desire and representation in the world shape us by shaping the way we portray others in paint, design, video, code and words.

Published by Fiction Collective Two, “The Book of Portraiture” was designed by Robert Sedlack, assistant professor of art at Notre Dame, and is an illustrated, postmodern epic in writing and images in which people seek to achieve what they long for by representing it – such as the Renaissance painter attempting to overcome his lowly origins by painting nobility, or the desert nomad struggling at the close of the ancient world to inscribe himself into life.

Spanning several centuries, the narrators of the novel – operating within the boundaries of their own time – portray objects of their desire in paint, dreams, photography, electronic data and genetic code.

Tomasula, an assistant professor of English, joined the Notre Dame faculty in 2002 and specializes in fiction writing, postmodern fiction and the literature of the small press. He also is the author of “VAS: An Opera in Flatland,” published by Station Hill Press in 2003, and “In and Oz,” published by Ministry of Whimsy Press in 2004.

His short fiction and essays have appeared in Fiction International, McSweeney’s and The Iowa Review, which awarded him the Iowa Prize for the most distinguished work in any genre. He is a regular contributor to The Review of Contemporary Fiction and the American Book Review.

Tomasula earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University.

A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1998, Sedlack is an assistant professor of art, art history and design. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame and his master of fine arts degree from Indiana University. His primary area of research interest is design for social betterment, and he has designed various print and multimedia projects, both locally and nationally.

Originally published by Susan Guibert at on May 24, 2006.