Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Kass Fleisher  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: 1959 in born in Wilmington, Delaware

-- Website --
-- Website -- Press
-- Kass Fleisher on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Fleisher teaches at Illinois State University in Normal.

Biographical and Professional Information

Kass Fleisher was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and holds degrees in English from Dickinson College (B.A., 1981), the University of North Dakota (M.A., 1989), and Binghamton University (Ph.D., 1993). She is best known for her fiction and creative nonfiction. Fleisher is the author of five books and numerous essays and reviews, and the editor, with Caitlin M. Alvarez, of a literary anthology - ''Litscapes: Collected US Writings.'' With her frequent writing partner, Joe Amato, Fleisher has written a full-length play and several screenplays (none of which have been produced to date). Since 2003, Fleisher has taught creative writing at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. She's the founding publisher of Steerage Press.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

The Bear River Massacre and the Making of History
ISBN: 0791460649

State University of New York Press. 2004

Explores how a pivotal event in U.S. history—the killing of nearly 300 Shoshoni men, women, and children in 1863—has been contested, forgotten, and remembered.

At dawn on January 29, 1863, Union-affiliated troops under the command of Col. Patrick Connor were brought by Mormon guides to the banks of the Bear River, where, with the tacit approval of Abraham Lincoln, they attacked and slaughtered nearly three hundred Northwestern Shoshoni men, women, and children. Evidence suggests that, in the hours after the attack, the troops raped the surviving women—an act still denied by some historians and Shoshoni elders. In exploring why a seminal act of genocide is still virtually unknown to the U.S. public, Kass Fleisher chronicles the massacre itself, and investigates the National Park Service's proposal to create a National Historic Site to commemorate the massacre—but not the rape. When she finds herself arguing with a Shoshoni woman elder about whether the rape actually occurred, Fleisher is forced to confront her own role as a maker of this conflicted history, and to examine the legacy of white women "busybodies."

“…can teach much to readers interested in the politics of history and historical commemoration … [Fleisher’s] text provokes and cajoles readers in an attempt to offer a ‘more self-reflexive narrative.’” — Law and History Review

“This is a very troubling book. As the author intended it to be. As it should be … [Fleisher] lures the reader into her spiraling meditation on the relativity of ‘truth,’ history, feminism, and—most important of all—storytelling itself.” — Southern Humanities Review

The Bear River Massacre and the Making of History does raise important questions that historians need to address. Kass Fleisher reminds us that forgetting Bear River is, perhaps, as much of a tragedy as the massacre itself.” — Western Historical Quarterly

"Fleisher's background as a novelist situates her outside of the academic coterie that writes and validates history. She is what Anishinaabe writer Gerald Vizenor might call a storier, and she puts her skills to work by crafting a book that integrates elements of journalism, historical scholarship, memoir, and feminist criticism." — Rain Taxi

"In this remarkable book, Fleisher exposes and analyzes perhaps the best concealed mass rape in the U.S. experience. Her probing analysis forces us to consider how racism and sexism have converged to silence victims, protect abusers of power, and advance the interests of colonialism." — Maria Bevacqua, author of Rape on the Public Agenda: Feminism and the Politics of Sexual Assault

"This is a troubling book in the way that any stirring-up troubles surfaces, whether surface understandings, feelings, memories, or the wounds that mark the white space of conventional history like strangled words. These are stories you feel, which Fleisher has felt, stirrings and troublings that flow from the wounds of the raped and dead, over space and time, eventually becoming a dark blanket from which, again and again, a dreamer awakens and walks forth. We are the dreamer awakening, we are the massacred, ours are these stirring stories." — Michael Joyce, author of Moral Tales and Meditations: Technological Parables and Refractions

"The most intriguing dimension is the thrust, from a fascinating variety of viewpoints, to achieve redemption—a great and signal effort encompassing and, however awkwardly, transcending race and ethnicity, religion and non-religion, tribal generations and tribal factions and, very basically, the skeletal hand of History." — Hunter Gray, activist and author (as John R. Salter Jr.) of Jackson, Mississippi

Accidental Species
ISBN: 092590449X

Chax Press. 2005

Poetry. "In Kass Fleisher's wild and wonderful universe, 'the traffic was horrible and lots of people were late with their periods,' or again, the poet busies herself trying to 'express debt on a sly chart meant to show asset retribution.' If there is a 'question of the day' for her young couples, who 'naturally' refuse to share their food, it's 'who ate the oreos? who drank the tab?' The reader, turning the brilliant and hilarious pages of ACCIDENTAL SPECIES, hardly has time to come up for air before s/he is taken on yet another verbal space shuttle, engaged in language games at once preposterous and yet deadly in their accuracy. If you want to know what it's like to navigate the shoals of intellectual-life-on-a-shoestring, as it plays out today across mediated America, ACCIDENTAL SPECIES is the book you cannot afford to miss"--Marjorie Perloff.

The Adventurous
ISBN: 1600010008

Factory School. 2006

The Adventurous is a tale of two scribblers who dare to scale the heights of each other, of words, of genres, and of the institutions that make up such things as marriage and Others and words and genres. Our intrepid transmogrifiers encounter forces that lift and separate prose and poetry, she and he, molehill and mountain. Climbing, they get their words together--but the words veer off the trail. Order deters

cairns push

switchbacks pull. And if that's not enough impediment, they go to a conference, he gets fired, and she interviews at MLA. So our transceivers are not...civil. The Adventurous stakes a claim to romantic levitation--but it is not a love story. It is summit without descent, at play in the fields of talus, straddling the crevasse. It is a tongue lashing high-altitude scree.

Talking Out of School
ISBN: 1564785173

Dalkey Archive Press. 2008

Humour abounds in this memoir which reads like an expose of the power structures in America's higher education system: Whose got it, how they're abusing it, what everyone else is willing to do to get it and the social cost of doing educational business this way."

Dead Woman Hollow
ISBN: 1438442629

Excelsior Editions. 2012

Three generations of Northern Appalachian women confront poverty, violence, and isolation.

Dead Woman Hollow, a shady glade named for a rattlesnake-bit mother left to die in 1908, is a novel that testifies to the true grit that is a birthright of the women of Northern Appalachia's remote mountain areas - a beautiful and brutal land with a culture hostile to change.

The novel spans three generations of women's lives connected by geography and history. It begins during World War I, when a Philadelphian pro-suffrage group attempts to bring their replica Liberty Bell to every one of the sixty-seven county seats in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, drawing the interest of a young woman with a mysterious past. Then during the Depression, a headstrong girl finds the means to feed her sisters, her cousin, and her stepfather, even as the latter scours the region looking for work to stave off starvation. And in the waning years of the Reagan Era, two lesbian hikers are stalked by a local mountain man. Propelled by prose that is as stylistically stark as the events it depicts, this novel is testament to the enduring mettle of women who find themselves at the crosshairs of history and circumstance.



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