Division of Interdisciplinary Inquiry: Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing
Professional Title: M.F.A. Creative Writing Faculty
Areas of Academic Focus and Expertise: Fiction
Representative List of Recent Courses Taught: Distance-Learning Courses:· Creative Writing I-IV · Craft and Reflection I-III· Graduating Seminar Preparation· Creative ThesisResidency Seminars:· Observation: Seeing Like a Writer· Dialogue: The Deliberate Illusion· The Literary Homage
Education: B.A., Anthropology, Connecticut College; M.A., Creative Writing, Brown University
Representative List of Recent Publications / Exhibitions: Books:The Persistence of Memory (novel, 2004)Temporary Sojourner & Other African Stories (1989)Selections in Books & Anthologies in:A Man With a Pan; IOU: New Writing on Money; Retellings: A Thematic Literature; Room to Grow: Twenty-Two Writers Encounter the Pleasures and Paradoxes of Raising Young Children; Jewish Writing in the Contemporary World: South Africa; Global Cultures: A Transnational Short-Fiction Reader; Reader’s Catalog; Voices & Visions: A Television Course in Modern American Poetry; The Yale University School of Medicine Book of the Heart.Work Published in:Tuesday, Esquire, University of Iowa International Writing Program 100 Words Project, Tarpaulin Sky, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Social Text 15, Crawl Out Your Window 9 & 10, Welter, StoryQuarterly, Hellcoal Annual.
Teaching Philosophy: My teaching philosophy is constantly evolving...in response to what I'm reading, encountering in daily life and in the classroom, or learning from my students. My basic goal is to provide my students with the tools to teach themselves. Some of these tools have to do with how we gain access to the creative, inspired, subconscious sides of ourselves; others have to do with our critical faculties. The writing workshops are particularly useful to help people learn to become their own best editors through editing the work of others.
Beyond that, I'm strongly interested in questions of how we live in, engage with, and observe the world. I teach a seminar on the art of observation or "seeing like a writer." Understanding our own habits of mind and how these affect what and how we see is vital to also understanding that others see differently, and that you can show a great deal about who people are by what it is that they notice or fail to notice.
My aim is to encourage my students to move their own work to its highest level, not to write like me or according to some prerequisite standard of what makes a good story. There are always a variety of styles and approaches to writing in my workshop, and I'm delighted when someone "goes too far." Beyond that, I have to agree with Henry James that "the only condition that I can think of attaching to the composition of (a work of fiction) is, that it be interesting.Awards: Koret Foundation Jewish Book Prize for The Persistence of Memory, which was named a "notable book" or "best book" by The L.A. Times, The New York Times, and The Washington Post; National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, 1994 and 1983; Ingram Merrill Foundation Grant; Shane Stevens Fellowship in Fiction, Bread Loaf Writers Conference. Fellowships at Yaddo, MacDowell, and Djerassi Arts Colonies. Nominee for Dublin International IMPAC Prize and the Sunday Times (South Africa) Fiction Prize.Past affiliations: Visiting Writer in Residence, Skidmore College; Visiting Writer, Williams College; Literature Faculty, Bennington College; Assistant Professor, Northwestern University; Visiting Writer, Wesleyan University; Visiting Writer, University of Iowa Graduate Writers Workshop.
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