Graduate Fiction Workshop
The major work of the semester will be the analysis of our own fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid manuscripts, presented by small groups to the workshop as any published literary text might be, then discussed by all. Outside readings will suggest a broad range of aesthetic possibilities. Finally, we'll explore publishing options of all sorts.
Graduate Poetry Workshop
Our goal in this class is to lock in on our vision for our own writing and help others to lock in on theirs. We will do this by reading widely and diversely and thinking about the aesthetic, occult and political powers of poetry in our contemporary and pre-contemporary publishing universes. We will read across cultures and languages with an open and receptive ear, eye, heart and brain, ready to be changed by poetry. We will think about poetry as a medium among media and we will test our ideas by encountering texts and artworks that we do not normally think of as poetry at all.
Reading the Body Politic
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
***This course will only be available to MFA students***
In this course we will examine the strange intimacy between experience and writing as it manifests in literature that engages notions of the body, language, community, memory and history. We will ask: How do experiences of violence, oppression, anxiety and indignity manifest in language? How do current and past humanitarian crises across the globe impact the production and study of literature? How does literature resist, update or corroborate the fantasy of the American Dream? What does it mean to be American? How do writers invent linguistic structures in order to document community histories and respond to personal, political, social, economic and moral crises? In order to inhabit these questions, we will read texts that explore the outer limits of language. What the margins of language offers writers is the necessary distance from which to exert pressure on centralizing forms of speech, to expose subtle forms of censorship, and to record and respond to historical crises. The stories we tell ourselves about who we are—the very grammar of those narratives—shapes our perception of self and world. Manipulating grammar, targeting limiting or exclusionary forms of speech, can lead to a shift in consciousness both for the writer and the reader. That kind of rigor allows literature to have an impact on the social body. That kind of rigor allows us to probe what’s been kept off limits and obscured by secrecy or state-sanctioned violence. That kind of rigor allows us to think of literature as a practice of “beloved community.” We will read authors who navigate the subtle constraints placed on our speech in order to bring previously invisible forms of suffering into the realm of public discourse. Readings will include works by authors such as Amir Ahmadi Arian, Alexander Chee, Ocean Vuong, Natalie Diaz, Solmaz Sharif, Roger Reeves, Natasha Tretheway, Tommy Orange, Viet Than Nguyen, Kevin Young, Jericho Brown, Mahmoud Darwish, Edward Said, Elias Khoury, Toni Morrison, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Leila Lalami among others.
Practicum: Literary Publishing
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
A review of the current state of literary publishing in the U.S. and abroad.