Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Swahili Studies
She received her Ph.D. in socio-cultural anthropology and her M.F.A. in creative writing from Indiana University, and her B.A. in African Studies from Bryn Mawr College.
Nathalie’s ethnographic research is focused on the historical imagination, the occult and the imaginal, and discourses of hardship and wellbeing in Pemba, Zanzibar. She has published articles about the politics of identity, the occult and politics, and collective memories of the 20th century in Pemba. She is currently working on the book "No Sorcery Anymore: power, agency and the social imagination in Pemba, Zanzibar," and in 2018 will begin a new project on spirit biographies.
Publishing fiction under the name N.S. Koenings, she is focused on global peripheries, where her diverse, multi-lingual characters search for safety and love in contexts shaped by colonialism and Empire. Her first novel, The Blue Taxi, and her short story collection, Theft, were published by Little Brown and Company in 2006 and 2009. Her short stories have appeared in Story Quarterly, and Glimmer Train, and she has forthcoming work in The Enkare Review.
Her translations of Swahili literature have appeared in The New Orleans Review, Asymptote, and Words Without Borders.
In anthropology, her current interests include Islam, love and gender, spirits and dreams, social geography, and histories of violence. In literature, her commitments are to African literature, literature in translation, women’s experimental fiction, and all aspects of craft. In all her teaching, Nathalie is committed to the collective production of knowledge, deep listening, and reflexivity.
The course is designed for creative writers interested in the 'literary magical,' in women's visions, and in discovering the richness of their own imaginations - in a powerful literary vein that will adhere to conventions of no particular genre. Students will be asked to: reimagine the real; write the future, the past, or the now, as they flourish in their own imaginarium; and discover what strange and unique visions might invigorate their writing. We will focus on works by women who, while often obscured in discussions of surrealism, have long been engaged in 'writing the world askew.' Students' writing will be guided by the readings. Authors we will read include writers from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. Possible readings by: Lesley Nneka Arimah, Ramona Ausubel, Leonora Carrington, Shelly Jackson, Shirley Jackson, Kelly Link, Nobuka Takagi, Clarice Lispector, Helen Oyeyemi, Silvina Ocampo, Nnedi Okorafor, and Ali Smith. Prerequisite: A writing class, preferably in creative writing, with intensive peer review and revision
This seminar course will take as its starting point the idea that all women's lives are complex, valuable, and interesting, and that creative writers can benefit from closely and courageously imagining, exploring, and textualizing them. Our readings will focus on women writers whose work - including biography, philosphy, poetry, and fiction - is considered 'difficult' - strange, complicated and provocative. We will use these writings as a springboard for our own weekly written work. Formal assignments include 2 class presentations and 3 revised creative writing pieces. Among the authors to be considered are: Audre Lorde, Helene Cixous, Irena Klempfisz, Assata Shakur, Maria Ndiaye, bell hooks, May Sarton, Maggie Nelson, Sandra Cisneros, Warsan Shire, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Instructor Permission only: NO PERMISSIONS GRANTED UNTIL FIRST WEEK. NO WRITING SAMPLES. ALL INTERESTED STUDENTS MUST ATTEND THE FIRST CLASS.
Essential to reading is a sense of where stories come from, in whose voice and from what position narratives unfold. While 'point of view' in fiction is a technical term whose modes must be understood, it is equally a matter of vision, position, ethics, knowledge and voice. Reflecting on their own commitments, class members will encounter and write in a variety of literary points of view. We will ask: What stories and whose voices have we rarely heard? Who are our narrators and what are they uniquely placed to say? What do they fail to see? How do 'distance' and 'intimacy' operate in various points of view? What unique freedoms are inherent to each, and how can experimentation help us to determine the best point of view for our own individual projects? Students will produce two workshop pieces, and respond in writing to our readings, and submit a final portfolio. Prerequisite: One college-level writing class with significant peer critique.
African fiction today is gaining prominence on the global literary stage, and has much to tell us about about the world. In this course, we will read a selection of contemporary African fiction, writing creatively in response to our readings. We will also reflect actively on our own individual relationships to the idea of 'Africa.' As this is a tutorial intended for first-year students, we will also discover the Hampshire community together, and think about what community means to us. Students will be supported as they make their way through Division 1, and consider the possibilities raised by interdisciplinary study. Course activities will be designed with an eye to identifying resources for students. We may also watch African films together and go on outings as a group. Authors we may read include: Binyavanga Wainaina, Mariama Ba, Okot p'Bitek, Chimamanda Aidichie, Monica arak de Nyeko, Leslile Nneka Arimah, Warsan Shire, Tendai Huchu, and Roland Rugero.