Associate Professor of Fiction Writing
N.S. Koenings's first novel, The Blue Taxi , and her short story collection, Theft, were published by Little Brown and Company in 2006 and 2009.
Her fiction is usually set in global peripheries, where her diverse, multi-lingual characters search for safety and love in contexts sharply shaped by violence and Empire. Before dedicating herself to fiction writing and pursuing her M.F.A., she completed an M.A. and Ph.D. in socio-cultural anthropology with a focus on East Africa, popular histories of revolution, and politics and witchcraft. She has published anthropological work on Tanzanian politics and expressive culture and has worked for human rights in Africa.
Her current interests include difficult women (Helene Cixous, Clarice Lispector, Janet Frame), inflecting English with sounds and knowledge drawn from other cultures and languages, and the history and theory of narrative craft. In addition to fiction-related work, her areas of expertise include ethnography, Islam in Africa, global migrations, racialized histories, gender, and sexuality.
In this fiction workshop, we will consider contemporary short story collections as well as 'story cycles' or 'novels-in-stories.' In our readings, we will ask: what 'makes' a collection? how does one story build on the next, even when the characters and settings are different? how can telling multiple stories about one event complicate readers' understanding of the fictional world? how do authors' aesthetic and ethical concerns carry over or change across stories? In addition to written reading responses and intensive in-class writing aimed at helping students to discover their own writerly voices, students will produce two to three distinct pieces of fiction that 'speak' to each other, either by taking place in the same world or taking up similar questions or concerns. Some of the authors we'll consider are: Louise Erdrich, Edward P. Jones, Lorrie Moore, Z.Z. Packer, Sherman Alexie, Ramona Ausubel, Karen Russell, Shelley Jackson and Alice Munro.
This course is designed for students in their final semester of Division II who expect to undertake a Division III in creative writing. Our weekly readings will feature works on writing by authors such as Francine Prose, Italo Calvino, bell hooks, Graham Greene, Walter Mosley, Annie Dillard, Helene Cixous, and others, as well as interviews with contemporary writers about their craft. Students will design their own independent project (for example, a series of poems, two long stories, a collection of flash fiction, comix, novel chapters, etc) and create a feasible timeline for their execution. Working in small groups, students will share their work each week and help move each other forward. Students will also do one in-class presentation on an artist of their choice. At the end of the semester, students will present a portfolio of work as well and a reflexive essay. Prerequisite: Two previous workshop courses in creative writing (poetry, fiction, literary journalism, memoir).
Understanding the limits and possibilities of point of view is an essential step in becoming a writer. This reading and workshop course will introduce members to various kinds of literary point of view. Through focused writing exercises, intensive reading of contemporary U.S. and international fiction told in different modes, members will acquire a language for analyzing point of view in fiction, as well as practical experience in using varied points of view themselves. Most importantly, members will refine their ability to read as writers, mining published work for technical insights and guidance. Students will produce 2 pieces of fiction for the workshop and will also write a critical essay about point of view. Prerequisite: At least one college-level intensive creative writing course featuring significant peer critique. Students must view creative writing as a key part of their Division II concentration. Instructor Permission only: NO PERMISSIONS GRANTED UNTIL FIRST WEEK. NO WRITING SAMPLES. ALL INTERESTED STUDENTS MUST ATTEND THE FIRST CLASS.
This seminar course will take as its starting point the idea that 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 is considered 'difficult' - strange, complicated and provocative; and we will use these writings as a springboard for our own weekly written work. Among the authors to be considered are: Helene Cixous, Clarice Lispector, Toni Morrisson, Janet Frame, Angela Carter, Shirley Jackson, May Sarton, Joyce Carol Oates, Rabih Alamedine, Ramona Ausubel, and others.