Associate Professor of Fiction Writing
She is the author of four novels, translated worldwide to critical acclaim. These include Trespassing, nominated for the Commonwealth Prize in 2003; The Geometry of God, a Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2009, and winner of the bronze award at the Independent Book Publishers Award; and Thinner than Skin, nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature in 2014. In 2018, her short fiction won and was nominated for awards in Zoetrope: All Story, and Calyx A Journal of Art and Literature by Women. Her short fiction has appeared in Granta and The Massachusetts Review, and is forthcoming in Nimrod International Journal of Poetry and Prose and Calyx. Uzma has also written non-fiction for the Guardian, Counterpunch, Drawbridge, Herald and Dawn, among other national and international periodicals and journals, on a range of topics that include women and the arts, U.S. foreign policy, and orientalism, particularly in representations of Muslim women.
Uzma’s fifth novel, The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali, is forthcoming in 2019. Set in the British penal colony of the Andaman Islands during the 1930s, through the Japanese occupation during the Second World War, the book, twenty-seven years in the making, writes into being the stories of people caught in the vortex of history, yet written out of it. These include women prisoners––who were also transported to the prison colony, but have merited scarcely a footnote in the material written on British and Japanese rule of the islands––and the descendants of prisoners. Central to the novel, then, is the question of whose history we believe, and whose we erase. The question is central also to Uzma’s teaching. Her courses offer a global perspective on creative writing and literature, existing at the intersection of history, politics, art, religion, science, and the natural world, with an emphasis on marginalized communities displaced by colonialism and war.
Uzma has taught in Morocco, Pakistan, and Hawai’i. She joined Hampshire College in Fall 2012.
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This is a creative writing workshop, ideal for both Div 1 and Div II students, with a focus on food-its making and consumption, culture and preservation. We'll read and write both fiction and non-fiction, with the purpose of exploring what we eat, with whom we eat, where it comes from, who has access to it, and what foods we've forgotten. All to better appreciate, in the words of environmental activist Vandana Shiva, "Eating as a conversation with other living beings." Students will be asked to incorporate research into their projects, and also fully embrace the revision process, as a way to explore fresh perspectives on one of our most diverse cultural practices and pleasures. The themes could encompass lineage, race, class, gender, hospitality, agriculture, colonialism, hunger, environmental justice, sexuality/sensuality, and more. Students will also be invited to bring to our class supplementary material (written or visual), including recipes. NOTE: Though the course is not by instructor permission, students MUST attend the first of class in order to keep their seats. (keywords: creative writing workshop, food writing, food culture)
This is an intermediate/advanced-level creative writing course, ideal for both Div II and Div III students, including those new to historical fiction. Through reading and writing historical fiction in a range of styles and from a range of places, we will look at how fictional characters are shaped by history. What are the tools writers use to create their characters, and are these tools any different from those used to construct characters in a contemporary setting? Equally, how do we talk about character in historical fiction? Are we looking for a portrayal that in some way complements our understanding of a time and place, one that challenges it-or both, often at the same time? These are among the lively, illuminating questions we will aim to tackle in the course. The focus will be on critical reading and writing, and from there we will move to creative writing, for which you will need to do research, all while keeping in mind that you are not writing a textbook but a narrative. Fact checking the background of your character(s) by doing some basic homework while at the same time remaining true to your imaginings is one of the many challenges we'll embrace. NOTE: Though the course is not by instructor permission, students MUST attend the first of class in order to keep their seats. (keywords: creative writing, historical fiction, history)
This is a creative writing workshop with a focus on recognizing, analyzing, and developing different narrative techniques used to write the short story. Each technique will be studied individually, as well as in relation to the work as a whole. As David Lodge writes in The Art of Fiction, "Effects in fiction are plural and interconnected, each drawing on and contributing to all the others." We will take apart these "effects" in order to better appreciate how they are linked, both when reading and writing. Course emphasis will also be on regular attendance, participation, and a commitment to peer work. Please note: While the course is not by instructor permission, in order to keep up with course requirements, students must attend the first day in order to keep their seat. (keywords: creative writing, fiction, short story)
This is an advanced hybrid literature and creative writing workshop. We will read writers who, through their art, have interrogated the nature of justice, pushed boundaries of inclusion, and highlighted lives that are written out of history, story, and memory--and are still written out today--both inside and outside the United States, and in many different contexts. For instance, in the context of those profiled for their race, religion, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical ability. Those dislocated by wars, colonialism, climate change, and poverty. Or those struggling to enter a groundbreaking career. Among the course goals is a celebration of the power of art and the political imagination to forge vital connections across cultures, while respecting the specificity of context. Course requirements will include critical reading and your own creative writing. Div III students are invited to bring their final projects, provided this intersects in some way with the course material. There will be a high emphasis on regular attendance, participation, and a commitment to peer work. Possible reading will include works by: Claudia Rankine, Tommy Orange, Octavia Butler, Nam Le, Betool Khedairi, Solmaz Sharif, Arundhati Roy, Jennifer Finney Boylan, and many more. Please note: While the course is not by instructor permission, in order to keep up with course requirements, students must attend the first day in order to keep their seat.(keywords: creative writing, political, social justice)
This is a creative writing workshop in which students will read and create comics, with an emphasis on comics rooted in autobiographical stories and/or narratives of displacement. Because comics are primarily a visual medium, as much time will be spent considering the visual and artistic choices of the creators as discussing their thematic elements. The same is true for your own work, which will be workshopped for its visual as much as written inventiveness. It doesn't matter if you cannot draw well! Lots of "professional" comics artists are limited in their visual skills. What matters is that you learn to see what these artists are doing, through trying it yourself. In other words, what matters is your devotion to a steady learning practice. In addition to creating comics, course requirements will include keeping up with the reading, regular attendance, in-class presentations and participation, and a thorough commitment to the work of your peers. Please note: This class is not suited to students with an interest in superhero comics. Though superhero comics continue to dominate the form, NO superhero comics will be read, accepted, or workshopped in this class. We will instead read works that might include: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui, Freedom Hospital by Hamad Sulaiman, Munnu by Malik Sajad, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, Alienation by Ines Estrada, and more. Also note: Though the course is not by instructor permission, students MUST attend the first class in order to keep their seats.
This is an intermediate to advanced creative writing workshop with a focus on writing closely and observing the natural world, particularly-though not exclusively-the realm of birds. Both fiction and creative non-fiction will be written and read, with the purpose of more intimately understanding what it means to have an environmental imagination, local and global, and why environmental, social, and racial justice are inseparable. Students may be asked to incorporate research into their projects, as a way to practice humility and embrace writing as an uncertain exercise in "failing better each time." To this end, students will be expected to fully embrace the revision process. The course is ideal for those with a love of both the sciences and the arts, though it is also ideal for those who may not know it. Students are also invited to bring to our class material (written or visual) that has challenged how you think about birds and nature. It can be as short as a paragraph. Though the course is not by instructor permission, students MUST attend the first class in order to keep their seat.