Uzma Aslam Khan, assistant professor of fiction writing, received an M.F.A in creative writing from the University of Arizona. She is the author of four novels, including Trespassing, The Geometry of God, and Thinner than Skin. Trespassing was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize 2003. The Geometry of God was voted one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2009, was a 2009 finalist in Foreword's Book of the Year Awards, and received a bronze medal in the Independent Publishers Book Award 2010. Thinner than Skin was long-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2012 and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2014. Her novels have been translated extensively worldwide. Her short fiction has appeared in various literary magazines and anthologies, such as Granta, The Massachusetts Review, and And the World Changed.
Khan’s non-fiction has also appeared worldwide, in Counterpunch, Drawbridge, First City, Dawn, among other journals, as well as in the anthology How They See Us: Meditations on America. It covers a wide range of subjects, including women in the arts, ethnic warfare, and US foreign policy.
She has taught in Morocco, Pakistan, and Hawai’i, and joined Hampshire College in the fall of 2012.
This is an intermediate creative writing course divided into two segments. The first will focus on creative non-fiction, including but not limited to the lyric essay, memoir, and travel writing. As a transition to the second segment, we'll explore the boundary between non-fiction and fiction. For instance, is the former more thesis-driven, argumentative? Does it leave room for elements of fiction to be drawn, such as humor and characterization? Finally, we'll discuss which you prefer to read and write, fiction or non-fiction, and why. For both parts, the focus will be on critical reading and writing, as well as on creative writing, for which you will need to do research. NOTE: Students MUST attend the first day of class in order to be considered for enrollment.
Through reading novels and short stories in a range of styles and from a range of places, we will look at how fictional characters shape and are shaped by history. What are the tools writers use to create their characters, and 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? The focus will be on critical reading and writing, as well as on creating your own original works of fiction, for which you will need to do research, all while keeping in mind that you are not writing a text book 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 imagining of the story is one of the many challenges this course will embrace. NOTE: Students must attend the first day of class in order to be considered for enrollment.
The focus will be on recognizing, analyzing, and developing different narrative techniques. 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. While the course is open to those who are new to college-level creative writing workshops, as well as to those who have taken workshops before, ALL students MUST attend the first day of class in order to be considered eligible for enrollment.
Our focus will be on how novelists grapple with writing about war, including wars that are ongoing. How has each writer sought to depict the complex, delicate nuances of human drama, along with the "big" themes? How have the approaches changed according to the military "sophistication" of the times, and a conflict's (in)visibility in the media? To what extent does literature sensitize us to concepts of "good" vs "evil" and "liberator" vs. "terrorist," or merely affirm what we think we know? Class requirements include participation in discussions; response papers; individual and/or group presentations on each book; polished essays, including a final research paper. NOTE: This is a literature course, not a creative writing writing, though creative writing *may* be offered as an option for one of the assigned papers. Also note that students must attend the first day of class in order to be considered for enrollment.
Assistant Professor of Fiction Writing
Mail Code HA
Emily Dickinson Hall 16
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002