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.
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.
Through reading novels 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 make 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? The focus will be on critical reading and writing, but you will also be encouraged to submit original works of creative writing 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.
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.
This course explores why and how writers choose to tell stories through a child's eyes. If successful, their narratives inevitably evince more emotional appeal than if told through adult eyes. Yet the works -- often about war, family break-up, mental or physical disability, murder, and abuse -- are deadly serious. They are for adults. The child is often an innocent observer; the child is also the cunning survivor. In this space between guilelessness and guile lies his or her 'victory' for us, the grown-ups, as we find ourselves rooting for those who can be wronged but not outdone. If the pattern is predictable, it is also endlessly varied. Or is it? We will look at works from around the world and from different time periods that have used the child's voice with varying degrees of success. NOTE: Students must attend the first day of class in order to be considered for enrollment.
This is an intermediate creative writing course that explores Defamiliarization, what David Lodge in The Art of Fiction describes as "Overcoming the deadening effects of habit by representing familiar things in unfamiliar ways." We will go about re-perceiving the ordinary through reading international novels and short stories; offering in-class presentations; writing critical response papers on the readings; writing original works of fiction; and keeping regular "sensory journal" entries in which individual, cultural, and/or universal habits are re-examined (e.g., on dress, foods, music, war.) and periodically shared with the class. Bringing supplementary materials to class (e.g., an article that made you rethink a comfortable position on war, a voice that capture a musical note you didn't think existed, an image that made you want to paint again.) is strongly encouraged. Prerequisite: Students must have taken at least one college-level writing courses featuring intensive peer review. Note: 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