Part literary critique, part workshop, this class will explore a variety of approaches to rage and the short story.
In this four-week class led by author Dipika Mukherjee (Ode to Broken Things; Shambala Junction), you will read short fiction written by fierce women from around the world. We will be considering the work of writers like Roxane Gay, Ursula Le Guin, Carmen Maria Machado, Amina Gautier, Elizabeth Stroud, Saras Manickam, Alyssa Wong, Jamaica Kincaid, Lauren Groff, Margaret Atwood, Shirley Jackson, Joyce Carol Oates. Part literary critique, part workshop, this class will explore a variety of approaches to rage and the short story.
*WEEK 1: Sexuality and Consent: Atwood, Oates, Gay
The first three stories look at how women’s voices can write relationships when there is clear deception involved. Three beautifully crafted stories with unexpected twists.
In the first week, we will focus on developing memorable characters, whether writing in the first person, or second, or third. We will also experiment with unexpected endings.
*WEEK 2: Politics and Rage: Le Guin, Wong, Jackson
Rage needs to be tempered for the writing to be readable, and these three writers demonstrate a mastery over craft and voice.
In the second week, we focus on developing a strong, assured voice. We will also discuss strategies to tackle tough subjects with sensitivity and respect.
*WEEK 3: Love and Hate: Gautier, Manickam, Stroud
Is it possible to write honestly about families and communities, and still write with empathy? These three stories dig into deep fears and unlikeable characters.
In the third week, we explore writing authentically about cultures and communities. How cultural perspectives are portrayed and who is portraying them is an important consideration, and we will look at writing characters from different countries and ethnicities. We will work on effective dialogues this week.
*WEEK 4: Women at Work: Kincaid, Machado, Groff
Micro-aggressions and outright violence continue to affect the lives of working women in many forms, and these three stories take us into the lives of working women in different communities at three very different times.
In the final week we will look into taking risks with the narrative, whether in the form of an unreliable narrator or experimental stories which attempt new ways of storytelling. We will work on the climax and resolution of effective stories.
Students can expect to write prompt-based short pieces in every class and receive feedback during class should they choose to share their writing. In the final two meetings, time will be set aside to workshop a short story in-progress from each student, and students can opt to send their stories online for critique in class in either the third or the fourth meeting. Guided by literary examples, students will be encouraged to work on at least one piece of their own writing and submit it for publication. This course is suitable for both beginners and more experienced students.
Dipika Mukherjee is an internationally touring writer and sociolinguist. Her work has appeared in journals in the USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Malaysia, Singapore, China, and India and she is the author of the novels Shambala Junction, which won the UK Virginia Prize for Fiction, and Ode to Broken Things, which was longlisted for the Man Asia Literary Prize.