The Books We Teach #9: Interview with Danielle Dutton

The Books We Teach series will feature primary, secondary, and post-secondary educators and their thoughts about literature in the face of an evolving classroom. Posts will highlight literary innovations in teaching, contemporary literature’s place in pedagogy, and the books that writers teach. In the spirit of educational dynamism, we encourage readers to contribute their thoughts in the comments section.

Screen shot 2014-01-07 at 12.30.16 AMDanielle Dutton is the author of Attempts at a Life (Tarpaulin Sky) and S P R A W L (Siglio Press), a finalist for the Believer Book Award. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, BOMB, NOON, The Collagist and elsewhere, and anthologized in A Best of Fence and Where We Live Now: An Annotated Reader. She has taught in the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa and is now an assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to teaching and writing, she founded and edits Dorothy, a publishing project, “dedicated to works of fiction or near fiction or about fiction, mostly by women.”

Here, Danielle and I discuss her new class “The Irregularity of Form,” Lena Dunham’s giant book advance, her perverse affinity for assigning “Kew Gardens” to undergrads, and useful thorns in class conversation.

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The Books We Teach #8: Interview with Rick Moody

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Photo: Seamus Kearney

Rick Moody is author of the novels The Four Fingers of DeathThe Ice Storm, Purple AmericaThe Diviner, and Garden State, which won the Pushcart Press Editors’ Book Award. He is also the author of two collections of stories, The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven and Demonology, as well as a memoir, The Black Veil, winner of the PEN/Martha Albrand Award, and a volume of essays, On Celestial Music. He has received the Addison Metcalf Award, the Paris Review’s Aga Khan Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His short fiction and journalism have been anthologized in Best American Stories 2001, Best American Essays 2004, Year’s Best Science Fiction #9, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. He has taught at the State University of New York at Purchase, the Bennington College Writing Seminars, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the New York Writers Institute, and the New School for Social Research. He now teaches creative writing at New York University, Skidmore College, the School of Art at Yale University, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

Here, Rick and I discuss the mentorship class model, his reputation for assigning works that students dislike, his push to rethink pedagogical preconceptions, and students singing (yes, singing) during creative writing classes.

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The Books We Teach #7: Interview with Beth Kephart

The Books We Teach series will feature primary, secondary, and post-secondary educators and their thoughts about literature in the face of an evolving classroom. Posts will highlight literary innovations in teaching, contemporary literature’s place in pedagogy, and the books that writers teach. In the spirit of educational dynamism, we encourage readers to contribute their thoughts in the comments section.

Screen shot 2013-09-02 at 12.12.58 AMBeth Kephart is the author of fifteen books, most recently Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir (Gotham, August 2013). She is a National Book Award finalist, Master Writing Teacher for the national YoungArts program, and frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, Salon.com, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, and many others. Her acclaimed memoirs and young adult fiction have garnered her grants from The National Endowment for the Arts, Pew Center, and The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, among others. Kephart has lectured and taught at universities and high schools across the country, and now teaches creative nonfiction at The University of Pennsylvania.

Here, Beth and I discuss the importance of exercising empathy, the ethics of memoir, and her delight in teaching students who come to her at varying points in their writing lives.

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The Books We Teach #6: Interview with Matthew Salesses

The Books We Teach series will feature primary, secondary, and post-secondary educators and their thoughts about literature in the face of an evolving classroom. Posts will highlight literary innovations in teaching, contemporary literature’s place in pedagogy, and the books that writers teach. In the spirit of educational dynamism, we encourage readers to contribute their thoughts in the comments section.

Screen shot 2013-08-13 at 1.10.01 AMMatthew Salesses is the author of I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2013), The Last Repatriate, and two chapbooks, Our Island of Epidemics and We Will Take What We Can Get. His essays and fiction have appeared in Glimmer Train, The Rumpus, Hyphen, American Short FictionGuernica, NPR, The New York Times Motherlode blog, and elsewhere. He writes a column for The Good Men Project and serves as the Project’s Fiction Editor. While completing his MFA at Emerson, he was a Presidential Fellow and editor of Redivider. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Houston.

Here, Matthew and I discuss his recent teaching experiences at Grub Street, an independent center for creative writing in Boston, Massachusetts.Continue Reading

The Books We Teach #5: Interview with Ryan Call

The Books We Teach series will feature primary, secondary, and post-secondary educators and their thoughts about literature in the face of an evolving classroom. Posts will highlight literary innovations in teaching, contemporary literature’s place in pedagogy, and the books that writers teach. In the spirit of educational dynamism, we encourage readers to contribute their thoughts in the comments section.

Picture 1Ryan Call, author of the acclaimed short story collection Weather Stations (Caketrain), is the winner of the 2011 Whiting Writers’ Award in fiction. Call is a frequent contributor to HTMLGIANT, and his stories have appeared in Mid-American Review, New York Tyrant, Conjunctions, Annalemma, The Collagist, The Los Angeles Review, and elsewhere. He has taught at the University of Houston and George Mason University and now teaches high school English at Episcopal High School in Houston, Texas.

Here, Ryan and I discuss the challenges of teaching high school students how to analyze chunks of text, his love of teaching The Great Gatsby, and the old piano practice room that he uses as his private writing space during the school year.Continue Reading

The Books We Teach #4: Interview with Christine Schutt

The Books We Teach series will feature primary, secondary, and post-secondary educators and their thoughts about literature in the face of an evolving classroom. Posts will highlight literary innovations in teaching, contemporary literature’s place in pedagogy, and the books that writers teach. In the spirit of educational dynamism, we encourage readers to contribute their thoughts in the comments section.

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Christine Schutt is the author of two story collections and three novels. Schutt’s first novel, Florida,was a finalist for the 2004 National Book Award and her second novel, All Souls, was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Her most recent novel, Prosperous Friends (Grove/Atlantic, 2012), was described by The New York Times Book Review as “shot through with [Virginia] Woolf’s lyrical, restless spirit.” She is a Pushcart Prize winner, O. Henry Award recipient, Guggenheim fellow, and senior editor at NOON. All the while, Schutt teaches high school English at The Nightingale-Bamford School in New York City, and has taught writing at Barnard College, Bennington College, Columbia University, Hollins University, Sarah Lawrence College, Syracuse University, UC Irvine, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

Here, Christine chats with me about her go-to high school creative writing exercises, the challenges and excitements she faces as a secondary educator, and her varied experiences teaching high schoolers, undergraduates, and graduate students.Continue Reading

The Books We Teach #3: Interview with Susan Daitch

The Books We Teach series will feature primary, secondary, and post-secondary educators and their thoughts about literature in the face of an evolving classroom. Posts will highlight literary innovations in teaching, contemporary literature’s place in pedagogy, and the books that writers teach. In the spirit of educational dynamism, we encourage readers to contribute their thoughts in the comments section.

Picture 4Susan Daitch is the author of one story collection and three novels—most recently, the much lauded Paper Conspiracies (City Lights, 2011). Her work has appeared in Tin House, Guernica, Conjunctions, Ploughshares, The Brooklyn Rail, and McSweeney’s, among others, and has been anthologized in The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Fiction. Recently it was also featured in The Review of Contemporary Fiction. Susan has taught writing at Columbia University, Barnard College, and The Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She now teaches at Hunter College.

Here, Susan chats with me about advice she has for young writers, the differences between teaching undergraduate and graduate students, and a few works that she turns to as a teacher, time and time again.

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The Books We Teach #2: Interview with Roxane Gay

The Books We Teach series will feature primary, secondary, and post-secondary educators and their thoughts about literature in the face of an evolving classroom. Posts will highlight literary innovations in teaching, contemporary literature’s place in pedagogy, and the books that writers teach. In the spirit of educational dynamism, we encourage readers to contribute their thoughts in the comments section.