Writers in Residence - Spring Quarter 2008

Mary Anne MohanrajMary Anne Mohanraj
Visiting Writer in Residence Spring Quarter 2008

Mary Anne Mohanraj will teach Writing 301, The Art of Fiction

MARY ANNE MOHANRAJ is the author of three collections of short stories, Bodies in Motion, Silence and the Word and Torn Shapes of Desire. She also has written a Sri Lankan cookbook, A Taste of Serendith, and was the recipient of a 2006 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship. She is the executive director of DesiLit, an Asian American literary festival, and of the Speculative Literature Foundation.

Mohanraj will be teaching The Art of Fiction: Writing Your Identity. Discussions of identity politics are often framed around questions of minority authenticity -- can the straight white male, for example, write about the queer brown woman? How should he go about it? What must he be careful about? While such discussions can be fruitful, what is often obscured in that framing is the fact that each and every one of us, including the straight white male, possesses complex identities of their own -- identities that offer rich material in a writer's fiction. In this course, you'll be encouraged to examine a variety of elements of your own identity: race, age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, class, nationality, political orientation, and much much more -- all through the lens of fiction. We'll be aiming to avoid polemic and create powerful stories with rich and compelling characters, while also exploring the basic elements of fiction writing: plot, dialogue, point of view, setting, structure, and more.