Stein Visiting Writers

Each year, the Creative Writing Program welcomes a distinguished writer to teach a Stanford writing seminar to undergraduates. These unique classes are kept small--limited to no more than 15 students--and they focus on a subject of the writer’s expertise and choosing. These seminars are made possible with the generous support of Isaac and Madeline Stein.

The writer also holds a public reading and colloquium. For information about events with previous Stein Visiting Writers, refer to our Past Events page.


Ed Ntiri


Laleh Khadivi


Laleh Khadivi is an author of fiction and non-fiction. Her Kurdish Trilogy and short fiction have been awarded the Whiting Award, The Barnes and Noble Discover New Writers Award, an NEA grant and a Pushcart Prize. Her storytelling extends to the screen and to journalism, with works appearing in the New York TimesLA TimesSF ChronicleVQR and other publications and broadcast on A&E and at film festivals internationally. 



English 190V Reading for Writers: The Nature of Details


  • Offered: Spring 2023

  • Instructor: Professor Khadivi

  • Satisfies the Intermediate/Advanced Prose requirement

  • Enrollment granted on priority basis. To be considered for enrollment, please submit the Spring 2023 Course Preference Form.

You and I walk into a room. We are asked to write what we notice. Our observations, it turns out, are wildly different. I comment on the lighting, the cracks in the ceiling, the stain on the carpet. I am cold. You see the view of treetops out the window, a wadded-up sandwich wrapper, the writing on the whiteboard. You mention that the room feels stuffy, a bit too warm. 

Writing is made of details. In the pyramid of writing nutrients (like the food pyramid where grains and vegetables are the wide bottom and candy and coffee are the tiny top), details are foundational. A writer’s approach to detail shapes the originality of their voice as much as rhythm, pacing, and character. How we observe the nature of the world around us differentiates our work, our selves, and the more writers lean into that difference, the more possibility for originality. 

In this class, we will study short stories, short novels, film, and television scripts to understand how the choice of details about weather, landscape, bodies, faces, voices, time, space, and feeling determine the literary experience. We will read actively, noting the cause and effect of particular details on the emotional, intellectual, and dramatic tone of the story. How come some work has so little detail but feels so real? Conversely, how do some works fill with detail and come off hollow? The works we read are starting points for experimentation in your own work. Class assignments will consist of five short creative responses and a final short story.


Stein Visiting Writers VIsting period
Andrew Sean Greer 2021-2022
Lan Samantha Chang and Camille T. Dungy


No Stein Visiting Writer this year 2019-2020
Rebecca Solnit 2018-2019
Ron Carlson and Rebecca Solnit 2017-2018
Stuart Dybek and Rebecca Solnit 2016-2017
Larissa MacFarquhar and Philip Gourevitch 2015-2016
Joyce Carol Oates 2014-2015
Richard Bausch 2013-2014
Richard Powers 2012-2013
Abraham Verghese 2011-2012
Charles Baxter 2010-2011
Richard Powers 2009-2010
Mary Gordon 2008-2009
Colm Tóibín 2007-2008
Ron Hansen 2006-2007
Colm Tóibín 2005-2006
Bharati Mukherjee 2004-2005
John Coetzee 2003-2004
Michael Ondaatje 2002-2003
Vikram Seth 2001-2002
Maxine Hong Kingston 2000-2001