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.
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 Times, LA Times, SF Chronicle, VQR and other publications and broadcast on A&E and at film festivals internationally.
English 190V Reading for Writers: The Nature of Details
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|
|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|
|Maxine Hong Kingston||2000-2001|