In this class we will play with techniques for powerfully and vividly bringing new dimensions to the places we want to convey in our fiction, whether these places be real or imagined, mappable or fantastical (or some hybrid of all those qualities!). We'll ask: How does a place's history influence a character's sense of where they are? How does memory (collective or individual) alter our understanding of a place's meaning? How can place serve as a way to sharpen characterization? We'll discuss short excerpts from a range of texts, including graphic novels like Richard McGuire's Here as well as the work of novelists like W.G. Sebald and Hiromi Kawakami. We'll also spend a dedicated portion of this class on in-class writing exercises that will help you delve more deeply into the spaces your fiction inhabits.
Lee Conell is the author of The Party Upstairs, a novel released July 2020 from Penguin Press. She’s also the author of the story collection Subcortical, which was awarded The Story Prize Spotlight Award, an Independent Publisher Book Award, and an American Fiction Award. She has received a 2020 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as writing fellowships from the Japan-United States Friendship Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Vanderbilt University, and the Yiddish Book Center. Her fiction appears in the Oxford American, Kenyon Review online, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere; her stories have won the Nelson Algren Award from the Chicago Tribune, and have been shortlisted in Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize anthology. She’s taught fiction writing at Vanderbilt University, Sewanee: The University of the South, Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital, and the Nashville Public Library. Some interviews and features with Lee can be found at The Millions, Memorious, Split Lip Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, The Collagist, and American Short Fiction.
Lee Conell is a returning teacher the Porch. Welcome back!