Fiction in the Time of COVID: A Two-Session Creative Writing Workshop

with Karen Russell
Tuesday, June 2, 2020 • Thursday, June 4, 2020
4 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. • 5:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.

Giovanni Boccaccio set his fourteenth-century tapestry of stories, The Decameron, in a world of poetry and music in the shadow of the Black Death. Framed as a story-telling game, the book collects tales of deceit, intrigue, sex, escape, many of which have surprisingly happy endings. In this workshop, we will read a short tale from The Decameron, the first chapter of Severance by Ling Ma, and a story by Stephen Millhauser, “The Invasion from Outer Space.” We’ll discuss the role of fiction, how art and community can combat nihilism and despair, and consider the power of stories told from the first-person plural point of view: a vast and diverse “we.” In the second session, teachers will briefly share original writing inspired by the class.

Karen Russell has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, the “5 under 35” prize from the National Book Foundation, the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, and the Berlin Prize from the American Academy. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, son, and daughter. Her latest short story collection, Orange World, was just released in paperback.

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