Mary Morris

BA, Tufts College. MPhil, Columbia University. Novelist, short-story writer, and writer of travel literature. Author of the novels The Jazz Palace, Crossroads, The Waiting Room, The Night Sky, House Arrest, Acts of God, and Revenge; the short-story collections Vanishing Animals and Other Stories, The Bus of Dreams, and The Lifeguard Stories; the travel memoirs Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone and Wall to Wall: From Beijing to Berlin by Rail; an anthology of the travel literature of women, Maiden Voyages and Angels and Aliens: A Journey West; recent work published in Atlantic Monthly, Narrative, and Ploughshares. Recipient of the Rome Prize in Literature and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and Creative Artists Public Service Awards. SLC, 1994–

Undergraduate Courses 2018-2019


Previous Courses

First-Year Studies “I Won’t Grow Up”: A Fiction Workshop on Coming of Age

Open , FYS—Year

Coming of age is one of the major themes in literature. Childhood and its demise, the loss of innocence, maturity, and memory are all matters that great writers have dealt with through the ages. Indeed, someone has said that writers are people who want to remain children. In this fiction-writing workshop, we will examine the theme as it applies to literature and our lives; and we will learn the craft of writing short stories. Starting with Peter Pan as a focal point, we will talk about what it means to grow up or to not grow up, as the case may be. We will read a wide body of material from writers such as Mark Twain, J. D. Salinger, Anne Frank, Harper Lee, Joyce Carol Oates, Russell Banks, Toni Morrison, Junot Diaz, Alison Bechdel, and Sandra Cisneros. Students will be given weekly prompts to help them get started writing their own stories. They will also keep journals that are intended to help them delve into memory. These journals might include a visual component such as collage, photography, or watercolor. Crayons and cartoons will be welcome—though the writing will always come first. Students will write short stories and personal essays. They will be asked to remember and imagine. They will evolve a body of fictive work that deals with the central issues of childhood—such as family, sense of place, class, gender, ethnicity, and race—writing about the essential moments of initiation into the adult world. All students will present a full-year portfolio of their writing (and possibly other artwork) that deals with this theme.


The Art of the Story: Connected Collections

Open , Seminar—Spring

From Edgar Alan Poe (Fall of the House of Usher) to Sandra Cisneros and Tim O’Brien, writers have been engaged in the art of writing stories that weave and interconnect. Whether through theme as in Poe or, more recently, Dan Chaon’s Among the Missing or Joan Silber’s Ideas of Heaven, through geography as in James Joyce’s Dubliners or Sandra Cisernos’ House on Mango Street, or through characters as in The Things They Carried (O’Brien) or Olive Kittridge (Elizabeth Strout), or finally through an incident that links them such as Haruki Murakami’s After the Quake, Russell Banks’s The Sweet Hereafter, or Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey, writers have found ways to link their stories. This workshop will focus on the writing of stories that are connected in one of these various ways. We will read extensively from connected collections. Exercises will be created in order to help students mine their own material in order to create small collections of narratives with similar preoccupations, terrains, or people.


Additional Information

Selected Publications