Domenica Ruta

BA, Oberlin College. MFA, University of Texas–Austin, Michener Center for Writers. A fiction writer and memoirist from Massachusetts and a scholarship kid at Phillips Academy Andover and Oberlin, Ruta has worked as a videographer and editor, bookstore clerk, waitress, bartender, English-as-a-Foreign-Language teacher, nanny, nursing home caregiver, domestic violence hotline advocate, and house cleaner. Her first novel, Last Day (Speigal & Grau/Penguin Random House, 2019), was named one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times. Ruta’s short fiction has been published in Boston Review, Indiana Review, and Epoch. Her essays have appeared in 9th Letter, New York Magazine, and elsewhere. She reviews books for The New York Times,, and American Scholar and works as an editor, curator, and advocate for solo moms at SLC, 2022–

Previous Courses

MFA Writing

Embodied Text–Nonfiction Craft


In this craft class, we will explore the different ways in which authors of creative nonfiction inhabit their texts; the pleasures (as both readers and writers) of such embodiment; and the aesthetic, emotional, and political pitfalls of such deep immersion into the characters, landscapes, and experiences of supposed subjectivities. Through generative exercises, meditation, experimentation, and play, we will inhabit new and, hopefully, exciting spaces in our writing. Close reading of authors such as Marlon James, Louise Erdrich, Michael Twitty, Barbara Demmick, Lydia Yuknavitch, Katherine Raven, Melissa Febos, and others will inspire and instigate us.


Nonfiction Workshop


This memoir workshop will follow the traditional format of manuscript exchange and evaluation with a particular emphasis on Kaula, or community building. Constructive criticism is not constructive; the only helpful "critiques" meet each individual author exactly where they are, on their own unique terms, and offer support and encouragement of what we, as readers, perceive, from our highest selves, are the author's intentions for the work. This can only be achieved in a safe and mutually respectful community. In conference, students will complete an intensive structural analysis of a book-length, published work of personal narrative (either memoir or "collected essays," aka memoir) and will take turns presenting to the class an excerpt of the book that they have chosen for conference study. Please come to the first class with a vague idea of which book you are interested in studying on a deeper level this semester.