Leanne Shapton

Author of Guestbook (Riverhead Books), Swimming Studies (Blue Rider), Important Artifacts…and Was She Pretty? (Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus + Giroux), The Native Trees of Canada and Sunday Night Movies (Drawn & Quarterly). Former editor of Women in Clothes (Blue Rider), with Heidi Julavits and Sheila Heti. Shapton has written on culture for The New York Times Magazine, T magazine, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, and Granta. Former art director of The New York Times Op-Ed page. Recipient of the 2012 National Book Critic's Circle Award for Autobiography. SLC, 2021–

Previous Courses

MFA Writing

Words and Pictures—Nonfiction Workshop


This workshop will give the nonfiction writer an introduction to using images alongside text, both as direct and oblique captions, and as an efficient means of replacing text. Since the invention of photography, our image literacy has continued to evolve. Our ability to communicate, both publicly and privately, with smartphone photos and videos has made visual storytelling both more widespread and more sophisticated. This workshop will focus on experiments in nonverbal communication. We will discuss and utilize, through in-class exercises and assignments, the history and possibilities of image-based media. The class will develop short, image-based essays to workshop each week, as well as discuss and analyze readings, catalogs, yearbooks, magazines, fliers, postcards, photo books, graphic novels, social media, film, and artist editions—including work by Taryn Simon, Teju Cole, Hans-Peter Feldman, Robert Fusco, Aby Warburg, and Adam Curtis. As we will likely be remote, we will sometimes use a closed circuit of private Instagram accounts to share images and text. While this workshop will be geared toward the nonfiction student, poetry and fiction students are also welcome. Conference time may cover any form of work that the student would like to discuss. By the end of the semester, I hope students might possess a general level of comfort, confidence, and creativity with using words and pictures together.