Martha Southgate

Author of four novels; the newest, The Taste of Salt, was published in September 2011 and named one of the best novels of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Boston Globe. Recipient of fellowships from MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Bread Loaf Writers Conference. “Writers Like Me,” her essay published in The New York Times Book Review, appears in the anthology Best African American Essays 2009. Previous nonfiction articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, O, Entertainment Weekly, and Essence. She is at work on a new novel. SLC, 2013-

Graduate Courses

Writing 2017-2018

Fiction Craft Class: Not the Usual Suspects: Examining the Fiction of Women and People of Color

Craft—Spring

In his essay, “White Flights,” author Jess Row writes, “Deracination is a long-lived and nearly universal trope in white American literature and it remains an ideal and covert fantasy in a country which today is about as far from racially homogenous as has been possible in the history of humankind.” In her essay, "The Second Shelf," Meg Wolitzer notes that "women get shockingly short shrift as reviewers and reviewees in most prestigious publications." Becoming better close readers is the primary goal of this class. In the stories that we read, we will examine elements of craft—dialogue, setting, voice, plot, rate of revelation, etc. By learning to read well with a writer’s eye, much can be learned regarding your own work—and, hopefully, your enjoyment of reading fiction will increase as well. But alongside that traditional effort, we will spend some time talking about the intersections of craft with some of these issues: How is race indicated? What is the place of dialect and vernacular? What is cultural appropriation, and how does one avoid it, confront it, discuss it? How does sexuality and gender play out in the work of some women writers? We will read a lot of fiction, as well as nonfiction, that examines these issues. And we will spend a little time discussing the meaning/place of race within literature and within the creative writing industrial complex. Among the authors read will be ZZ Packer, Danielle Evans, Sherman Alexie and others. 

Faculty

Previous Courses

Not all white, not all men, all good writers

Craft—Spring

This craft class will focus on reading short stories (and maybe one novel) by women writers of any race and both male and female writers of color (basically, no white guys. Cheever is one of my favorites but....) There will be a couple of craft lectures but mostly we will examine them through close readings for craft, writing short responses and taking them apart to see how they work, how they use the various tools of fiction (and what we as writers can learn from them to use in our own work). Beyond those traditional goals of a craft class, there will be brief consideration of how these works function in the larger context of  literature, given the difficult place they have occupied in the culture and the political/gender issues that some of the work raises.

Faculty