Kate Zambreno

Undergraduate Discipline

Writing

Graduate Program

MFA Writing Program

Author of the novels Green Girl (Harper Perennial) and O Fallen Angel (Harper Perennial), Zambreno is also the author of Heroines (Semiotext(e)’s Active Agents), Book of Mutter (Semiotexte(e)’s Native Agents), Appendix Project (Semiotext(e)’s Native Agents), and Screen Tests (Harper Perennial). Forthcoming in 2020: a novel, Drifts, from Riverhead. Forthcoming in 2021: a monograph on Hervé Guibert for Columbia University Press. Zambreno also teaches at Columbia University. SLC, 2013–

Undergraduate Courses 2019-2020

Writing

Notebooks and Other Experiments

Open , Seminar—Fall

There is such an alive quality to reading a writer’s notebook—a laboratory of interrupted and ongoing consciousness, whose very irregularities or imperfections give it a wildness unmatched by more plotted or studied works. In this writing seminar, we will read and think through first-person or documentary texts that take on some quality of the notebook, scrapbook, sketchbook, or diary—these forms enthralled to the fragment, the list, the aphorism, the rhythms of the daily, the problem of the person in time and space, and the process of creation. We will read writers' notebooks and other strange and less easily categorizable forms that borrow from the notebook but exist as essay, novel, meditation, poem, trance journal, or pillow book. The syllabus might include notebooks and other experiments from Sei Shonagon, Anne Carson, Sophie Calle, Susan Sontag, Bhanu Kapil, John Cage, David Wojnarowicz, Sarah Manguso, Renee Gladman, Hervé Guibert, Roland Barthes, Moyra Davey, T. Fleischmann, Franz Kafka, and Derek Jarman. You will be keeping a notebook over the course of the semester, and we will be workshopping after midterm more formalized pieces inspired by and taken from the notebook. Open to anyone willing to read and write wildly and seriously.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Notebooks and Other Experiments

Open , Seminar—Fall

There is a marvelously alive quality to reading a writer’s notebook—a laboratory of interrupted and ongoing consciousness, whose very irregularities or imperfections give it a wildness unmatched by more plotted or studied works. In this workshop, we will read and think through first-person or documentary texts that are inspired by or take on some quality of the notebook, scrapbook, sketchbook, or diary—these forms enthralled to the fragment, the list, the aphorism, the rhythms of the daily, the problem of the person in time and space, and the process of creation. We will read artists’ notebooks and writers’ notebooks and other strange and less easily categorizable forms that borrow from the notebook but exist as essay, novel, meditation, poem, or pillow book. The syllabus might include notebooks and other experiments from Sei Shonagon, Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, Bhanu Kapil, David Wojnarowicz, Franz Kafka, Renee Gladman, Albert Camus, Walter Benjamin, Rainer Maria Rilke, Hervé Guibert, Claudia Rankine, Suzanne Scanlon, Durga Chew-Bose, Clarice Lispector, Roland Barthes, Moyra Davey, and Chantal Akerman. Writers will keep a public notebook over the course of the semester and which they will submit weekly. Students are also expected to bring into conference writing inspired by the class, as well as work on a longer conference project. This is a prose workshop, meaning that we’ll be reading inside and outside of genres. The class is open to anyone willing to read and write wildly and seriously.

Faculty

Speculative Fiction Workshop

Workshop—Spring

“That’s how I see the world now,” Anna Kavan remarked to her publisher, Peter Owen, about her turn to speculative and science fiction as a way to respond to personal and global devastation. In this workshop, we will read and write the poetic and philosophical speculative works of literature in which one enters landscapes of unreality or other realities as a way to write an individual often alienated in society—often rewriting and revising fairytales and myths, dream spheres of the human and the animal. We will think about form, language, mood and atmosphere, and concepts like the uncanny, the unreal, and the defamiliarized space while writing and sharing your own work. While writing, we will be thinking about theories of the speculative, with an adventurous reading list that could encompass stories and novels by Franz Kafka, Antoine Volodine, Leonora Carrington, Sofia Samatar, Carmen Maria Machado, Kanai Mieko, Angela Carter, Clarice Lispector, WG Sebald, Renee Gladman, Cristina Rivera Garza, Anne Carson, and more. We could also look at other art forms to think about the mood and atmospheric feelings of the speculative, everything from the paintings of Paula Rego to the television series BoJack Horseman to the films of Chris Marker.

Faculty

Collage/Assemblage/Montage

Open , Seminar—Fall

In this generative seminar, we will think about how writing can be inspired by and catalyzed from visual forms. We will ask how literary texts can take on dimensions, fragments, and layers by seeing and thinking through collage, assemblage, and montage. Much can inspire us about modes of juxtaposition and hybridity—collage is usually marked by an obsessive vision, passionate and constant collecting, and the witty and melancholy gaze of history. Each week, I will pair a collage artist with a chosen text and ask you to write from and about and to be inspired by these visual and literary forms for your own prose pieces that you will assemble and that may cross the border between fiction and nonfiction.Examples of visual artists we might be looking at include Joseph Cornell, Max Ernst, Chris Marker, Nan Goldin, Kara Walker, Hannah Hoch, Ray Johnson, Kurt Schwitters, B. Ingrid Olson, Paul Sepuya, and Isa Genzken. Some of the possible writers that we read for this class include a mix of generations, forms, genres—Bhanu Kapil, Charlie Fox, W. G. Sebald, Claudia Rankine, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Lisa Robertson, Chris Kraus, Danielle Dutton, Wayne Koestenbaum, Anne Carson, and Kathy Acker. This is a prose workshop, meaning that we’ll be reading inside and outside of genres. Open to anyone willing to read and write wildly and seriously.

Faculty

Fiction Mixed-Genre Craft: Auto/Other

Craft—Spring

What can we think about when thinking about writing real people, whether it's about someone we know or someone from history? It seems like the right moment in the contemporary to think seriously about the ethics and aesthetics of both the autoportrait and the portrait of others, which can range from a consideration of character to that of biography. What if there were other forms of literature that weren’t reduced to nonfiction versus fiction? What if we thought of texts as being friendships, or autopsies, or elegies, or investigations? In this prose craft class, we will read texts (mostly novels and essays) that are often about the self, as well as looking outwards, to a consideration of others. We’ll be thinking through innovative literary works that might include Elizabeth Hardwick’s Sleepless Nights, W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn, Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee, Sophie Calle’s Address Book, Anne Carson’s Nox, Danielle Dutton’s Margaret the First, César Aira’s An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter, Édouard Levé’s Suicide, and Chris Kraus’s Aliens and Anorexia.

Faculty