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Nov. 12–14 Weekend, 2021. Using the First Person Point of View with Karen Bender November 2021 is a Course

Nov. 12–14 Weekend, 2021. Using the First Person Point of View with Karen Bender November 2021

Time limit: 100 days

Spots remaining: 4

$300 Enroll

Full course description



Using the First Person Point of View: A Craft Intensive (Weekend Workshop)

Karen Bender, Instructor


Friday, November 12–Sunday, November 14, 2021

Friday on Zoom, 7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. Iowa/Central Time (8:00–9:00 Eastern; 5:00–6:00 Pacific; 6:00–7:00 Mountain) Introductory meeting

Saturday and Sunday on Zoom, 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. Iowa/Central Time (11:00–4:00 Eastern; 8:00–1:00 Pacific; 9:00–2:00 Mountain)

Saturday and Sunday meetings include a one-hour break. Class meets for four hours each day.

Fee: $300

Course Description

This weekend class will be a chance to dive deep into the first person point of view in fiction. First person is the most intimate point of view, giving the reader a clear portal into a character’s experience and feelings. It can help the reader get to know a character in the most direct way. It’s also a flexible point of view. In this class, we will look at remote, descriptive, obsessive, and voice-driven first-person perspectives. 

On Saturday, we will read stories by James Joyce, Jamaica Kincaid, Miranda July, and Eve Babitz to look at the many ways writers use this perspective. Then we’ll do in-class writing exercises in which students will have a chance to practice using first person point of view and also share their work with the class.

Saturday night, students will write a one-page opening to a story using first person point of view. On Sunday, students will share these exercises with the class, and learn about how to develop their first-person narrator.

Come to class ready to produce work, read some great stories, and explore this vibrant and flexible point of view.


Karen E. Bender is the author of the story collections Refund, which was a Finalist for the National Book Award in 2015, shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Story prize and Longlisted for the Story prize; and The New Order, which was Longlisted for the Story prize. Her novels are A Town of Empty Rooms and Like Normal People, which was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year. Her fiction has appeared in magazines including The New YorkerGrantaPloughsharesZoetropeThe Yale ReviewThe Harvard ReviewGuernica, and Story, and reprinted in Best American Short StoriesBest American Mystery StoriesNew Stories from the South: The Year's Best, and have won three Pushcart prizes. She has taught at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and also in the M.F.A. programs at Hollins University, Warren Wilson College, the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and Chatham University. She has recently joined the Core Faculty at the Alma College M.F.A. in creative writing. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rona Jaffe Foundation. Visit Karen at

Registration & Fees

The fee for this course is $300. Payment in full is required to register.

Enrollment for this course opens Wednesday, October 27, at 10:00 a.m. Central Time.

Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Class size is limited to 12.

Note: Your credit card payment will be processed by an external provider and will appear on your credit card statement as “UI Writing—Magid Center.”

Refund & Cancellation Policy

If you need to cancel your enrollment in a Festival class, please let us know as soon as possible. We can only offer full refunds if you cancel two weeks prior to the start of class. After that, before the start date of class, we can offer a 50% refund. We cannot refund day-of cancellations, and we cannot refund or partially refund tuition once the class has begun.

Terms & Community Policy

The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a community built on an assumption of shared enterprise, in the spirit of mutual respect. We reserve the right to a) revoke the registration of or b) dismiss from the program any person who disrupts the learning/working environment of others. Participants in the Festival are subject to all University of Iowa policies governing conduct in our community, whether online or in person.



Contact the Iowa Summer Writing Festival: Phone: (319) 335-4160.

Our tiny staff is working remotely. If you phone and we miss you, please leave a message!