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On Coming-of-Age, Friendship, and Family: Creative Writing with Rasheeda Saka (online Session 1 22) is a Course

On Coming-of-Age, Friendship, and Family: Creative Writing with Rasheeda Saka (online Session 1 22)


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Full course description

There is a separate application process for this course. If you have not been accepted into the Iowa Young Writers' Studio online Summer Residential Program you are not eligible to enroll.

Creative Writing with Rasheeda Saka: On Coming-of-Age, Friendship, and Family

In our course, we will consider the contemporary bildungsroman—commonly referred to as the coming-of-age narrative or, in more accurate terms, “the story of development”—as a means of reflecting on what it means to change (as writers and readers) both in fiction and our everyday lives. While we might be familiar with the coming-of-age novel—Catcher in the Rye (1951), To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), It (1986), Purple Hibiscus (2003), Call Me By Your Name (2007), and Never Let Me Go (2005), as a few examples—what should we make of the coming-of-age short story? Does coming of age require a character attaining genuine sophistication at the end? Does the fact of one’s coming of age need to be the central focus of the story? Or can we (and should we?) prioritize other narrative concerns? Does the character have to be a child or teenager for the story to be considered coming-of-age? What of the (young) adult coming-of-age story? To that end, we will interrogate the bildungsroman within the context of family and friendship, which are unique worlds unto themselves, offering distinct kinds of language, characters, settings, plots, and movements through time. As such, this course demands ethical considerations: what does it mean to write about family and friendship? What kinds of characters and contexts make coming-of-age more or less legible? What kinds of narrative choices characterize the contemporary coming-of-age short story? How do different writers attempt to represent one of the hardest aspects of fiction—that is, rendering change and dynamism on the page? Coming-of-age narratives traverse literary genres and forms, so our readings will also cover an array of literary genres, forms, and periods, including science fiction, horror, and literary realism across the 20th and (mostly) 21st century. We will read flash pieces, short short stories, and long short stories. The goal of this course is, yes, to come away with a particular set of tools and perspectives on fiction-writing but also to develop a practice of play, community, and intellectual and creative flexibility. We are reading fiction not to reach definitive answers but to ask each other better questions and give ourselves permission to think of fiction as a site of exploration and self-discovery. The following writers will very likely be our guiding light beams, as we think, discuss, and write about what it means for people to change or sometimes remain the same in an ever-changing world: Danielle Evans, Alice Munro, Octavia Butler, Jenny Zhang, Jamel Brinkley, Justin Torres, Alexia Arthurs, Anthony Veasna So, and Pemi Aguda.

Rasheeda Saka is a Nigerian American writer, and her short stories have appeared in Joyland Magazine, Triquarterly, and Epiphany Magazine. A graduate of Princeton University, she was Literary Hub’s 2020 fall-winter editorial fellow and the assistant editor of Alta Journal’s California Book Club, for which she was awarded a 2021 Eddie & Ozzie Award for Best Newsletter. She loves biking, drinking chai lattes, and eating fried plantains (not at the same time!). Her favorite writers include Edward P. Jones, Namwali Serpell, Yiyun Li, and Ottessa Moshfegh.




The fee for this course, which includes the fee for the 2-week session of the online Summer Residential Program, is $575. Payment in full is required to enroll in the course.


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."


Cancellation Policy: If you cancel or withdraw before June 1, 2022 a $50 cancellation fee will be deducted from your refund. Thereafter no refunds are available. 




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