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Faculty Feature: Nell Arnold

Submitted by on August 19, 2013 – 9:35 amNo Comment

Nathalie (Nell) Arnold, associate professor of fiction writing, received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Indiana University and publishes under the name N.S. Koenings. Her first novel, The Blue Taxi , and her short story collection, Theft, were published by Little Brown and Company in 2006 and 2009.

Her fiction is usually set in global peripheries, where her diverse, multi-lingual characters search for safety and love in contexts sharply shaped by violence and Empire. Before dedicating herself to fiction writing and pursuing her M.F.A., she completed an M.A. and Ph.D. in socio-cultural anthropology with a focus on East Africa, popular histories of revolution, and politics and witchcraft. She has published anthropological work on Tanzanian politics and expressive culture and has worked for human rights in Africa.

Her current interests include difficult women (Helene Cixous, Clarice Lispector, Janet Frame), inflecting English with sounds and knowledge drawn from other cultures and languages, and the history and theory of narrative craft. In addition to fiction-related work, her areas of expertise include ethnography, Islam in Africa, global migrations, racialized histories, gender, and sexuality.

Selected Courses

Style and Sensibility: Strategies for Fiction Writers (Spring 2013)

What does it mean to say a writer’s work is “lyrical” or “spare,” “realistic,” “modern” or “mythical”? In this reading and workshop course, we will explore the concepts of ‘sensibility’ and ‘style’ as they apply to language and story. We will identify the sentence-level underpinnings of specific tonal effects, considering: syntax, diction, word families, the color and rhythm of language, punctuation, point of view, voice, and imagery. Through close reading of works by a wide range of writers, we will analyze writing styles, link aesthetic effects and intellectual/political commitments to craft choices, and explore relationships between literal content and the way content is delivered. In addition to weekly imitation exercises and analyses of readings, members will submit one long (10-15 page) piece for peer critique, which they will significantly revise.

Who’s Telling This Story:point of view for fiction writers (Fall 2013)

Understanding the limits and possibilities of point of view is an essential step in becoming a writer. This reading and workshop course will introduce members to various kinds of literary point of view. Through focused writing exercises, intensive reading of contemporary U.S. and international fiction told in different modes, members will acquire a language for analyzing point of view in fiction, as well as practical experience in using varied points of view themselves. Most importantly, members will refine their ability to read as writers, mining published work for technical insights and guidance. Students will produce 2 pieces of fiction for the workshop and will also write a critical essay about point of view.