Picador Seminars by Hilary Leichter in the Summer Term 2022

As part of her tenure in the summer term of 2022, Picador Professor Hilary Leichter will teach two classes at American Studies Leipzig.

American Surrealism

Wednesdays, 11am-1pm, (classroom tba)

What do we mean when we say that a short story is strange? How does an author create a bizarre world that still feels tethered to our own? Language is already embedded with surrealism; how do we tap into the “power of the odd” to shine a light on the human, the emotional, the mundane? You can call it the unheimlich, the uncanny, or the just plain weird. American contemporary fiction is overflowing with
new and off-kilter approaches to the form.

In this seminar, students will become comfortable discussing fiction that mines the otherworldly, the fabulist, and the fantastic. We will read short stories by masters of the form, including Jen George, Carmen Maria Machado, Donald Barthelme, Kelly Link, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, and Alice Sola Kim.

This seminar is part of the BA module “Literature and Culture III.”


Beginning Fiction Workshop

Tuesdays, 11am-1pm, (classroom tba)

This class is about troubleshooting and blueprinting, diagramming and detailing, construction and demolition. Through a close examination of character, voice, plot, perspective, place, and language, we will talk about how to edit our work, and how to get started. What makes fiction operate? What allows it to run smoothly? Why does a story make us feel a certain way, and what mechanism carries the emotion from the page to the reader? How can we better use these tools in our own writing practice? And most importantly—how do you remember the joy and surprise inherent in creation, while you’re facing down the blank page?

Each week, we will discuss short stories from contemporary writers, focusing on a different aspect of  narrative in every conversation. You will turn in at least one short story during the term to be discussed carefully and generously by your peers in the workshop space. This story can be edited and submitted as your final assignment.

This class, formally comprising a 45-minute seminar followed by a 45-minute tutorial, forms the BA Professional Skills Module “Creative Writing: Envisioning America” (5 credits). More information on this module is available here.