- Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and Poetry
- MFA in Writing
BiographyAn an award-winning essayist, novelist, poet, and the New York Times bestselling author of five books, MARYA HORNBACHER’s work has been published in more than 20 languages. Her first book, the memoir Wasted, appeared when she was 23, and was shortlisted for a Pulitzer Prize. Her internationally acclaimed novel The Center of Winter was called “masterful storytelling,” and was an Editor’s Pick in the New York Times and the L.A. Times. Hornbacher’s second memoir, Madness, was an immediate international bestseller; the New York Times wrote in its review of that book, “Hornbacher is a virtuoso writer.” Her sixth book, a work of literary journalism on science and the mind, is forthcoming in Spring 2019, and her seventh, a collection of essays on restlessness and solitude, will appear the following year. Hornbacher’s writing across genres appears regularly in literary and journalistic publications around the world; her critical and creative essays, poetry, and fiction have appeared and are forthcoming in the New York Times, AGNI, Gulf Coast, Fourth Genre, The Normal School, DIAGRAM, Broad Street, The Bellingham Review, and Vestoj. She has taught writing, jourrnalism, and literature at the college and graduate level for 25 years, primarily at the New College of California and Northwestern University. Her pedagogical and research interests include Shakespeare, modernism, Surrealism, American poets of the 20th century, cinematic and dramatic literature, and the intersection of creative writing and criticial theory. She was recently honored with the Annie Dillard Award in Creative Nonfiction, and is the grateful recipient of the 2018 Fountain House Humanitarian Award for her activis
"In this crackling, hyperkinetic historical moment, writers are tasked with creating the literatures that will bear witness, describe, question, confront, and finally function as the cultural artifacts—the collective memory, as slippery and flawed as all memory must be—of the 21st century. History morphs even as we attempt to wrestle with and write it down. I am acutely conscious of the urgency of today’s students’ stories—not only the stories of their individual lives, but their accounting and interrogation of a dynamic world, a world in a state of incessant change. I am aware that, as writing mentor, I must listen more closely to my students than ever before.
"My work across genres, as both a writer and mentor, is driven by a love of language and literature, certainly, but more so by a commitment to literary and cultural polyphony. It isn’t my wish to have a say in which stories matter or how they should be told. My wish is to help students gain fluency in the language best suited for the articulation of their vision, their perception of the worlds that they emerge from and create. My hope is that they will learn to listen for the sound of a voice, one that’s not quite familiar, and yet known in their bones—a singular voice that cuts through the internal and external Babel of world and mind—the voice they can recognize and claim as their own.
"As writers, we work in part by the accrual of wisdom from the traditions into and in which, between and against which we write. A deep knowledge of the intellectual and creative histories that precede and inform our work helps us navigate the new territory we want to explore. I concentrate on broadening emerging writers’ familiarity with unexpected, innovative, and thought-provoking literatures that require them to stretch creatively, intellectually, personally, and philosophically. I ask students to write harder, better, and more, with both greater freedom and greater deliberation, attending always to the fact that writing is both creation and craft.
"Writing is perhaps both an act of faith and an act of hubris, but it is also fundamentally an activist pursuit. As a writing mentor, I want my students to learn as much about the world into which they write as they learn about writing as a craft and professional path."