Electric Bodies: An Introduction to Form and Craft

Course Description

As an introduction to fiction and poetry, Electric Bodies will bring aspiring young writers at a high school level together from Moscow, Russia, Smolensk, Russia, and Des Moines, Iowa to write, share, and discuss their writing with one another through online video and forum.

Thinking about embodiment is crucial for writers. Dramatists, when they think about stage blocking, have to consider how a body moves through the world. Fiction writers must also think about blocking as well as action (performed by bodies) and description (of bodies). Writers of science fiction must question what a living body is or can do as they seek to bring extraterrestrial or robotic characters to life. Poets must also consider the body of the speaking subject: What body speaks the "I" of the poem? What body does the "you" of a poem call forth? This course will explore these necessary questions and more.

The primary course content will be provided through prerecorded video talks given by successful authors. In these talks, authors offer writing tips to the students. The course instructors will lead online conversations with the students about the videos and provide writing assignments.

The students will be invited to write creative pieces, and then to share and critique those pieces with their fellow students, in an international discussion community on a private course discussion forum. The students are able to discuss the class topics and their writing with one another and the instructors 24 hours a day in the forum. The course will run from November 12, 2014 to December 16, 2014.


Mary HICKMAN is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she received an Iowa Arts Fellowship. Her poems have been published in Boston Review, Colorado Review, jubilat, the PEN American Poetry Series, and elsewhere. She is the author of This Is the Homeland (Ahsahta Press, 2015) and teaches creative writing at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Van CHOOJITAROM is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He attended the University of Chicago and subsequently resided in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. He currently teaches fiction writing, with a concentration on science fiction and fantasy, at the University of Iowa.

Happening Now

  • To mark PEN International’s centennial, Words Without Borders has published a sampler of works by writers committed to freedom of expression. Algerian novelist and scholar Med MAGANI is among them.

  • A fall harvest of book reviews coming in: of The Others by Sarah BLAU (translated from the Hebrew by Daniella Zamir); of LO Yi-Chin’s Farewell, translated from the Chinese by Jeremy TIANG; of Véronique TADJO’s In the Company of Men

  • A fascinating interview with IWP’s Senior Advisor, professor Peter Nazareth, retired from UI’s English Department in spring 2021, after nearly five decades of teaching.

  • Word reaches us that poet HU Xudong  胡续冬, who also taught comparative and world literatures at Peking University (Beida), specializing in Latin American literatures, passed away unexpectedly. RIP, Hu Xudong…

  • We note with sadness the passing of Hiroshi SAKAGAMI 坂上 弘, whose long novelistic career garnered him major literary and cultural honors. A former president of the Japan Writers’ Association, he was until his retirement also the director of Keio University Press.

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