Saturday, April 13
It's not hard to believe that we're heading towards a dystopian world, if we aren't living in one already; quite a few contemporary novels give this anxiety flesh (and bone, rubble, zombie hordes, and shiny-uniformed thugs). But of course dystopias have a history in literature, too, with its own conventions and expectations. In this one-day intensive class, we'll talk about how to write compellingly about the worst of all possible worlds, and formulate questions that open up new perspectives on what has become a familiar story, or set of stories, about what the future has in store for us. We'll talk about utopias, too, since most of them are fairly dystopian, and they illustrate the mechanics of the genre.
Paul La Farge is the author of four novels: The Night Ocean, The Artist of the Missing, Haussmann, or the Distinction, and Luminous Airplanes; and a book of imaginary dreams, The Facts of Winter. His stories and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Paris Review, Harper's, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Bard Fiction Prize, and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, and the American Academy in Berlin. He lives in upstate New York.