Rachel DeWoskin

Rachel DeWoskin
Associate Professor of Practice in the Arts
Taft House 203
MA in Poetry, Boston University, 2000.
Research Interests: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, Dramatic Writing, East Asian Studies, Jewish Studies, Migration Stories

Genre

Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry

Synopsis

My work explores how human beings communicate across linguistic, cultural and national boundaries. I also use my writing and teaching to examine and cross boundaries in genre, perspective, and form. My courses are hybrids of close reading and writing labs, featuring work by writers like Baldwin, Bechdel, Carson, Coates, Danticat, Diaz, Ha Jin, Rankine, Sharma, and Wharton. We strategize about ways to import the most essential components of each genre into the others: the clarity and economy of poetry into fiction; the propulsion of fiction into poetry; and the research of good non-fiction into poetry and fiction. Student work offers an occasion on which to discuss craft.

Writing Profile

My two most recent novels Banshee and Someday We Will Fly were both published in 2019. In a starred review of Banshee, Kirkus writes “With X-ray-vision, empathy, and vivacity under fire, DeWoskin once again finds literary gold in painful circumstances.” In a starred review of Someday We Will Fly, Booklist writes: “DeWoskin, who has lived in China, has done meticulous research, but what stands out is her lyrical, sensitive portrayal of families struggling to survive during wartime, and the heartbreaking uncertainty that comes from families being separated.” I am currently at work adapting Bansheefor a feature film starring Ally Sheedy. I work across genres, and my poetry collection, Two Menus, is forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press in April, 2020; my novel, Blind, was published by Penguin in 2014;Big Girl Small by FSG in 2011; and my debut novel, Repeat After Mein 2009 by The Overlook Press. My memoir, Foreign Babes in Beijing (WW Norton, 2005), about the years I spent in China as the unlikely star of a Chinese soap opera, has been published in six countries, optioned by Paramount, HBO and the Sundance Channel, and developed at BBC America, where I co-wrote a television pilot based on the book. I have written essays, articles, and/or book reviews for The New YorkerVanity FairThe Sunday Times Magazine of LondonTeachers and WritersThe Women’s Review of BooksThe Asian Wall Street Journal, and numerous anthologies. My poems and translations have been published in journals and collections including AgniPloughsharesSeneca ReviewNew Delta ReviewThe New Orleans Review, and The Helen Burns Poetry Anthology: New Voices from the Academy of American Poets.

Work with Students

I have advised dozens of undergraduate and graduate thesis projects in fiction, including short story collections, chapters from historical novels, and sometimes full-length novels: southern gothics, literary thrillers, and character-driven, quiet, lyrical works of fiction. I also advise dramatic writing projects, including screen plays, television pilots, and stage plays. My advisees often complete outlines and chapter breakdowns so that they’ll have the tools to continue work on their projects after they've turned in their theses and completed their degrees.

Teaching

I teach advanced workshops in constructing full-length novels; narrating migrataion stories; understanding and thwarting genre conventions; and creating characters in conflict with each other and their worlds. I also teach the seminar “Not Your Native Language,” which focuses on questions of displacement and migration in fiction, and in which we investigate the impact of  proximity to and distance from our “native” languages. We explore what “mother tongue” means, by reading works in translation; works written in English by authors whose first languages are not English; and works about the origins of language and myth. I teach core classes including “Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty,” in which students examine the relationship between truth and beauty in poetry, prose, and film. Finally, I teach fundamentals in creative writing courses on literary empathy. In all of my technical seminars, fundamentals classes, and workshops, we consider the connections between “factual” truth, artistic, and human truth - by way of a conversation about both published writing and student work.

Selected Publications

  • DeWoskin, Rachel. Someday We Will Fly. New York City: Viking Penguin, 2019.
  • DeWoskin, Rachel. Banshee. New York City: Dottir Press, 2019.
  • DeWoskin, Rachel. Blind. New York City: Viking Penguin2014.
  • DeWoskin, Rachel. Big Girl Small. New York City: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2011.
  • DeWoskin, Rachel. Repeat After Me, New York City: The Overlook Press, 2009.
  • DeWoskin, Rachel. Foreign Babes in Beijing, New York City: W.W. Norton, 2005.
Subject Area: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry