All lectures will be in the Region Room of Blue Ridge Center at Blue Ridge Assembly; 84 Blue Ridge Circle; Black Mountain, NC 28711.

9:00 AM

LESLEY NNEKA ARIMAH ~ The Breadth and Purpose of Speculative Fiction

Speculative fiction has often gotten the short end of the stick in serious literary study even as well-respected works of fiction—both contemporary and classic—teem with characters and scenarios that are ostensibly out of this world. This lecture considers the full breadth of speculative literature (it is more than spaceships and dragons—not that there’s anything wrong with that) and posits a distinct and important literary purpose speculative fiction fulfills that realistic fiction does not.

10:15 AM                                                         

JASON SCHNEIDERMAN ~ How a Sonnet Turns: From a Fold to a Helix            

Most of us are taught to think of the sonnet as having a two-part structure, built around a turn, or in Italian, the volta. The introduction of the divided self enacted through the sonnet is often seen as the beginning of our own modern period, and coincides with the first English language poems composed for the spoken voice. And yet that folding motion at the turn is only part of the story. In considering sonnets from a variety of time periods, I will argue that the sonnet’s motion doesn’t turn just once, but rather forms a spiral that carries the reader through. Picking up from Nabokov’s idea of the Pushkin sonnet as a spinning top, I will trace multiple craft concerns through the sonnets, including syntax, lineation, sound, and rhythm. The sonnet’s compression has made it a perfect vehicle for exploring internal conflict, and this lecture will open up onto ways that the sonnet might usefully rethink the turn as a spiraling, rather than hinging, motion. No prior reading required. 

11:30 AM

LAUREN GROFF ~ The Anxiety of the Influence of The Anxiety of Influence

The literary critic Harold Bloom (RIP, 2019) was most famous for his 1973 book Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry, in which he argues that artists struggle Oedipally against their precursors; he goes on to frame his argument with a lot of Freudian jargon. This lecture (not unironically) will take a look at the assumptions underlying Bloom’s theory, will draw on the examples of writers like Anne Carson and Mat Johnson to offer an alternative vision of an artist’s attitude to her precursors. 

Readings will begin at 8:15 PM in the Region Room of Blue Ridge Center at Blue Ridge Assembly.           


Sonja Johanson

Steve Lane

Hannah Markos

The public is welcome to attend the morning lectures and evening readings in fiction and poetry offered during the Master of Fine Arts Program winter residency.  Events last approximately one hour. Admission is free. The schedule is subject to change. PLEASE NOTE: The winter residency will be held at Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, NC, not on the Warren Wilson College campus. 

For more information, call the MFA Office: (828) 771-3715