Sophomore Seminars

Imaginative Realms: Writing Beyond Realism


What makes a compelling literary universe? How can a story that challenges the boundaries of reality have contemporary social significance? In this creative writing workshop we will explore imagined universes in fiction and poetry. Drawing on contemporary and historical texts, including ghost stories and the spirit world, magical realism, robots and artificial intelligence, and utopias and dystopias, we’ll seek to understand the tradition of writing that boldly goes beyond realism. Focusing on the writer's craft, we’ll explore the challenges unique to fantastical literature, including narrative authenticity, believable characterization, world-building, and human relevance. Reading as writers, we’ll examine the expectations of genre as we discover innovative ways to craft compelling stories and poems.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Keith Ekiss

"I'm a Jones Lecturer in the Creative Writing program and a former Wallace Stegner Fellow here at Stanford. I'm interested in investigating how fantastic stories, poems, and films capture our imaginations, and I'm looking forward to working with students who want to build their own imaginative worlds. As a writer, I'm the author of Pima Road Notebook, a book of poetry about growing up in the Arizona desert beside the Akimel O'odham reservation. I'm also the translator of two works by the Costa Rican writer Eunice Odio, Territory of Dawn: The Selected Poems of Eunice Odio and The Fire’s Journey, an epic poem in four volumes about the creation of the world."