Sophomore Seminars

Imagining Women: Writers in Print and in Person

Completion of PWR 1 or other WR 1 course.

This is a lively, interactive class enriched by the active participation of each student. The seminar is designed to introduce students to the lively world of contemporary literature through the reading of recent texts and through intimate conversations with the authors of fiction, poetry and literary memoir. The 2021 visiting authors are Camille Dungy, Aimee Phan, Samantha Rajaram, Natasha Yim, Cathy Arellano and Angie Chuang. We discuss the book in Monday's class and meet the writer in Wednesday's session. Each author will speak briefly about her book and her writing life. Then we will open the session to questions and discussions with the students. Students will make oral and written seminar presentations. The course will end with a focus on the students' projects as the "final texts." Students who will benefit most from the course are those who enter it with an enjoyment of literature and a curiosity about writing and gender and the diverse lives of contemporary women.

This course fulfills the second-level Writing and Rhetoric Requirement (WRITE 2) and will emphasize oral and written presentations. It also carries two WAYS accreditations, AESTHETIC AND INTERPRETIVE INQUIRY and ENGAGING DIVERSITY.


Class Time:  We’ll meet from 1:30PM–3:30PM Mondays and Wednesdays.

Class Lunch and Book Discussion: Students will meet for lunch with Professor during the third week of the class. To kick off the lunch conversation, each student will recommend a book by a woman author not being discussed in class. We’ll put together a bibliography of student recommendations.

Editorial Partnerships: Each student should choose one editorial partner in the class. You’ll be asked to share all your own written work with your partner every week during the term (by phone, Zoom, etc or, if safe, in person). Editorial partners will be particularly helpful with reading drafts of discussion papers, seminar presentations and term papers. Do have your editorial partner proofread your papers, especially your final one, before submission.

Essay Seminar Partnerships: Students will sign up to write a three-page paper about the writer/book of their choice. Typically, two people will work on the same writer/book and they will decide together which sections of the book and which aspects about the author they will cover. They will each introduce the author when she comes.

Sharing Student Work: In addition to regular exchanges with editorial partners, students will have a chance to share one essay seminar presentation with the whole class and two discussion papers with the whole class. All students will share their term projects with the whole class. We will end with three Editorial Boards during which each student will get feedback from everyone. These term projects are the highlight of the class and serve as the last class text.

Office Hours: Students are welcome to come in small groups or individually.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Valerie Miner

Valerie Miner is an award-winning author of 15 books. Her latest book, Bread and Salt, is coming out in Fall, 2020.  Her novels include, Traveling with Spirits After EdenRange of LightA Walking FireWinter's EdgeBlood SistersAll Good WomenMovement: A Novel in Stories, and Murder in the English Department. Her short fiction books include Abundant LightThe Night Singers, and Trespassing. Her collection of essays is Rumors from the Cauldron: Selected Essays, Reviews and ReportageThe Low Road: A Scottish Family Memoir was a Finalist for the PEN USA Creative Non-Fiction Award. Abundant Light was a fiction finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards.

Valerie Miner's work has appeared in The Georgia ReviewTriquarterlySalmagundiNew LettersPloughsharesThe Village VoicePrairie SchoonerGettysburg ReviewThe T.L.S.The Women's Review of BooksThe Nation, and other journals. Her stories and essays are published in more than 60 anthologies. A number of her pieces have been dramatized on BBC Radio 4. Her work has been translated into German, Turkish, Danish, Italian, Spanish, French, Swedish, and Dutch. In addition to single-authored projects, she has collaborated on books and museum exhibits, as well as theatre.

She has won fellowships and awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, Fondazione Bogliasco, Fundación Valparaiso, the McKnight Foundation, the NEA, the Jerome Foundation, the Heinz Foundation, the Australia Council Literary Arts Board, and numerous other sources. She has received Fulbright Fellowships to India, Tunisia, Indonesia, and Spain.

Winner of a Distinguished Teaching Award, she has taught for over 25 years and is now a professor and artist-in-residence at Stanford University. She travels internationally giving readings, lectures, and workshops. She and her partner live in San Francisco and Mendocino County, Calif. Her website is