AmyLetter       

Assistant Professor of Fiction and New Media, Drake University

Fall 2011 - Present

 

 

Degrees

 

M.F.A. (60 hours) – Creative Writing, Fiction

University of Arkansas 2004                                             

 

B.A. – English, Writing and Rhetoric

Florida Atlantic University 2000

 

 

Previous University Positions

Instructor of English, Florida Atlantic University (2005-2011)

Graduate Instructor of English, University of Arkansas (2000-2003)

 


 

Courses Taught at Drake*

Fall 2011 to Fall 2016:

 

FYS 007                  First Year Seminar - Creative Writing: Adaptations (2011, 2012, 2013)

FYS 016                  First Year Seminar - Story: the Art and Science (2015)

FYS xxx                  First Year Seminar - Disneyfication (2016)

ENG 030               Reading Popular Fiction (2012)

ENG 061               Writing Seminar (2013)

ENG 080               Reading and Creating Comics (2015, 2016)

ENG 080               Reading and Writing Flash Fiction (2016)

ENG 092               Reading and Writing the Short Story (9 sections: 2011-present)

ENG 113               Cross-Genre Workshop (2013, 2016)

ENG 115               Fiction Workshop (2012, 2013)

ENG 117               Adaptations and Transformations (2016)

ENG 127               Creative Writing for New Media (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015)

ENG 196               Capstone in Writing: Writing Novel Adaptations (2015)

 

*Course descriptions provided in final section


 

Publications

 

1. New Media / Visual / Experimental / Cross-Genre

 

Punnett,” and “Art,” in Yew Journal, January 2013

 

“Blue Alyssa and the Sad Gray Crab” in PANK, February 2012

Short Story accompanied by audio file and “ask the author” blog interview (May 7, 2012)

 

“Ladies Represent: Amy Letter” on We Who Are About to Die, April 13, 2012 (capture via archive.org)

 

“Diethel Phthalate” in Methods of Being, Number 8

 

“Universal Translator” in The Rumpus, 2011 National Poetry Month Project, Day 10 (also included as part of the Sound Art show at the 18 Rabbit Gallery, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, January 29-February 26, 2011)

 

Collaborative Fiction: “Pushcorpse” in No Colony, #3 (with 64 other authors), 2010

 

“Gone in 30 Seconds” script, video / DVD released by MoveOn.org in 2004

 

                 

2. Short Fiction

 

“Sound Space” in Louisiana Literature, Volume 33, Number 2, 2016

 

“The Lighted Globes” in Gigantic Worlds Science Flash Fiction Anthology, Eds. Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto, Gigantic Books 2015

 

“The Founders of the Illustrious City” in Puerto Del Sol, Fall 2012

 

“Madison in Dreams” in Louisiana Literature, Volume 26, Number 1, Spring/Summer 2009

 

“Gator Girl” in Fringe Magazine, Special Environment Issue, March 2009 (capture via archive.org)

 

“Tempting Frances” in Quarterly West, Number 67, Fall/Winter 2008/9

 

“All’s Fair” in Cutthroat, Vol 5, 1, Summer 2008

 

“Invidia” in SPECS, Vol 1, 1, 2008 (print)

 

“On Earth” autobiographical story in Relief, Vol 2, 3, July 2008 (print)

 

“The Last Days of Princess” in Louisiana Literature, Vol 25, 1, Spring/Summer 2008 (print)

 

“Venus Envy” in Fringe Magazine, Issue 13, December 2007 (capture via archive.org)

 

“The First Christmas” in Electric Yeti, Special Holiday Issue, Winter 2005 (print)

 

“June Bug” in Electric Yeti, Summer 2005

 

“Clara Belby: Last Tale of the Barefoot Mailman” in Scrivener’s Pen, Vol 5, 3, 2005 (capture via archive.org)

 

“Ceramic Buck” in Louisiana Literature, Vol 19, 2, Fall/Winter 2002 (print)

 

 

3. Nonfiction: Book Chapters


“Teaching Creative Writing for New Media” chapter in Creative Writing in the Digital Age. Eds. Clark, Hergenrader, & Rein, Bloomsbury Books 2014; US Release: March 24, 2015

 

“Other Talents: ‘Doing Creative Writing’” a chapter in Teaching Creative Writing Ed. Elaine Walker, Creative Writing Studies/The Professional and Higher Partnership, 2012

 

 

4. Nonfiction: Reviews, interviews, and other essays

 

Review: Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher, The Rumpus, September 25, 2014

 

Review: Gruesome Spectacles by Austin Sarat, The Rumpus, May 2, 2014

Review: The Isle of Youth by Laura Ven Den Berg, The Rumpus, December 17, 2013

 

“Escaping Isn’t What it Used to Be: Review of Ana Menendez’s Adios, Happy Homeland!,” Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, Fall          2012

                                                     

Interview with Ana Menendez, in The Rumpus, August 2011

- Reprinted as “An Interview with Ana Menendez by Amy Letter” in the Harper Collins “PS” section of the paperback edition of Menendez’s The Last War, June 2010 (print)

 

“The Scarlet ‘SW’ for Sex Worker” (Front Page Feature) The Rumpus, September 2010

 

“Oh So Furry: The Rumpus Interview with Kilcodo” (Front Page Feature) The Rumpus, July 2010

 

“The Story Behind the Furry” essay in The Rumpus, July 2010

 

“The Exile and the Nomad are Cousins” review of The Last War and interview with author Ana Menendez (Front Page Feature) The Rumpus, May 2009

 

 


 

5. Professional Writing

 

Paid blog-writing; these short essays were created in negotiation with a paid editor and in consultation with a medical PR department for Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital website, on parenting multiples; six essays contracted and delivered:

 

Finding Out You’re Having Multiples         – published 3.10.15

The Whys of Multiples                                        – published 3.24.15

Overwhelmed as a Mom of Multiples         – published 4.13.15

Postpartum Depression in Men                       - forthcoming

Do I have to buy two, for two?                       - forthcoming

It gets harder, and easier, too                           - forthcoming

 

 

6. Poetry

 

*comes,” in Yew Journal, January 2013

 

“The Floralia” (a five poem series) in Center, Vol 8, 2009 (print)

 

“The Biggest Jazz Funeral in History” in Story South (also included in 8 year anniversary “Best Of”)

 

“Destination” in Perigee Vol 3, 2

 

 

 

 

 

 


Drake Committees and Advising

 

Chair, Writers & Critics Committee, 2013-2015

 

Member, Center for the Humanities Board of Directors, 2014-17 (3 year term)

 

Member, Center for the Humanities Board of Directors, 2013-14 (1 year replacement)

 

Member, A&S Technology Committee, 2013-present

 

Faculty Advisor to Creative Writing Club, 2011-2014

 

Member, Strategic Planning TIG 1-5 (the “Teaching TIG”), Summer & Fall 2013

 

Drake English Facebook Administrator, 2012-ongoing

 

Co-Chair, Writers & Critics Committee, 2012-2013

 

Faculty Advisor to Periphery, 2012-2013

 

Member, Changing Pedagogies Working Group, Summer-Fall 2012

 

Member, Writers & Critics Committee, 2011-2012

 

 

 


 

Service to Profession, Writing & the Arts

 

Co-section Editor for Journal of Creative Writing Studies (the journal of the newly established Creative Writing Studies Organization); Professionalization and Labor section (2015-present)

 

Digital / Electronic / New Media Literature Editor, The Rumpus (2013-present)

 

Program Committee Member, Conference of the Electronic Literature Organization, 2014

 

Judge Manager/Organizer of Student Judging, Drake Emerging Writer Contest (First Novel), Drake University, 2014

 

Judge Manager / Organizer of Student Judging, Drake Emerging Writer Contest (First Novel), Drake University, 2014

 

Judge Manager/Organizer of Student Judging, Drake Emerging Writer Contest (First Graphic Narrative), Drake University, 2013

 

Judge Manager/Organizer of Student Judging, Drake Emerging Writer Contest (First Book of Poetry), Drake University, 2012

 

eBook Design for The Rumpus Original Poetry Anthology Ed. Brian Spears, Rumpus Books 2012

 

Judge, Baucum-Fulkerson student award, MFA program University of Arkansas, Spring 2012

 

Cover Design for A Witness in Exile by Brian Spears, Louisiana Literature Press 2011

 

Judge, Short Fiction Contest, Regional Competition: National Society of Arts and Letters, 2010

 

Judge, Flash Fiction Contest, in honor of the National Day on Writing, Sponsored by the University Center for Excellence in Writing, Florida Atlantic University, 2010

 

 


 

Public Readings/Exhibitions/Panels/Etc.

 

RTFM, presentation of work-in-progress created while Aritst-in-Residence at the Media Archaeology Lab, Counterpath, Denver, Colorado, November 30, 2014

 

Conference of the Associated Writing Programs (AWP) panel “Brave New Media: The Promises and Pitfalls of Teaching Creative Writing for Digital Environments,” March 1, 2014

 

“This is not my project, or, How I learned to stop worrying and looove my plans getting shot to hell,” half-hour talk and demonstration of project-in-progress, Banff Centre, Banff, Canada, February 21, 2013

 

Conference of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts; reading sponsored by the Electronic Literature Organization, performance of excerpt from “The Singing Ape (Life in Pink)” with associated media program; September 29, 2012. Video here (“The Singing Ape” starts at about ~40 minutes)

 

Symposium on Science, Technology, and the Humanities, with Mark Vitha and Martin Roth, Sponsored by the Center for the Humanities, Drake University, March 30, 2012

 

Writers and Critics Series, Cowles Library Reading Room, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa: “Blue Alyssa and the Sad Gray Crab” October 26, 2011

 

Sound Art at the 18 Rabbit Gallery, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, January 29-February 26, 2011: “Universal Translator” (video installation)

 

Focus the Nation: The Environment, poetry reading, Broward College Library, Davie, Florida: “Hope (forgive me),” “The Ones I Love, and Texas,” “Florida 2050,” “The Biggest Jazz Funeral in History” 2008

 

Below Sea Level Conference, Saint Augustine, Florida: “The Last Days of Princess” 2008

 

Public Reading for New Faculty, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida: “Anchor and Hope” 2006

 

University of the Ozarks, Clarksville, Arkansas, “All’s Fair” 2001

 

 

Residencies

 

Artist-in-Residence, Media Archaeology Lab at the University of Colorado, Boulder, November 19 to December 3, 2014

 

In(ter)ventions at Banff Centre. Residency in digital, interactive, and visual literature, studying with Joe Amato, J.R. Carpenter, and Fred Wah; additional lectures by Johanna Drucker and Lori Emerson. Banff, Canada, February 10 to 24, 2013


 

Awards/Honors

 

Green Course Development Grant for Reading and Creating Comics, through the Drake University Center for the Humanities, Summer 2014

 

Faculty Development Grant from the Drake University College of Arts and Sciences to support residency at the Media Archaeology Lab, Fall 2014

 

Grant from the Banff Centre to attend In(ter)ventions, February 10-24, 2013

 

Faculty Development Grant, from the Drake University College of Arts and Sciences, to attend In(ter)ventions at the Banff Centre, 2013

 

Grant from the Drake University Center for the Humanities to attend In(ter)ventions at the Banff Centre, 2013

 

Milton J. and Joanne Brown Endowed English Faculty Fund, used to attend the conference of the New Media Consortium and the In(ter)ventions residency at Banff

 

Faculty Development Grant, from the Drake University College of Arts and Sciences, to attend the conference of the New Media Consortium, 2012

 

Florida Division of Cultural Affairs Grant (funded by NEA) to attend Creative Capital Weekend Professional Development Workshop 2010

 

Story South “Best Of” for poem, “The Biggest Jazz Funeral in History” 2008

 

Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Award for poem, “Hope (forgive me)” 2005

 

Nominee, AWP Intro Journals Project for poem, “Sunday Afternoon at the Coin Laundry” 2004

 

Finalist, MoveOn.Org Bush in 30 Seconds Contest, for “Gone in 30 Seconds” 2004

 

Lily Peter Fellowship in Fiction for the short story, “Venus Envy” 2002

 

Honorable mentions, Lily Peter Fellowship in Poetry 2001, 2002

 

Doctoral Academy Fellowship, University of Arkansas 2000-2004

 

Graduation magna cum laude, Florida Atlantic University, 2000


 

Detailed Course Descriptions

 

 

FYS 007                  First Year Seminar - Creative Writing: Adaptations (2011, 2012, 2013)

 

We will imagine our way to better understandings of existing stories and characters by re-positioning them in new genres and media: we might write the diary of a character who currently exists only in a movie; we might write a short story from the point of view of a minor character from one of Shakespeare's plays; we might write a screen or stage play starring characters who have only appeared in songs.

We will examine how creative people have struggled with the idea and task of adaptation (and the related task of translation) in the past, and how the act of adapting can both illuminate and obfuscate (and possibly obliterate) the original subject. We will look at Charlie Kaufman's film Adaptation, a performance of The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged), and compare short selections from several adaptations to see how work has moved from graphic novel to film, from television to short story, from concept album to stage play, etc.

We will also use adaptation to examine genre and media itself: what are the strengths (and weaknesses) of the different forms? What can a short story do that a film can't? What can a poem do that a play can't? What choices are we making when we choose a form? How do we re-see characters and situations when re re-imagine them in different forms?

Students will have the opportunity to locate material in the literary and media world(s) and bring in sources of their own choosing. Students will be encouraged to use their other talents and awareness of other media formats to expand the scope of the class.

Writing for this course will be made up of a combination of creative work (in multiple forms) and analysis (both of other students' work and of the ideas and works of published authors).


FYS 016                  First Year Seminar - Story: the Art and Science (2015)

 

                                    What does your brain do when you’re hearing a story? What catches audiences’ attention in a story, and why? Can stories be organized into taxonomies, and understood to have lineages, evolutionary family trees? What makes one character come alive in readers’ imaginations while another is forgotten? Why did fictional storytelling evolve in the first place?

                           In this course we will read, watch, and listen to STORIES presented across media and genres, from the ancient world to the present-day. We will analyze these stories as both works of art and as living specimens, coming to both appreciate and understand their construction, as well as our own and others’ reactions to them, with the ultimate goal of better understanding how stories “work.”

                           We will read essays by authors who self-analyze, offering philosophies of composition, ars poeticae, and rules of the craft; essays by scientists who have studied the human brain and behavior in response to story; essays by scholars of folklore who have tracked down the evolutionary history of individual stories; and theorists struggling with the very existence of fiction in human culture.

                           Finally we will respond to what we’ve learned with essays and stories of our own. The stories we create may take one of several forms — essays, videos, songs, poems, plays, comics, fairy tales — but in any case what we write will be stories carefully crafted using the vital information and principles that we’ve learned.

 

 


 

FYS xxx                  First Year Seminar - Disneyfication (2016)

 

                           We will examine stories adapted by the Walt Disney corporation, closely reading the previous ("original") versions and closely viewing the Disney versions, analyzing not only the particular choices made in each case, but the approach to adaptation taken over the years by this cultural powerhouse.

 

                           Readings/viewings may include Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid," Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, histories of Pocahontas and the legend of Mulan, among other possibilities. Readings will also include selected essays on Adaptation theory and on the Disney corporation as a cultural force.

 

Students will be asked to analyze particular adaptations, develop a working theory of the "Disneyfication" of texts, and create a final video essay which combines particular analysis with larger theory.


 

ENG 030               Genre: Forms- Popular Fiction (2012)

 

For this course we will read a selection of 8-10 books of fiction considered “popular” in different ways and at different times, especially focusing on the variety of forms to be found in modern-to-contemporary writing. Our scope will include experimental narrative structures, metafiction, graphic novels, and use of genre in “literary” works. We will analyze texts (and sometimes images) to discover how they work and what they are best designed to accomplish. We will address the question, why do we think this is, or was, popular? We will also self-examine our reactions to what we read, and advocate our interpretations in person and in presentation, as well as in writing.


 

ENG 061               Writing Seminar (2013)

 

This reading- and writing- intensive course will focus on style, form, and genre: how the mode of writing and shape of the text influence what the work says and how it says it. Students will compare texts with similar subjects and arguments but different styles, forms, and genres (poem, essay, short story, etc.). Students can also expect some examination of how the author’s environment and habits of mind affect his or her writing, and look forward to reading many texts that speak to the practice of writing itself.

In this course students are expected to read closely and write significantly every week. Students should be prepared to read across genres, including experimental forms, and analyze texts from the very modern to the very ancient. Students should also be prepared to produce writing in a variety of modes, including analytical, argumentative, and/or expressive, in multiple forms and genres.


 

ENG 080               Reading and Creating Comics (2015, 2016)

 

Catalogue Description (proposed): This course will allow students to explore comics as literature, art, and design, and to create comics of their own. Readings may include Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics; Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home; selections from online comics including The Oatmeal, xkcd, and Existential Comics; as well as essays and theoretical readings that consider comics as both visual and literary art. Students in this course will create approximately 8 pages of comics, write several responses and essays that engage with readings and reflect on individual practice, and will engage in frequent drawing and writing exercises. The course will culminate in a polished comic of at least five pages. Course requires no prior experience in drawing. No prerequisite. Satisfies AOI in written communication.

 


 

ENG 080               Reading and Writing Flash Fiction (2016)

 

This Online Summer Course will from July 5th to August 5th, 2016. During those four weeks, students will read 18 published works of flash fiction, write an analysis of 8 works of flash fiction, and compose 3 original works of flash fiction, one of which will undergo significant and transformative revision in the final week of class. Brief craft talks will be delivered by video; class discussion will take place through a text-based online forum; student work will be shared and discussed online as well, primarily using Google groups and related tools.

                                    ENG 092               Reading and Writing the Short Story (9 sections: 2011-present)

 

We will explore the contemporary short story, reading primarily from The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories (Ed. Ben Marcus) to discover the many different ways today’s writers have used – and re-imagined – the short story form.

 

This course will emphasize meaningful risk-taking in writing, maximizing the imaginative and/or unexpected in a way that fits the internal logic of a story, and writing in service to an ideal reader who wishes to be entertained, enlightened, and challenged. We will explore how fiction writers make the unfamiliar familiar and how they make us see with fresh eyes those things we thought we knew. Then we will attempt to do these things ourselves.

 

Students will experiment with a several shorter writing styles and will write two longer short stories. Students will write a number of short critiques, a self-analysis of revision in response to critique, and a detailed, explicative guide to the final short story.

 


 

ENG 113               Cross-Genre Workshop (2013, 2016)

 

                                    Catalogue Description: Students in this course will explore the possibilities for writing within and against traditional generic boundaries. Students read works situated within genres (essays, poetry, drama, and fiction), as well as experimental cross-genre works, to increase their understanding of genre (as a concept and as practics), of the changing historical construction of literary genres, and of the numerous possibilities for writing. Students write within each genre, then experiment with writing that complicates or breaks down the boundaries between them. This course requires frequent writing and revision. Prerequisites: one of the following: ENG 90, 91, 92, or 93 or instructor permission.

 

                           “Because you asked about the line between prose and poetry” (Nemerov), we will examine notable works whose form places them along that harder-to-define “gradient invisible” where generic traditions are less cleanly followed, or are melded, or defied, where the joy and meaning of the work is found, at least partly, in its structural experimentation. We will then take on the challenge ourselves and write original, formally-experimental creative works, gaining a deeper understanding of genre and form by pushing supposed limits and exposing the permeability of these categories.

                           To more effectively and meaningfully manipulate genre and form, students will learn about their histories, traditions, and categorical norms. Readings will include works by Italo Calvino and Anne Carson, among others. Assignments will put a high value on originality and experimentation.

 

 


 

ENG 115               Fiction Workshop (2012, 2013)

 

Students in this reading- and writing- intensive course will hone their storytelling skills through a series of short writing challenges, and will write two fully developed short stories, taking them from conception to workshop and through an extensive revision. Students will read the stories of their classmates closely and write short critiques. Students will also write self-analyses of their revisions in response to critique.

 

This course will emphasize meaningful risk-taking in writing, maximizing the imaginative and/or unexpected in a way that fits the internal logic of a story, and writing in service to an ideal reader who wishes to be entertained, enlightened, and challenged. The class will focus particularly on the core qualities of contemporary narrative fiction.

 

In addition to reading the creative work of classmates, students will be asked to read and write about 4-5 collections of contemporary short stories.


 

ENG 117               Adaptations and Transformations (2016)

 

Catalogue Description: This reading, writing, and media-intensive course examines the theory and practice of adapting texts into new mediums, for new audiences, and asks essential questions about what defines a narrative in the face of radical transformations, how those transformations can reflect changes in culture and interpretation, and why certain elements of a text may be stable or unstable over time. Forms may include (but are not limited to): folk tales, literary fiction, staged performances, film, and video games. Students will both analyze the adaptations and transformations of others and also create original adaptations of their own. Frequent writing and revision.


 

ENG 127               Creative Writing for New Media (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015)

 

Catalogue Description: Students in this course will read and write works of literature (fiction, poetry, etc.) designed for digital and new media platforms, including work designed for the internet. We will study the history of OuLiPo, methods and meanings of text/image/sound integration/juxtaposition, and the literary uses of Hypertext and other digitally-integrated and multimodal forms. We will also explore the possibilities of non-linear literature, with a focus on the connection between narrative and game play.

 

Syllabus Description: This course will allow students to write creatively (fiction, poetry, hybrid forms, etc.) for digital formats. Projects may include (mis)using social media to create literary art, composing branching narratives, and use of kinetic text, among others. Students will be asked to work at the edge of their individual technological comfort zone, learning new skills even as they employ old ones. Most students will need a standard laptop computer with internet access which they can bring to every class meeting. Some projects will require paying for and downloading programs or subscribing to cloud-based services. This course is suited for students who have some experience with creative writing and who are comfortable as regular end-users of computers and other digital devices – a programming background is not necessary.

 

Course Goals and Objectives:

Students in this course will…

Š          Develop an understanding of what New Media Literature is, including the ambiguities surrounding that phrase.

Š          Appreciate the medium-message connection, and create work that displays a sensitivity to that connection.

Š          Write, design, and otherwise implement new literary creative works that use digital and new media platforms, multimedia enhancements, and/or interactive design elements.


 

ENG 196               Capstone in Writing: Writing Novel Adaptations (2015)

 

The word “novel” in our course title doesn’t refer to book-length fiction, it refers to the other definition of “novel” (provided here courtesy of Merriam-Webster’s website): “1: new and not resembling something formerly known or used 2: original or striking especially in conception or style.”

 

We will study at least five very original and “striking” adaptations [2001: A Space Odyssey, The Orchid Thief/Adaptation, Antigone/Antigonick, City of Glass (novel/graphic novel), and versions of Swan Lake], and you will examine these for insight into adaptation theory and practice in the abstract and also as it applies directly to your creative work.

 

We will also examine the work of at least two theorists of adaptation, Linda Hutcheon and Robert Stam. You will be encouraged to examine the work of additional theorists individually.

 

Weekly writing will be assigned; long term, your goal is to refine your weekly writing into a cohesive essay-exploration that represents your intellectual journey. This writing will be checked weekly, and the essay refinement graded at midterm and at finals.

 

Individually you will engage in a major creative project whose goal is to adapt an existing work of your choosing in a “novel” way.