Writing Across Cultures: Taking an Imaginative Leap of Empathy
Can I write about that? The question of cultural appropriation is a complicated one, and so too its answers. In this discussion class, we’ll examine strategies for researching and portraying lives unlike our own, that reflect social and historical context and the fullness of a character’s humanity. We'll work on writing exercises and discuss texts by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Toni Morrison, Elaine Castillo, among others, along with Hua’s own interviews with authors who write responsibly and respectfully across race, age, gender, class, and other elements of identity.
Vanessa Hua is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the author of a short story collection, Deceit and Other Possibilities, and the novel, A River of Stars, which O, The Oprah Magazine calls "a marvel" and The Economist says is "delightful." For two decades, she has been writing, in journalism and in fiction, about Asia and the Asian diaspora. She has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award, and a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing, as well as honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Asian American Journalists Association. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post. She works and teaches at the San Francisco Writers' Grotto.