Sarah Einstein is the author of Mot: A Memoir (University of Georgia Press 2015), Remnants of Passion (Shebooks 2014). Her essays and short stories have appeared in The Sun, Ninth Letter, PANK and other journals. Her work has been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Best of the Net, and the AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction. She is also the prose editor for Stirring: A Literary Collective and the special projects editor for Brevity Magazine.
Research and/or Creative Interests: Writing Pedagogy, Digital Rhetorics/Humanities Disability Studies
Teaching Interests: Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, Digital Rhetorics/Humanities Disability Studies, Writing Across Media Publishing Studies
I believe that the classroom has to be a place of experimentation, and that student writers must be able to take risks in order to develop the skills the class offers. For this reason, in the creative writing classroom, students are graded on doing the work, rather than on the success of the work that they do.
Why did you become an English professor?
Because I love writing, particularly other people's writing. I mean, my job is to read... what's not to love about that?
There is a debate about whether or not writing can be "taught," and this puzzles me. Nobody would tell a promising young pianist to go sit alone in a room and practice for 810 years, then expect that pianist to come out and win a Van Cliburn. Writing is like this. It takes certain innate abilities (an ear for language, a sense of timing, and most importantly the ability to confront the shortcomings in one's own work and a willingness to do the hard work of fixing them), but it also requires a deep knowledge of the ways words, sentences, paragraphs, and whole pieces work. And that latter part not only can, but it must be, taught.
Outside of being a professor, what do you do for fun and/or relaxation?
I'm a huge nerd. I play video games. I cook. I binge watch nerdy things on Netflix. I sometimes go to board game night. Really. Huge, huge nerd.
What are your expectations of students?
I expect students to attend regularly, be engaged in the workshop process, bring their best work to share in workshop, and to be good classroom citizens. The writing classroom is a collective, and it only works when we all do our part.
What's something about you that might surprise your students?
When I was a college student, I lived in a tipi on a commune in rural West Virginia. Okay, that may not surprise them that much. I probably seem exactly like the sort of person who used to live in a tipi on a commune.