Online | Fiction | Nonfiction | Reading Group

4 Weeks of Reading New Queer & Trans Lit as Writers

In this eight-week, four-session class, participants will read and discuss a vibrant selection of queer and trans literature from the last few years, our conversations feeding into short exercises.

Texts will include:

- Carmen Maria Machado, In the Dream House

- Brontez Purnell, 100 Boyfriends

- K-Ming Chang, Bestiary

- Torrey Peters, Detransition, Baby

This set of texts is small and carefully chosen to bring us into conversation with a broader LGBTQ+ literary heritage, while giving us opportunities and avenues to think about and experiment with genre, form, and voice. One of our primary concerns will be thinking through the ways in which queer and trans writers are writing into and alongside of inherited archives, traditions, and genres.

From Machado’s illusory Dream House to Purnell’s candid index of queer sex encounters; from Chang’s speculative history of migration to Peters’s trans-centered work of domestic fiction: these books showcase some of the many inventive ways in which queer and trans writers are writing into literature’s gaps and fissures, expanding archives, and creating new traditions. They demonstrate narrative’s capacity to bind together the historical and the speculative, the real and the fantastic; to reorient genres, flip scripts, and dream different lives—and they give us new models for storytelling as they do so.

As we explore these books’ narrative strategies, we will ask how we can use them ourselves to express the range and complexity of LGBTQ+ experience—particularly in relation to desire, intimacy, and fantasy; changing bodies and changing selves; the communities we wish to capture, and the stories we hope to leave behind.

We will spend each class period discussing one book, followed by short craft exercises that students will be invited to revise on their own, building towards a longer writer project that participants can then share with the instructor for feedback during an optional extra one-on-one conference after the final class. Participants are expected to have read In the Dream House before the first session.

Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.

Note: Any ‘Reading...as Writers’ student can opt in to a 45-minute consultation with the instructor for an additional fee of $105, in which you receive one-on-one feedback on any writing that emerged from the course, including ideas for revision and specific line edits. Email [email protected] after your final group meeting to arrange a consultation.

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- Greater familiarity with contemporary LGBTQ+ literature

- Examinations of four different authors’ writing techniques and what they can teach us about our own writing

- Illuminating discussions of the relationship between craft choices and queer and trans experience and politics

- A supportive environment for exploring new literary possibilities, particularly with regard to aestheticizing nonnormative genders, sexualities, intimacies, and desires

- Personal feedback from the instructor on your writing project during optional one-on-one consultations

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

- Participants must have access to the four assigned books

- Participants are expected to have read In the Dream House before the first session begins

- Each session will focus on one book; participants are expected to have read the book before the session begins

- Students are expected to attempt to do the writing exercises offered at the end of each session

Megan Milks

Megan Milks is the author of Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body and Slug and Other Stories, a revised and updated second edition of their award-winning first book Kill Marguerite and Other Stories, both forthcoming from Feminist Press. Their book Tori Amos Bootleg Webring, the second installment of Instar Books' new Remember the Internet series, is also forthcoming this fall. They teach writing and gender studies in New York.

Testimonials

“MARGARET AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING BODY, a thrilling and surprising crystallization of the best and worst parts of growing up in the nineties, lit up all of the pleasure receptors in my brain. It’s intimate, fearless, and a funhouse of form and style. Megan Milks is a supremely generous writer whose work is daring and alive.”

Patrick Cottrell author of SORRY TO DISRUPT THE PEACE

“What if all those nineties book series about girlhood had been truly honest about the process of growing up? You’d get this wonderful book: a comforting facade that opens into an entrancing and wildly innovative gut-renovation of the genre, with an interior that lays bare the hidden workings of life I wish I’d known on my own first run through adolescence. Brilliant.”

Torrey Peters author of DETRANSITION, BABY

“MARGARET AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING BODY is queer dynamite. I devoured this book in one sitting, completely engrossed by the wild plot and by Megan Milks’s stellar, singular voice. This is a book of bodies, sure, but it’s also a book about the messiness of them, their complications and intractability, their frustrating unknowability. Their mutability. Their wonder. This novel is a bright spot of brilliance. I absolutely adored it.”

Kristen Arnett author of MOSTLY DEAD THINGS

"I was very happy with my experience in the class. The discussions were rich and I appreciated that everyone came from different backgrounds / professions, outside of having a writing practice, which added to the ranging thoughts in the discussion. Megan was thoughtful, kind, and extremely informed in leading the discussions, and took everyone's points seriously, digging deeper into what each of us was saying. This was my first time taking a class like this, and it gave me new skills in being an attentive and inquisitive reader."

former student

“The best teacher I have had in my educational experience. I can truly walk away from the class saying I have actually learned something. My writing has improved and so has my ability to think critically. It is all thanks to the intelligence and constructive criticism of the professor and how perfectly structured the class was.”

former student

“Amazing at organizing and igniting discussions. I don't have enough words to describe how amazing this class and professor were!”

former student

"Megan did a fantastic job contextualizing our reading each week, and led smart and focused discussions that centered the students' interpretations of the work. The writing prompts they created for the class were not only evocative, but led to deeper engagement with the selected reading as well. I felt I learned more in two months than I did in several college-level English courses!"

former student

“Megan made the class environment a place where we could ask questions, take risks, and have enjoyable conversations. They gave in-depth feedback and seemed invested in my growth as a student. Thank you for making this class a fantastic experience.”

former student

“Megan Milks is the most interesting prose writer working today. There! I said it. Milks smashes fiction and glues the shards back together. Milks destroys boredom! Milks stans fanfic, retells the New Narrative, lights a million candles at the altar of queer & trans experimental literature, sends love letters to Kathy Acker and Samuel R. Delany and Ovid, hate-reads Sweet Valley High in the sexiest and most disturbing ways. You will never look at Tegan and Sara—or slugs, or tomatoes—in the same way again.”

Andrea Lawlor author of PAUL TAKES THE FORM OF A MORTAL GIRL