Open-Genre | Master Class

Open-Genre Master Class

Repetition as Philosophy, Voice, Structure

"Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose," famously wrote Gertrude Stein. Stein is just one of the many writers who employed repetition to myriad memorable effects in her writing. But is repetition simply repeating a word or phrase or a sentence or a structural element?

In our session, we will examine repetition as both a philosophical and craft approach. Our examination will include types of repetition including listing, recursion, and consecution. We will discuss the essential role that repetition plays in creating an eloquent voice, as well as how it can inform the structure and organization of what we write. We will read excerpts of writers whose work evidences some of the many ways repetition can be employed to achieve a kind of sublimity. We will also engage in writing exercises meant to assist you in exploring the key concepts and generating new material.

Mitchell S. Jackson

Mitchell S. Jackson‘s debut novel The Residue Years was praised by publications including The New York Times, The Paris Review, and The Times of London. Jackson is the winner of a Whiting Award. His novel also won The Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence and was a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Jackson’s honors include fellowships from TED, the Lannan Foundation, the BreadLoaf Conference, and the Center for Fiction.


"A raw heartwreck of a novel. One of the fictional families I have cared about most."

Amy Hempel author of THE DOG OF THE MARRIAGE

"A wrenchingly beautiful debut."

Jesmyn Ward author of MEN WE REAPED

"Jackson engages, challenges, clarifies the American language, claiming it, enlarging it."

John Edgar Wideman author of FANON

"I got a lot out of your Voice workshop, as I did out of your Revisioning talk, and I wanted to thank you again. I definitely hear my own narrative voice in my head, and it definitely has specific rhythms – sometimes a staccato, sometimes a soft shoe, but there’s always a beat. No one had ever phrased it to me like you did, to think of composing sentences by acoustics. But once you said it, it completely nested in my brain and I feel like something huge has come unlocked."

former student

"Powerful . . . full of impossible hope."

Roxane Gay author of BAD FEMINIST

"This autobiographical novel from a fresh new voice in fiction depicts the struggle of a black family trying to survive the crack epidemic in the whitest city in America."


"Beautiful sentences that mix urban slang with pitch-perfect lyricism, resulting in a new way of expressing American English."