Skip to main content
magical realism hero

Writing Magical Realism and Slipstream

Course dates

July 1 to July 14, 2019

Application deadline


Write outside the bounds of reality as you learn the history of magical realism as a genre of political subversion and work to bring elements of magical realist and slipstream writing into your own narratives.

  • Write with magic and get strange! Produce work that introduces fantastic elements in real-world settings by working with established authors in the genre.
  • Study the history and elements of magical realism and slipstream and learn how your writing can enter that conversation.
  • Explore magical realist writing and writers as well as films that have been influenced by magical realism like the Oscar-winning best picture, The Shape of Water.
  • Create metaphor with the magical aspects of your narrative. Get political!
  • Read your work in a public student showcase.



Undergraduate: ENGL 422, 3 units
Graduate/post-baccalaureate: ENGL 622, 3 units




Anyone with basic college-level writing skills who is interested in learning more about writing fiction in the vein of magical realism and slipstream is encouraged to apply. Previous creative writing experience not required but helpful.


  1. Submit a 2-4 page sample of fiction in MLA format and a one-page statement of interest telling me why you are interested in taking the course.
  2. Submit/upload the materials listed in step one when you apply online by April 29, 2019.


Professor Brandi M. Spaethe

Guest Artists

Lesley Nneka Arimah –

Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up in Nigeria and wherever else her father was stationed for work. She was selected for the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35, and her debut collection What It Means when a Man Falls from the Sky won the 2017 Kirkus Prize and the 2017 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. Her work has appeared in The New YorkerHarper’s, and GRANTA and has received support from The Elizabeth George Foundation and MacDowell, among others. She has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize and a National Magazine Award, and won the African Commonwealth Short Story Prize and an O. Henry Award. She lives in Minneapolis and is working on a novel about you.

Daniel Olivas: –

Daniel A. Olivas is the author of nine books and editor of two anthologies. His books include the novel, The Book of Want, the landmark anthology, Latinos in Lotusland, and Things We Do Not Talk About: Exploring Latino/a Literature through Essays and Interviews. His latest books are The King of Lighting Fixtures: Stories, and Crossing the Border: Collected Poems. Widely anthologized, Daniel has written for many publications including The New York Times Los Angeles TimesLos Angeles Review of BooksHuffington PostPANKFairy Tale Review New Madrid, and The Prairie Schooner Blog. He shares blogging duties on La Bloga, which is dedicated to Chicanx and Latinx literature. Daniel, the grandson of Mexican immigrants, grew up near the Pico-Union and Koreatown neighborhoods of Los Angeles and now makes his home northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Ryka Aoki

Ryka Aoki is the author of Seasonal Velocities, He Mele a Hilo, and Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul. She has appeared in Vogue, Elle, Publisher’s Weekly, and the Huffington Post, and was honored by the California State Senate for “extraordinary commitment to the visibility and well-being of Transgender people.” Ryka was the inaugural performer for the first ever Transgender Stage at San Francisco Pride, and has performed in venues including the San Francisco Pride Main Stage, Harvard University, the National Queer Arts Festival, Yale University, UC Berkeley, UCLA, the University of Iceland, and Ladyfest South. Ryka also appears in the documentaries “Diagnosing Difference” and “Riot Acts.”  She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University and is professor of English at Santa Monica College.

Kimberly Dark –

Kimberly Dark is a writer, professor, and raconteur who works to reveal the hidden architecture of everyday life one clever essay, poem, and story at a time. She uses humor, surprise, and intimacy to help audiences discover their influences and reclaim their power as social creators. Kimberly teaches in Sociology and Women's Studies at CSU San Marcos. Kimberly has taught, written award-winning plays, and performed for a wide range of audiences in various countries over the past two decades. She is the author of The Daddies and Love and Errors and Co-Editor of the anthology Ways of Being in Teaching. Her essays appear in popular online publications such as Everyday Feminism and Ravishly. Kimberly crosses boundaries to show how we must engage all the wisdom and verve we have to create the most compassionate, fair and inclusive world we can.

More Writing Courses