Fiction Writing

Apr 2021

As a fellow trans person, I expected Jenny to be welcoming and want to help me with my creative development. I was wrong. She consistently talked down to me and said rude things about my writing style. To be clear, I'm more than willing to take constructive criticism, but that's not what happened. Her feedback was inconsistent and contradictory. One moment she said the writing felt effortless, poetic, and expertly executed, the next she said that it was jarring and stilted. She said she really loved the thought and messaging behind a story, the next she said that she wasn't sure what the point of it was. When I was talking in workshop, she would consistently interrupt me, though the whole point of the workshop process is to have everyone give their feedback. Again, to be clear, it's not like I would ramble on for ten minutes. I'd give the normal amount of feedback and try to make it as concise as possible. I didn't get anything particularly valuable from the class and didn't really get the chance to connect with my classmates, because any time not in workshop she would ramble about her personal life. On top of all that, she misgendered me. Coming from cis professors, this sucks, but it was extra painful coming from a trans one. I've never had a creative writing teacher treat me this way at Barnard or Columbia. If you're serious about being a writer, I suggest taking creative writing classes with literally anyone else.

Nov 2020

I don't agree with the previous post. I definitely think Professor Hisham is knowledgeable and funny and says the most wonderful things. But as a writing student, I feel isolated and intimidated in his class, and most of the other students in the class feel the same way too even though we don't say it because he's a superstar professor or whatever. The workload is also way too much - it's both a writing workshop and a literature class and it gets old by the 4th week or so. After the excitement of learning from someone as distinguished as him dies down, all that's left is the feeling of not being a good enough writer. He's very prescriptive of what he expects from his students as writers and universalizes/homogenizes the writing experience in a way that makes it feel like only certain types of writing is worthwhile and only certain types of people can be/are writers. Have I left having learned anything from this class? Yes, I read more intentionally now and I love words more. But as a writer? I feel crippled - I'm terrified to write anything new and am even considering why I'm even a writer. So, if you've been writing for a long time and have taken other writing courses, maybe this class (fiction Writing) is for you. If not, there are other writing classes - you might come here and feel like your wings have been clipped.

Jan 2007

In my opinion I found it difficult to connect with him. I thought I was alone in my general dislike of his demeanor and it is refreshing to see that many past students feel the same. I found Hamburger to be very focused on a certain type of writing. When more abstract or “subversive” stories were work shopped he usually did not like them.I got more from my peer crituques than him ( maybe is a generational thing) I think the most important thing I learned from him was to improve my grammar, other than that I don’t see myself taking anything away from this class.