Scott Nadelson
  • Scott Nadelson
  • Assistant Professor of English; Hallie Ford Chair in Writing
  • Eaton 202
  • 503-370-6290
  • 503-370-6944 fax

Scott Nadelson

Creative Pursuits and Interests

I am author of the story collections Saving Stanley: The Brickman Stories (2004) and The Cantor's Daughter (2006), both of which have won regional and national awards, including the Foundation for Jewish Culture's Samuel Goldberg Fiction Prize, the Reform Judaism Fiction Prize, the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and the Oregon Book Award for short fiction.  My third collection, Aftermath, will be published by Hawthorne Books in the fall of 2011.  I have also published stories and essays in a variety of national literary journals, including Ploughshares, Glimmer Train Stories, Alaska Quarterly Review, American Literary Review, Arts & Letters, Cimarron Review, Post Road, and Puerto del Sol.

My primary creative interest centers around character-driven fiction, in which people struggle between the competing influences of their fears and desires, sometimes sabotaging their own best interests.  My stories revolve around the cultural limbo of American Judaism, with its contradictory traditions of separation and assimilation, and the mundane world of the New Jersey suburbs, both of which provide a backdrop for characters who fail to participate fully in their own lives.  I have a secondary interest in creative nonfiction, and I am currently working on a collection of meditative personal essays that trace a search for identity and fulfillment in a live governed by fear.

Teaching Philosophy

Teaching is as much a passion for me as writing, and I strongly believe that the teaching of creative writing, particularly on the undergraduate level and in a liberal arts context, complements studies in literature.  My primary aim in creative writing courses is to teach students to read closely, from a writer's perspective; I do so by providing a framework of rigorous analytical exploration of narrative and regular practice of craft.  Students in my classes learn to read with an eye toward understanding how a writer has put a work of fiction together, how characters are developed and plots structured, how a certain combination of words and sentences creates an emotional or intellectual response in a reader.  At the same time, I encourage students to engage their imaginations, to experiment, to discover their natural voices and their unique perspectives on the world.

In practical terms, I design my courses to immerse students in the world of fiction writing and to foster a sense of community.  Classroom time is taken up almost entirely with discussion of professional or student stories, both of which we examine first to discover the work's intention.  In workshops I challenge students to put aside taste and preference and instead begin by working to understand what an author has tried to accomplish in a story, how she has used the elements of craft to do so, and where, if at all, she has fallen short of her goals.  As a class, we put ourselves in the shoes of a writer, in order to gain a better understanding of both her work and our own.


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