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Off Campus Writers' Workshop - OCWW

Elizabeth Wetmore: Setting and Place

  • June 03, 2021
  • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Remote


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Remote (OCWW may add a live event with separate registration)

Place is more than a physical location, and setting is more than just historical coordinates. The origins of a piece of writing can be the physical realities of the world or a casually spoken phrase that asks for further explanation. In this brief talk, we’ll begin with the question “Where are you from?” and then try to follow the answers home. 

Eudora Welty stated that place was not only a source of inspiration in her writing:

“It is a source of knowledge. It tells me the important things. It steers me and keeps me going straight, because place is a definer and a confiner of what I’m doing. It helps me to identify, to recognize and explain. It does so much for you of itself. It saves me. Why, you couldn’t write a story that happened nowhere. I couldn’t, anyway. I couldn’t write anything that abstract. I wouldn’t be interested in anything that abstract.”

- From  “The Art of Fiction No. 47Paris Review Fall 1972

“Without even leaving one’s door, one can know the whole world.” 

- Lao Tse

Reading: Bryan Washington’s short story “Alief,” but I highly recommend the entire collection, LOT, if participants have time to read it. It is one of the best examples of how place and setting enliven, deepen, and even define an author’s work. 

Bio: Elizabeth Wetmore variously tended bar, taught English, drove a cab, edited psychology dissertations, and painted silos and cooling towers at a petrochemical plant before becoming a writer. A West Texas native who lived in a one-room cabin in the woods outside Flagstaff, Arizona while she worked as a classical music announcer,  she is most at home in the desert, near the sea, or on the side of a mountain. She lives in Chicago, but she dreams of being bicoastal (Lake Michigan and Lake Travis). 

She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and two fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council as well as a grant from the Barbara Deming Foundation. Her work has appeared in a number of literary journals including the Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, Crab Orchard Review, and others. Her novel, VALENTINE, published on March 31 by HarperCollins, debuted at #2 on the New York Times Bestseller List and has been long-listed for the Center for Fiction's 2020 First Novel Prize. 

We offer free student memberships at a discounted rate of $5.00 per session. You must send verification of your student status. Please contact Claudia Katz at for details.

9:00-9:30 Socializing

9:30-12:00  Program

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