For better or for worse, movies affect the way we read and write fiction. As writers—whether we approach our work with a cinematographer’s eye and a screenwriter’s heart or we rarely watch movies and have no desire to see our work adapted for the screen—the language of cinema has already spent over a century seeping into the ways we tell stories on the page. And while a lot can be said about how it has degraded the art of fiction, we should also consider how it has enhanced and expanded the art. What cinematic impulses do we knowingly and unknowingly bring to our work, and how might we learn from and take advantage of those impulses, the bad as well as the good ones? In this talk, we’ll discuss these questions as we also ask the most important one of all: What can literature do that cinema cannot?
Vu Tran's first novel, Dragonfish, was a New York Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of the Year. His writing has also appeared in the O. Henry Prize Stories, the Best American Mystery Stories, Ploughshares, and Virginia Quarterly. He is the winner of a Whiting Award and an NEA Fellowship, and has also been a fellow at Bread Loaf, Sewanee, Yaddo, and MacDowell. Born in Vietnam and raised in Oklahoma, Vu received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his PhD from the Black Mountain Institute in Las Vegas. He teaches at the University of Chicago, where he is an Associate Professor of Practice in English and Creative Writing.