Scott Korb


23 April 2018

The Soul-Crushing Student Essay

The New York Times Sunday Review today has an essay from me called The Soul-Crushing Student Essay. Here is the takeaway:

A decade teaching young writers has taught me a great deal. First, we need to value more the complete and complex lives of young people: where they come from, how they express themselves. They have already lived lives worth of our attention and appreciation.

Second, we need to encourage young people to take seriously the lives theyve lived, even as they come to understand—often through schooling and just as often not—that theres a whole lot more we'll expect of them. Through this, we can help them learn to expect more of themselves, too.


01 February 2018

Between the Wolf in the Tall Grass and the Wolf in the Tall Story

I am very pleased to announce the Longreads release of a mini-course about empathy that began as a talk I delivered in June 2017 at Pacific Universitys MFA in Writing Program: Between the Wolf in the Tall Grass and the Wolf in the Tall Story. This was a collaboration with the psychologist Paul Bloom, author of Against EmpathyDaniel Raeburn, who wrote the glorious memoir Vessels; and William Gatewood, who originally heard the talk as a Pacific student. My many thanks go out to them and our editor at Longreads, Krista Stevens.

04 May 2017

"Misskiss" in Guernica

This week in Guernica I have an essay about kissing, Misskiss. In it, I make reference to some of my sons early attempts to write and I look ahead to when we might stop kissing—and then when we might start again. This piece will be collected in a book forthcoming by W.W. Norton, and edited by Brian Turner and Ed Winstead.

04 November 2016

"Baldwin in the Obama Years"

Today at Guernica I have a new essay about teaching James BaldwinThe Fire Next Time throughout Obamas presidency. Here is a little of what I conclude:

It only became clear to me as I taught the book over the past few years ... following the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, as we discussed the protests in Ferguson and the renewed vigor and revolutionary moment captured by Black Lives Matter, that Obama is not the key figure in this country. I had been wrong: the American future is precisely not as bright or as dark as his. And my students, who have paid attention to a chokehold on Staten Island and a shooting in greater St. Louis, and who remembered a black teenager killed in Sanford, Florida, and who are reckoning with recent killings in Tulsa and Charlotte and Los Angeles, now know what Baldwin was talking about. Theyve seen the private fears of white Americans projected onto American blacks. We see it every day. This is our ongoing crisis; there is serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And my students know this now. Theyve seen anger in the world, and it makes sense to them, and now it seems right to see it on the page.