Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Aaron Hamburger

Fiction, Creative Nonfiction
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Office Location

Stonecoast MFA Office - 98 Bedford Street, Portland, ME 04102


Stonecoast MFA Office: 207-780-4423

Academic Degrees

  • MFA, Columbia University 2001
  • BA, University of Michigan 1995


Aaron Hamburger (Fiction, Creative Nonfiction) was awarded the Rome Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his story collection The View From Stalin's Head (Random House). His novel Faith for Beginners (Random House), was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Poets & Writers, Tin House, Subtropics, Crazyhorse, Details, Michigan Quarterly Review, Boulevard, and The Village Voice. He has received fellowships from the Edward F. Albee Foundation and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy, as well as residencies from Yaddo and Djerassi. He has also taught writing at Columbia University, NYU, Brooklyn College MFA Program, the George Washington University, and the Stonecoast MFA Program.


Areas of Scholarship

Fiction and non-fiction focused on travel, cultural identity, religion, food, sexual identity, and family relationships.

Recent Publications

“Guiltless Pleasures,” short story, Crazyhorse, forthcoming 2016

Essay on author Jacob Dinezon, Tin House, forthcoming 2016-2017

Review of novel What Belongs to You, The New York Times Book Review, 2016

“The Safe Word,” Zone 3, 2015

“The Secret of Mexican Wine Cookies,” The Chicago Tribune, Printer’s Row, 2015

“A ‘Shortcut to Europe’ in D.C.? Not Quite,” The Washington Post, 2014

“Honeymoon for One,” Subtropics, 2014

“The Collected Stories of Frank Sargeson,” Tin House, 2014

“The Scene Also Rises,” book review, New York Times Book Review, 2013

“No More Wild Orchids,” The Carolina Quarterly, 2013

“Bon Appetit: How Food Writing Fed My Fiction,” Poets & Writers, 2013

“Janet Frame: A Literary Pilgrimage,” travel blog, Matador, 2013

“Draft: Reverse Outlining,” New York Times, 2013

"My Constipation Tour of India,” travel essay, Vice, 2013

“Impress Your Friends with a Nostalgic Slice of Heaven,” Tablet, 2012

“Exchange,” Attitude, 2012



Or, Learning about Plot from Thomas Hardy

Aaron Hamburger

“Plot” can be one of the most slippery and angst-inducing idioms for writers of prose: fiction, pop fiction and non-fiction alike. In this seminar, we’ll learn some tricks of plotting from one of the all-time storytelling greats, Thomas Hardy. As we take apart the structure of Hardy’s novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, we’ll nail down exactly what we mean by this oft-used yet little-understood term, considering the differences between “plot,” “story,” and “action.” Once we’ve reached some conclusions about what exactly we mean when we talk about plot, we’ll then analyze how plot organizes narrative in other works of writing. Finally, we’ll turn from literary analysis to exercises to examine how plot is functioning in students’ current writing projects.

Required Reading:

Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Chapters 1-20

Suggested Reading:

Gonzalo Barr, “Braulio Gets His Car Back” (from the story collection The Last Flight of Jose Luis Balboa)

Lorrie Moore, “Terrific Mother” (from the story collection Birds of America)

L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz

E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel

Patricia Smith, Blood Dazzler

Creative Activity

Currently completing a short story collection focused on food and identity, and a novel inspired by Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles.

Awards and Recognition

Djerassi Artists’ Program Residency, Spring 2011

Yaddo Artists Colony, Residency, 2010

Civitella Ranieri Fellowship, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Umbria, Italy, 2009

Lambda Literary Award Nominee, 2006 (for FAITH FOR BEGINNERS)

Rome Prize in Literature, American Academy of Arts and Letters, American Academy in Rome, 2005-2006 (for THE VIEW FROM STALIN’S HEAD)

Violet Quill Nominee for Fiction, 2004, (for THE VIEW FROM STALIN’S HEAD)

Fellowship, Edward F. Albee Foundation, Summer 2002

First Prize in the Dornstein Contest for Young Jewish Fiction Writers, 2001

Professional Activity

PEN American Center, New York City, NY

Served on membership committee (2008-2012), volunteer blogger for PEN World Voices Festival.

Lambda Literary Foundation, New York City, NY

Volunteered as a judge of Best New Fiction Awards (2010)

Saint and Sinners Literary Festival, New Orleans, LA

Taught seminars for a literary festival fundraiser to combat HIV/AIDS. Served on Advisory Board. (2004-2011)


PEN American Center, The Association of Writers & Writing Programs, Lambda Literary Foundation