Karen Bender

Karen Bender

To me, teaching creative writing is great privilege and joy. It’s a chance to help students join the literary conversation, find the authors and books who inspire them, and discover what they want to say to the world.  Becoming a writer is about creation and revision, and in my classes, students learn the importance of process and how to write, revise, and revise again.

I love teaching at Hollins because of the students’ extremely high talent and vision, their capacity for rigor, and also their interest in helping one another reach their goals. It’s a place of nurturing and support by the tremendous, caring faculty and the students. This creates a nourishing environment where students can succeed. And often during workshop, I feel as if I’m witnessing the future of literature, watching students take their first steps with ambition, bravery, and heart.

Visit my website at www.karenebender.com.

Areas of Expertise

  • Creative Writing (Fiction)

Courses Taught

  • Advanced Creative Writing
  • Graduate Tutorial
  • First-Year Graduate Seminar


  • M.F.A., University of Iowa
  • B.S., UCLA

Publications & Articles

  • "The New Order," Counterpoint Press, November 2018
  • "Refund," Counterpoint Press, 2015
  • "A Town of Empty Rooms," Counterpoint Press, 2013
  • "Like Normal People," Houghton Mifflin, 2000


  • My short story collection, Refund, was a Finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize, and on the Longlist for the Story prize; it was also a Los Angeles Times bestseller. Like Normal People was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, an LA Times Bestseller, and part of the Barnes and Noble Discover program.
  • My stories have appeared in magazines including The New Yorker, Granta, Zoetrope, Ploughshares, Guernica, The Harvard Review and others, and have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Best American Short Stories, and won two Pushcart prizes.
  • My fiction has been read as part of the Selected Shorts program on NPR, and I’ve received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rona Jaffe Foundation. My nonfiction has appeared in publications including Real Simple, The New York Times Book ReviewO, The Oprah MagazineThe Harvard Review, theatlantic.com, and narrative.ly.
  • I’ve taught creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Warren Wilson College, the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Chatham University, Antioch University Los Angeles, and Tunghai University in Taiwan.
  • Fiction editor, online literary journal, Scoundrel Time
  • Co-editor, the nonfiction anthology Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood and Abortion.