Teaching

In 2014, Professor Troy won the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

In 2015, Professor Troy won the University President’s Award For Leadership.MaryTroy5

Courses Mary Troy Taught:

Graduate Courses:
English 5110: Graduate Workshop in Fiction
English 5170: Techniques, Methods and Effects in Fiction
English 5190: Literary Journal Editing (Natural Bridge)
English 5200: MFA Readings
English 5970: Special Topics – Chekhov and His American Heirs
English 5970: Special Topics – The Contemporary Novella
English 6000: MFA Thesis

Undergraduate Courses
English 2040: Introduction to the writing of Fiction
English 3040: Fiction Writing Workshop: Narrative Techniques
English 4140: Advanced Fiction Writing Workshop
Honors College Special Topics – God In Fiction

Mary Troy on Teaching MFA Workshops

“Writing is an art, and each of us is trying to create something true and memorable and entertaining, something that moves and delights. Something that will live longer than we will. Each story and book is another attempt at this, and with that in mind, I approached each story that was put up for discussion with eagerness, with hope, with pride that others spent as much time in this pursuit as I do.  As I read the story, I tried to decide what the story was meant to be, where the story was, what it was. I encouraged the other students to tell the writer how they would describe the story. Was it a satire about finding true love, or was it a realist and mostly serious story about the difficulty of being 22 and adriftt? Were we meant to be distanced? Were we meant to cry? Were we meant to laugh? How could we tell what we were meant to do? What was the attitude of the author to his subject and characters? Then because each story is different, the discussion would go into characterization or point of view or pacing or voice. We could spend time on the beginning, or we could discuss why and how the ending was not quite right. We may have suggested cutting characters or adding scenes.We may have focused on details needed or on how well those we had worked.  Our discussion focused on technique, craft. I guided the discussion, allowing all to speak as much or as little as they wished. (I never forced anyone to speak, as I found that demeaning and a silly way to treat adults!) I often compared the writer with others better published. I always allowed the writer to ask questions or to comment on the comments, but not until the discussion was close to  over. I provided a written summary of my remarks, one or two pages long, and I asked all the students to do so as well. But some stories would not go away, and I often found myself weeks after a piece had been discussed sending emails to the author, or stopping him in the hallways, calling him in for a conference, because I saw another piece of the puzzle. Writing  is an ongoing process, and schedules and summaries do not always work with art.

I believe everything a writer hears in workshop is valuable. Even the inane and truly stupid is valuable. The trick is in listening right. For example, if the consensus is a scene is needed on page 8 between the dancer and her pupil, the author may not agree. He may know this is not a true plot point or forward movement, but instead of deciding the workshop comments are wrong, he can go back to page one or two and discover the clues he put in that made his intelligent and good readers want a scene between the dancer and her pupil. If readers are misled, it is the writer who has done so.

Moreover, I believe workshops are not for the benefit of the specific story under discussion, but for the future, for that writer ten, twenty years later who will understand craft better, will write in isolation with more confidence.

And more than all that, I believe fiction should be true, much truer than facts.”