celebrating Black women writers

  • BAGS

The Future is Female...& African: Coming To & Writing Through Nnedi Okorafor's novel "Who Fears Death"

Denise R. Ervin Sundays, March 3-24
4p-5:30p ET
1p-2:30p PT
3p-4:30p CT
4 class sessions

By signing up for a class, you agree to our refund policy and code of conduct here.

“I was a trapped animal. Not trapped by the women, the house, or tradition. I was trapped by life. Like I had been a free spirit for millennia and then one day something snatched me up, something violent and angry and vengeful, and I was pulled into the body that I now resided in.”
― Nnedi Okorafor's "Who Fears Death"

Have you ever read a book that made you believe you could change the world? If you'd like to, look no further than the foundational book for this course, Nnedi Okorafor's novel, "Who Fears Death," a story, which centers a young Black girl who wasn't supposed to survive becoming the savior of her people. The book is currently in pre-production at HBO!

Anyone who believes in the beauty, the power, and the invincible spirit of the Black woman will find inspiration in the text. As writers, we'll use that inspiration to build upon, influence, and enhance your own fictional stories in The Future is Female...& African: Coming To & Writing Through Nnedi Okorafor's "Who Fears Death."

Perhaps you have an interest in African futurism and want to read and discuss a masterclass-level work.

Or you've always wanted to craft your own story that celebrates Black womanhood.

Perhaps you've been looking for an online class in which you can learn something new and share what you know with other writers.

If any of this describes you, this course was made especially for you.

    Open to beginner and intermediate writers.

    About Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
    In a post-apocalyptic Africa, the world has changed in many ways; yet in one region genocide between tribes still bloodies the land. A woman who has survived the annihilation of her village and a terrible rape by an enemy general wanders into the desert, hoping to die. Instead, she gives birth to an angry baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand. Gripped by the certainty that her daughter is different—special—she names her Onyesonwu, which means "Who fears death?" in an ancient language.

    It doesn't take long for Onye to understand that she is physically and socially marked by the circumstances of her conception. She is Ewu—a child of rape who is expected to live a life of violence, a half-breed rejected by her community. But Onye is not the average Ewu. Even as a child, she manifests the beginnings of a remarkable and unique magic. As she grows, so do her abilities, and during an inadvertent visit to the spirit realm, she learns something terrifying: someone powerful is trying to kill her.

    Desperate to elude her would-be murderer and to understand her own nature, she embarks on a journey in which she grapples with nature, tradition, history, true love, and the spiritual mysteries of her culture, and ultimately learns why she was given the name she bears: Who Fears Death.  

    *PLEASE NOTE: The book is NOT included in your course fee; must be purchased separately, in advance, via the vendor and in the format of your choice.

    All class meetings will be held via Zoom. The link to join your Zoom classroom will be provided on the morning of your class. Please check spam folders if you do not receive an email confirmation upon registration. For more information on how to download or use Zoom, please click here.

    Meet Your Instructor:
    Denise R. Ervin

    Denise R. Ervin is a creative writer hewn from the streets, classrooms, and boardrooms of the city of Detroit. Formally educated in both literature and business, she has served in corporate America by day and as an adjunct college professor by night. Her work focuses on the experiences of those who look, live, and love like her. As a teaching artist, she has spent nearly two decades performing around the country, publishing in online and print journals like AADUNA and Harbinger Asylum, crafting full-length novel projects, and leading online workshops. Most recently, Denise won a United States of Writing Grant from Poets & Writers and she was selected as a Writing Fellow by The Watering Hole. In addition to serving as Literary Arts Director for Sundress Academy for the Arts, her short story "Numbers" was recently published in The Fire Inside Volume 2, an anthology from Zora's Den. 

    Course Takeaways

    • Explore the major characters and themes of the novel (weekly discussion)
    • Understanding and practicing character development
    • Setting as character exercises
    • Practice writing dialogue
    • Point of view dissection

    Course Expectations

    • Pre-work consists of reading the first section of the novel
    • Weekly homework including reading and writing exercises. We will discuss the text in class as well as begin each writing prompt
    • Students will have the opportunity to share what they have written with the class, but it is not required

    Course Skeleton

    • Week 1 - Introduction, Discussion: Chapters 1-17, Writing Prompt: Character Building
    • Week 2 - Review Character Development, Discussion: Chapters 18-25, Writing Prompt: World Building
    • Week 3 - Review Setting as Character, Discussion: Chapters 26-42, Writing Prompt: Dialogue
    • Week 4 - Review Voice, Discussion: Chapters 43 – end of book, Writing Prompt: What’s the Point (of View)?

    We offer full refunds for cancellation with written notice up until 7 days before your class start date. From 6 days to more than 24 hours before class begins, we offer a 50% refund. If you drop a class less than 24 hours before the class begins or after it has started, you are ineligible for a refund.