Jan Donley

Associate Professor
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"I love Berklee for its openness to individuality and all of its unique personalities. Even though Writing and Communication is a required class and some of the students probably aren't thrilled about taking it, they're so imaginative. And if I appeal to that imagination and to their love of the creative process—which they all have—the class goes really well."

"I find that this age group really identifies with their own coming of age, so I focus on that kind of literature and get them thinking about all the different ways we come of age—those pivotal moments in our lives when we move in new or unexpected directions. What they read is a mixture of nonfiction and fiction; what they write is nonfiction. Personal narrative is one of the pieces that they do, but I also have them write about the literature they are reading. We often discuss songs and lyrics and consider ways to use these as source material."

"Another assignment I do with students is letter writing. I write between three and five letters a semester to the class. The students reply to my letters individually. Sometimes they reply directly to my thoughts, or they can write about whatever they want. This letter assignment generates some of the best writing I ever get from students, partly I think because the students are free to write about whatever's on their minds. I encourage them to use ideas from the letters in some of their formal papers."


Career Highlights
  • B.A., University of Arizona
  • M.A., University of Tulsa
  • M.F.A., Indiana Unversity
  • Playwright and fiction writer
  • Novel The Side Door (2010) won Best in General Fiction from the Golden Crown Literary Society (GOLDIE) and was chosen by the American Library Association to be on their prestigious Rainbow List
  • Play It's Just the Wind featured in 2007 Boston Theater Marathon
  • Short stories appear in literary journals 34th Parallel and Silk Road and in the anthology Stories from Where We Live