Dr. William Burriss
Lab hour instructor
William Burriss has been teaching at universities for over thirty years, including time at the University of Riyad in Saudi Arabia and Hangzhou University in China. Teaching overseas has made him especially interested in what people from different backgrounds bring to their writing, both in what they have to say and the unexpected challenges that are encountered in trying to express different experiences. His academic background is in modern fiction with a focus on how novelists have tried to understand encounters with non-western cultures, but he also has special interest in creative writing.
Burriss has been living in Indianapolis for over fifteen years and in Indiana for around twenty-seven years, with time in Bloomington (mostly) and Terre Haute. He lives with his wife and a neighborhood cat that has adopted them as his principal guesthouse and snack-stop when the owner lets him out. He met his wife while teaching in China. When they have time, they enjoy working in their garden. Usually his wife does the planting while he tries to keep up with the weeds, and then they both battle the bugs if theywant to enjoy a harvest. Savoring their own asparagus and raspberries are often two of the highlights of their summers.
Reading first got him interested in writing as a way to explore and better understand his own life as well as the experience of others. These days, he identifies himslef more as a reader than as a writer. He likes to spend time with so many writers that it is difficult for him to name favorites, and usually he tries to have on-going projects that will provide a contrast of visions. Just now he is reading works of Fyodor Dostoevsky and Richard Powers. Dostoevsky was one of the first writers to explore how modern life creates isolated individuals who still struggle for human dignity with sometimes comic and sometimes tragic results. Powers is a contemporary American writer from the mid-west with interests in science and music who seems determined to understand a broad range of problems while rarely giving up on finding solutions for them. His sense of humor and faith in the healing power of art and the human imagination make Burriss look forward to reading and re-reading his books when not working with students.