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Ron Hansen and His Myriad Literary Hats

Renowned professor and author Ron Hansen M.A. ’95 knows how to write a good story. Even with his Old West “outlaw” trilogy of novels nearly complete, he’s still found time to bring his storytelling to the classroom, teaching in both the English Department and film program—in addition to heading the creative writing program and its accompanying reading series.

And now that the creative writing minor is open to all students at SCU (including English majors!) he expects even more students to enroll in the program.

“We’ve had a number of students who’ve gone on to get Ph.D.s and M.F.As,” he says. “One of my former students has even written a children’s book, and another is teaching at USC after completing his MFA at the University of Pittsburg and Ph.D. at the University of Michigan.”

But alongside the more traditional academic track that aspiring writers take, Hansen feels the creative writing program leverages any student above the career competition once they join the workforce.

“In almost any line of work, if you can write, you can be successful,” he says. “A lot of careers begin with the simple notion of students learning how to write commanding sentences, which gets them noticed by their supervisor. Later they flourish in another field simply because they learned how to write well.”

Each quarter, the creative writing program brings in literary figures for poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction readings, and sponsors readings from representative faculty—with two of the reading events coinciding with the biannual release of the Santa Clara Review, SCU’s literary magazine. Readers have included Michael Blumenthal, Bo Caldwell, and Marianne Villanueva. Next up: Tobias Wolff.

In addition to the creative writing program and other English courses, Hansen enjoys teaching film and screenwriting, with a number of his former students going on to work for Pixar and other world-class studios.

Following the upcoming release of his novel Kid, which digs into the life and times of Billy the Kid, Hansen’s trilogy – starting with Desperadoes and followed by The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (which became a major feature film starring Brad Pitt) – will be complete.