Silas Dent Zobal, Ph.D.

Department: English & Creative Writing

Associate Professor of English & Creative Writing

  • Education
  • PHD, SUNY Binghamton
  • MFA, Univ of Washington
  • BA, DePaul University

Born poor in Bellingham, Wash., I grew up crabbing and fishing for salmon in Bellingham Bay, and riding my bicycle to the Lummi Indian Reservation to buy fireworks with my paper-route money. Educated in Chicago, I worked nights at UPS to pay for what my grants didn't cover. When I graduated, I got a job as a bicycle messenger but was hit by four cars in the Loop. Banged up, I went to graduate school. Now a decade-long inhabitant of the East Coast, I've spent the last 10 or so years making up for, in the words of a friend, my "misspent youth."

Now, at Susquehanna University and at my house (built 1871), I teach, and I write, and I make things out of wood. I've published a collection of stories, The Inconvenience of the Wings. My novel, People of the Broken Neck, comes out in 2016. Sometimes, when I'm not writing, I'm building things. (I have a workshop down by our chicken coop.) I've built windows, a toy helicopter, a gumball machine, a cherry bench.

In Why We Make Things and Why It Matters, Peter Korn, a furniture maker, writes, "Every man-made thing, be it a chair, a text, or a school, is thought made substance." Even our lives, I've come to think, can be built in the way that one builds a bench out of cherry wood, or a book out of words, or a school out of bricks. That is, you get to construct your life, though you are limited by the materials at hand (the board-feet of quarter-sawn oak, the breadth of vocabulary, or the color of brick). You get to pick the joinery! You can be conscious about this construction, or you cannot. It's your choice.

Let me be clear: I want to be conscious all the time. And I bet, if you're a student considering coming to SU that you do too. I bet that you're self-conscious, that you can't stop thinking, and that your friends tell you that you think too much. You don't. There's no such thing as thinking too much.

Whoever you are, I look forward to thinking with you, face to face.

For more information, see

The Inconvenience of the Wings Cover


Binghamton University, Doctor of Philosophy in English                  2005

Field Exams: 20th Century World Literature, American Short Fiction, Contemporary American Novels

Dissertation: The Archimedes Palimpsest, a collection of short fiction.

Dissertation Director: John Vernon.

Committee: Jaimee Wriston Colbert, Susan Strehle, Marilyn Gaddis-Rose  

University of Washington, Master of Fine Arts                                                          2001                

Major Area: Fiction                

Thesis: Ghostwritten, a collection of stories.                

Thesis Director: David Bosworth  

DePaul University, Bachelor of Arts                                                                                 1997

Major: English Concentration: Creative Writing



Creative work and Scholarship


The Inconvenience of the Wings.  Fomite Press: Burlington, VT.  June 15, 2015.

People of the Broken Neck.  Unbridled Books: Lakewood, CO.  Forthcoming Spring, 2017.  

Short Fiction:

"The Hospital." Glimmer Train Issue 88 (2013): 16-33.

"The Archimedes Palimpsest." Breaking Away: Experimental Fiction.  The Missouri Review, (2012).Ed. Morgan, Speer. 85-93

"Pucker Up."  Green Mountains Review.Vol. XXIV, No. 1 (2011): 202-210.

"Three Stories of Gabriel."  OR: A Literary Tabloid Issue 6 (2011): 16.

"Wretchedness."  North American Review Volume 295, Number 3 (Summer 2010): 15-20.

"The Archimedes Palimpsest."  Missouri Review Volume 29 Number 4 (2006): 136-148.  

"And We Saw Light." Peculiar Pilgrims, an Hourglass Press anthology. (2007): 461-471.

"My Father's House." Glimmer Train Issue 57 (Winter 2006): 134-161.

"The Bellwether." Shenandoah: the Washington and Lee University Review Volume 55 Number 2 (Fall 2005): 83-91.

"An Invocation of Birds." Beloit Fiction Journal  Volume 18 (Spring 2005).

"We Come Back More Glyph Than Flesh." 580 Split  Issue 7 (2005): 95-103.

"City of Leaves." The Santa Clara Review Volume 92 Number 1 (Fall/Winter 2004-2005): 52-67.

"Concurrence."  Iron Horse Literary Review Volume Five Number Two (Spring Thaw 2004): 114-123.

"Outlaw."  The Missouri Review Volume XXV Number 3 (2002): 129-138.

"The Language of Men Who Speak of What They Do Not Understand."  The Wisconsin Review Volume 35 Issue 3 (Summer 2001): 13-22.

"Camp of Low Angels." The New Orleans Review Volume 26 Numbers 3 & 4 (Fall/Winter 2000): 155-162.

"The Passage of the Sun." Threshold Volume 16 (1996): 19-24.   

Book Chapter:

"The Short Fiction Workshop."  The Creative Writing Guidebook.  Co-written with Catherine Dent.  Ed. Graeme Harper.  London, UK: Continuum Press.  2009.  


"All of Old.  Nothing Else Ever.  Ever Tried.  Ever Failed." Glimmer Train Bulletin 65 (2012).

"The Archeology of Originality."  Modern Language Studies 41.2 (Winter 2012).  

Selected Conference Papers and Presentations:

"The Metaphysical Hospital." Harrisburg, PA: Northeast Modern Language Association. (April 5, 2014.)

"The Stifled Writer and the PhD."  Rochester, NY: Northeast Modern Language Association. (March 12, 2012.)

"The North American Review and the Making of American Literature." Boston, MA: American Literature Association Conference. (May 27, 2011).

"'Immature Poets Borrow, Mature Poets Steal': the Archeology of Originality." New Brunswick, NJ: Northeast Modern Language Association. (April 7, 2011.)    

Silas Dent Zobal is the author of a novel, The People of the Broken Neck, and a short story collection, The Inconvenience of the Wings. He has published short fiction and essays in the Missouri Review, Glimmer Train, Lit Hub, New Orleans Review, North American Review, Green Mountain Review, Shenandoah, and elsewhere. He has won the Glimmer Train Fiction Open, been a scholar at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and been awarded a fiction fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Courses taught:

  • ENGL-205 Living Writers
  • OFFR-FRNC French Language & Culture
  • WRIT-251 Introduction to Fiction
  • WRIT-451 Advanced Novel
  • WRIT-451 Advanced Novel Workshop
  • WRIT-500 Independent Study
  • WRIT-520 Practicum