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Nisi Shawl Papers

Identifier: RBSC-SFWA-042

Scope and Contents

The Nisi Shawl papers contain printed (paper-based) and handwritten manuscripts, correspondence and notes related to this material, journals, planners, materials accompanying her development as a writer, digital media, oversized, and miscellaneous material. The collection is divided into series based upon format.  Series I is Short Fiction, followed by Series II, which is Long Fiction, and Series III is Non-fiction.  Series IV is Scholarly and Professional Development, while Series V is Notes, and Series VI is correspondence.  Series VII is Personal Information and some of these files are RESTRICTED and require the author’s permission to view them.  If you would like to view the restricted files, simply talk to our Rare Books & Special Collections Curator and he/she will get in contact with the author on your behalf.  Series VIII continues with Journals and Planners, Series IX is Poems and Songs, and Series X is Digital Media.  Series XI is Oversized materials and lastly, Series XII is Miscellaneous. Series I Short fiction is broken down into short stories and novelettes, while Series II long fiction contains novellas and novels.  These were determined by looking at word count and/or page count.  If word count was not given then page count was used and vice versa. While Nisi’s story Matched is a short story, it is placed within the Long Fiction series because it is an excerpt from Nisi’s novel The Blazing World.  Any chapters noted to be from the short story Matched will also be placed under Long Fiction and associated with Blazing World. Many of the short stories have also been published within Nisi’s short story compilation book called Filter House.  Any stories noted to have been placed in that book have been marked as belonging to Filter House as well. Short Fiction, Long Fiction, and Nonfiction will contain manuscript drafts, critiques, and notes known to belong to titled stories. Series IV contains materials related to Nisi’s employment, conventions, workshops (such as Clarion West), and interest groups that pertain to her development as an author, teacher, and speaker.  Professional materials will mainly consist of book reviews, journal articles, newspaper articles, magazine articles, and consultations.  Any articles or reviews written by Nisi will have the title listed first on the finding aid. Employment materials contain paper documents related to places such as Dawn Treader Bookshop and Borders.  Scholarly materials will include documents related to her education and academic writing. Series V contains notes made during Nisi’s University times, secondary school times and others.  Her notes consist of potential manuscript notes (if untitled), personal notes, and scribbles.  Titled notes will be located with the story they are associated with. Series VII contains restricted material that is viewable upon the author’s consent (see above for instructions).


  • created: 1953-2014
  • Other: Date acquired: 11/23/2009


Conditions Governing Access

No Restirction on Series I-VI and VIII-XII.  Series VII contains some files that are restricted and require the author's permission to view.  Please contact our Curator and they will contact the author directly. Photographs and photocopies of collection are prohibited.

Conditions Governing Use

Property Rights are transferred to the University Libraries per the signed Deed of Gift Document. Literary Rights are retained by the content creator.  Any copyrights so stated in the materials remain in force.

Biographical or Historical Information

Nisi Shawl is an African-American science fiction and fantasy writer best known for her short stories. She was born in 1955 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  At 16, she moved and enrolled at the University of Michigan's Residential College.  Due to her experiences at the University, she decided to pursue other options and later moved to a house called Cosmic Plateau and started writing. Through many different jobs and hardships, she remained steadfast and kept writing, eventually earning her first published piece in the Semiotext(e).  After an encounter with author's Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, and Pat Cadigan at a 1992 cyberpunk symposium, she was encouraged to attend the Clarion West Writers' Workshop.  She also later attended another writers' program, Cottages at Hedgebrook, a retreat on Whidbey Island, both of which she said contributed to the development of her writing. Nisi is an accomplished writer who is a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, a graduate of Clarion West's Writers' Workshop (as well as one of their board members), and she is a founder of the Carl Brandon Society.  Nisi is the co-author of Writing the Other: Bridging Cultural Differences for Sucessful Fiction and she won the 2008 James Tiptree Jr. Award for her book Filter House.  She was the Guest of Honor at WisCon 35 in 2011. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington and reviews books as a freelance contributor for the Seattle Times. For more information on Nisi Shawl and her works, visit her webpage found here:

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Arrangement Note

Series I is Short Fiction, Series II is Long Fiction, and Series III is Non-fiction.  Series IV contains Scholarly and Professional Development material, Series V is Notes, and Series VI is Correspondence.  Series VII is Personal Information with some files being restricted.  Please contact our Curator to gain permission from the author to view these files.  Series VIII consists of Journals and Planners, Series IX is Poems and Songs, while Series X is Digital Media.  Series XI contains Oversized material, and Series XII comprises Miscellaneous material.

Source of Acquisition

Nisi Shawl

Accruals and Additions

Additions from Nisi Shawl: 09/28/2011, 02/03/2012, 03/12/2012, 10/01/2012, 10/05/2016

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Repository Details

Part of the Northern Illinois University Repository

Founders Memorial Library
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb IL 60115 US