Fran Hoepfner

Fran Hoepfner

(New York) Artist Website Artist-in-Residence November-December Residency Year: 2021


Fran Hoepfner is a writer and cultural critic from Chicago. Three years before coming to Surel’s Place she turned away from the world of standup comedy to pursue work in literary satire and comedic fiction. She wrote, edited, and directed video for The Onion, the largest satirical news organization. She teaches creative writing at Rutgers University which she says, “is not unlike my various stints at ice cream shops, working and collaborating with college-aged students who want nothing more than to undermine me, which I believe has kept me humble and appreciative of the opportunities I’ve been given when I’ve had them.”

Hoepfner’s fiction work plays with form and seeks to depict experiences on the page as they are often felt in practice — be it as a travel journal, a story all in emails, an essay told in two columns. Her writing is funny, sure, but sharp, to the point, occasionally disruptive, absurd, and striving to be loving. She completed her MFA in fiction writing at Rutgers University and her undergraduate studies at Kalamazoo College in Michigan where she studied English and History with an emphasis in Russian classical music.

This background in music served her as a commentator on NPR’s Here & Now about Holst’s “The Planets.” She is also editor-at-large for Bright Wall/Dark Room, an online magazine devoted to exploring the relationship between movies and the business of being alive, where she writes “just let people engage with art with a much lower barrier to entry.”

Hoepfner split the focus of her residency on three projects: editing and revising her first novel which was nearing completion, researching and writing a new novel, and catching up on reading. 

Boy Teachers is a comedic novel about male friendship, teacher-student boundaries, willful ignorance, classical music, and systems that protect those who wield power inappropriately. Hoepfner’s second project is about the relationship between a woman and her aunt, based loosely on stories of her own grandmother and her aunt, both Holocaust survivors. We were the first to hear some new material created in this early draft, which sparked when the Jewish Museum in New York City reached out to Hoepfner’s family.

“In 2017, the Jewish Museum in New York City contacted my family in order to get more information on an artifact in their permanent collection – a bracelet made by my great, great-aunt Greta Perlman in the concentration camp Terezin in then-Czechoslovakia,” Hoepfner recalled. “The existence of this bracelet was news to my family, especially my mother, whose mother herself broke off ties with Greta sometime in the 1970’s.” The Smithsonian Magazine featured an article in 2018 about the bracelet. The Jewish Museum also has a listing on the bracelet inspiring Hoepfner’s second novel. Pictured: A detail of the bracelet at The Jewish Museum, NY, Gift of the Estate of Greta Perlman.

In addition to her public events at Surel’s Place, Hoepfner spent time at Borah High School through our pARTner program and did a private event at Ahavath Beth Israel.

December 4, 2022

December 8, 2021