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Ethan Gilsdorf's photo

Ethan Gilsdorf

Instructor Consultant


About Ethan

A GrubStreet instructor since 2007, Ethan Gilsdorf is a memoirist, essayist, critic, journalist, poet, teacher, performer, and the author of the award-winning memoir Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks: An Epic Quest for Reality Among Role Players, Online Gamers, and Other Dwellers of Imaginary Realms, named a Must-Read Book by the Massachusetts Book Awards. Hundreds of his personal essays, articles, reviews, cultural commentaries, profiles, opinion pieces, short stories, and poems have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Esquire, Boston Globe, Wired, Salon, O the Oprah Magazine, National Geographic, Brevity, Electric Literature, Poetry, The Southern Review, North American Review, The Massachusetts Review, among other publications. Twice his work has been named "Notable" by The Best American Essays. At GrubStreet, Gilsdorf is co-founder of GrubStreet's Young Adult Writers Program (YAWP), and served on the Board of Directors for 10 years. He teaches essay, memoir, journalism and other workshops, and leads GrubStreet's 10-month long intensive Essay Incubator program; he also leads writing workshops for non-profit social justice organizations. Gilsdorf got his start in journalism as a Paris-based travel writer and food and film critic for Time Out, Fodor's, and the Washington Post. He presented the TEDx talk "Why Dungeons & Dragons is Good for You (In Real Life).” He studied filmmaking and creative writing at Hampshire College, and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University. A former editor for Frank magazine and New Delta Review, Gilsdorf is the winner of the Hobblestock Peace Poetry Competition and the Esme Bradberry Contemporary Poets Prize. He has taught at LSU, Emerson College, and for LitArts RI., and is also on the faculty of the Solstice MFA Program at Lasell University. A regular presenter, performer, and event moderator, he’s been featured on NPR, The Discovery Channel, PBS, CBC, BBC; and in the documentary Revenge of the Geeks. More info: ethangilsdorf.com, Twitter @ethanfreak.


  • Essay
  • Literary Journalism
  • Memoir
  • Non-Fiction
  • Publishing & Promotion

Not to Miss

Upcoming Classes See all of Ethan's Classes

Consulting Services

  • Manuscript Review
  • Memoir
  • Personal Essay
  • In-Person Sessions
Request Consultation

Rate: $105/hour

Ethan's Works

  • Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks

    “What does it mean to be a geek? . . . Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks tackles that question with strength and dexterity. . . . part personal odyssey, part medieval mid-life crisis, and part wide-ranging survey of all things freaky and geeky ... playful ... funny and poignant ... It's a fun ride and it poses a question that goes to the very heart of fantasy, namely: What does the urge to become someone else tell us about ourselves?” —Huffington Post

    Type: Book

  • "The Day My Mother Became a Stranger"

    After a sudden aneurysm, Ethan Gilsdorf’s mother was transformed. Almost 37 years later, the author searches for answers. Published in Boston Magazine.

    Type: Article

  • "How to Prepare for A Difficult Conversation"

    A hermit crab essay published in Brevity magazine.

    Type: Article

  • "ChatGPT’s Storytelling Chops Are No Match for Dungeons & Dragons"

    Generative AI is already being tapped to write books, but it struggles with basic narrative. Just look at what happens when you make one a dungeon master. Published in Wired magazine.

    Type: Article


    A conversation between Ethan Gilsdorf and ChatGPT. Published in Electric Literature.

    Type: Article