Creative Writing Courses – Spring 2014

CRW 285-A.         Poetry Workshop                                    Professor Elisabeth Whitehead

WF 2:00-3:15        (19390)

“To discover the mode of life or of art whereby your spirit could express itself in unfettered freedom.”  --James Joyce

An immersion into the writing and reading of poetry, this class will function as both a seminar and a workshop.  In our readings and discussions, we will begin to explore the richness of textures and multiplicity of voices working today in contemporary poetry.  In addition to close readings of established poets, we will also engage in respectful and thoughtful conversation of each other’s works.  Because writing is usually a solitary act, this will be a chance to rejoin through community.  Exercises and experiments in writing will be conducted with an eye to “unfetter,” to help you explore a variety of styles and practices that might be best suited to your own individuality.  Show up with a willingness to delve into the uniqueness of your own voice and support others who are doing the same.  We will hopefully be left with new ways of seeing the poem and the means to keep moving ahead as writers.     

CRW 286-A.        Short Story Workshop                         Professor Amy Catanzano

Thurs 2:00-4:30        (19392)

This beginning short story workshop introduces students to the craft of traditional and experimental narrative writing as well as to the hybrid spaces between narrative approaches where storytelling meets metafiction, surrealist play, poetry, the lyric essay, and other permeable formal boundaries. We cover literary elements such as point-of-view, structure, tone, characterization, pacing, plot, etc. from a diverse range of perspectives and aesthetics. Students critique the writing of their peers and receive critiques in the workshop portion of the course. They also attend at least one literary reading outside of class time and become familiar with contemporary print and electronic literary journals. Students read contemporary short fiction, discuss what other writers say about the craft of writing fiction, write exercises to strengthen their investigations of craft, and write two short stories or a series of linked, short narrative works (10-12 pages each on average). A celebratory reading of student work takes place at the end of the semester. Course materials (subject to change) may include ParaSpheres: Fabulist and New Wave Fabulist Stories (Omnidawn, 2006), 30 Under 30: An Anthology of Innovative Fiction by Younger Writers (Starcherone Books, 2011), and work by Ben Marcus, Renee Gladman, Kate Bernheimer, Johannes Göransson, Sina Queyras, and Bhanu Kapil, among others.

CRW 383-A.        Theory and Practice of Poetry Writing                Professor Amy Catanzano

Tues 2:00-4:30        (19391)

 

This course is an advanced poetry workshop, building on methods explored in the beginning poetry workshop. Students critique the writing of their peers and receive critiques in the workshop portion of the course. Students read contemporary poetry, experiment with a range of approaches to writing poetry, and go further in the study of poetry writing by responding to current trends in poetry and literary theories on poetics. Students engage in writing exercises and present on the assigned course materials. They also attend at least one literary reading outside of class time and become familiar with contemporary print and electronic literary journals. In a chapbook-making session, students bind copies of their final manuscript, which consists of revised poetry (25 to 30 pages on average) accompanied by a 3 to 5 page critical introduction, in an edition to share with family, friends, and others. A celebratory reading of student work takes place at the end of the semester. Course materials (subject to change) may include work by Amaranth Borsuk, Mathew Timmons, Rae Armantrout, M. NourbeSe Philip, Michael Palmer, Tina Brown Celona, Lyn Hejinian, Christian Bök, a. rawlings, Nathaniel Mackey, Jerome Rothenberg, George Quasha, Laura Mullen, Shanxing Wang, and Geof Huth, among others. Supplementary materials provided include audio files of poetry readings from PennSound and UbuWeb’s Visual Poetry section, edited by Derek Beaulieu.  Pre-req: CRW 285 or POI.

CRW 397-A.        Creative Non-Fiction                                 Professor Eric Wilson

Thurs 3:30-6:00         (19394)

In this writing-intensive course, we will explore the practice and theory of creative nonfiction.  This genre encompasses memoir, the personal essay, literary journalism, travel writing, and science writing.  Works of creative nonfiction differ from fiction in that they aspire to be faithful to fact, whether subjective or objective; and they diverge from most nonfiction—such as traditional journalism and academic writing—insofar as they are self-consciously literary, attuned to issues like plot, character development, symbolism,  and style.  Creative nonfiction attempts to report accurately as well as aesthetically.  

Objectives

Through weekly writing workshops and discussions of appropriate texts, we will improve our skills as writers of creative nonfiction, enhance our critical reading abilities, and learn about the nature of creative nonfiction and its subgenres.

Texts

Joan Didion, White Album (FSG Classics)

Phillip Lopate, The Art of the Personal Essay (Anchor)

Dinty W. Moore, Crafting The Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative

             Non-Fiction (Reader’s Digest Books)

CRW 398-A.         Advanced Fiction Writing                         Professor Aimee Mepham

W 3:30-6:00        (19393)

“The type of mind that can understand good fiction is not necessarily the educated mind, but it is at all times the kind of mind that is willing to have its sense of mystery deepened by contact with reality, and its sense of reality deepened by contact with mystery.”  ― Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose

This writing-intensive course explores the intersections of reality and mystery in short fiction that Flannery O’Connor identifies through reading contemporary texts, experimenting with writing exercises, and developing critical reading skills in weekly workshop discussions. Advanced Fiction Writing builds on the preliminary discussion of the short story opened in the beginning fiction workshop. Our conversations will continue to examine the elements of fiction (point of view, character, conflict, plot, setting), but students will be asked to further challenge themselves as writers, to break away from comfortable writing styles, to consider new voices, and to delve deeper into the mystery of the creative process. Pre-Req: CRW 286 or POI.