Creative Writing Course Descriptions—FALL 2014

CRW 285. Poetry Workshop (Professor Amy Catanzano)
Tuesdays 2-4:30 p.m.

In this beginning poetry workshop, students are given practical grounding as well as an exploratory space to experiment with a diverse range of approaches to writing poetry. An immersion into the craft of poetry writing, this course emphasizes attentiveness to the textures of language and the multiplicity of forms available to writers of poetry. Students provide feedback on the poetry of their peers and receive feedback in the workshop portion of the course. Students read contemporary poetry, engage in writing exercises, and write poetry from varied modes, from the intense and rigorous to the relaxed, speculative, and playful. Students gain experience in using literary devices such as metaphor, simile, alliteration, assonance, enjambment, and symbolism. We will explore autobiographical or post-confessional poetry; aleatoric (chance-based) approaches to writing poetry; documentary poetry; conceptual poetry; eco-poetics; poetry that uses traditional forms and meters; poetry that is abstract or resists linguistic meaning; poetry that is realistic or representational; neo-surrealist poetry; poetry that works with principles from the natural sciences; visual poetry; sound poetry; digital poetry; poetry that imaginatively investigates culture, race, class, and gender; and cross-genre writing. Students must be willing to be innovative, take risks with their poetry, and go beyond their perceived previous limits. Students attend two literary readings outside of class time. The final manuscript consists of a final portfolio of revised poetry (15 to 20 pages). A celebratory reading of student work takes place at the end of the semester.

CRW 286. Short Story Workshop (Professor Joanna Ruocco)

Wednesdays 2:00-4:30 p.m.

This workshop focuses on the craft of fiction writing and introduces students to a range of narrative strategies from a variety of aesthetic traditions. We’ll discuss the elements of story—character, point of view, plot, tone, dialogue, scene, etc—and read fiction that provides multiple perspectives on each. We will consider how we approach both “traditional” and “innovative” texts. How (and why) do we distinguish between fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose? We’ll read minimalist, realist, fabulist, postmodern, surrealist, new narrative, and hybrid works, while thinking critically about the literary usefulness and the limitations of genre labels. Over the semester, students will complete a variety of writing assignments.  The assignments are designed to provide them with a multiplicity of ways to construct narrative and will be discussed in class where students will receive supportive feedback from their colleagues.  The goal of the class is for each student to learn more about her/himself as a reader and writer, to practice the craft of fiction writing, to build a critical vocabulary to talk about narrative elements and genres (and to negotiate his/her own relationship to these terms), and to find new apertures into the creative process. By the end of the class, students will have collected and revised a portfolio that should provide them with exciting, varied material for further writing projects.

CRW 383. Theory and Practice of Poetry Writing (Professor Amy Catanzano)
Wednesdays 2:00-4:30 p.m.

This course is an advanced poetry workshop that builds on methods explored in the beginning poetry workshop. It offers students the opportunity to combine the writing of poetry with literary and aesthetic inquiries about poetics—the frames and theories informing the practice of poetry writing—that will bring further complexity and intention to their own work. We start from the notion that every poem has an implied or overt poetics and that writing poetry is an investigative process. Our goal is to create a collaborative space where, in addition to writing poems, students reflect on the personal, philosophical, cultural, and political implications of working with language as an artistic practice. 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 respond to current conversations about poetry and poetics. Students also attend two literary readings outside of class time and become familiar with print and online literary journals. For the course’s capstone project, students bind copies of their revised poetry (20 to 25 pages) in an edition to share with family, friends, and others in a chapbook-making session with a visiting book artist. A celebratory reading of student work takes place at the end of the semester. Pre-req: CRW 285 or POI. (Elective in English major)

CRW 384. Playwriting (Professor Andrews)

Tuesday/Thursday 2:00-3:15 p.m.

Description not available

CRW 398. Advanced Fiction Writing (Professor Joanna Ruocco)

Thursdays 2:00-4:30 p.m.

This class is designed to generate new writing and to help students expand and revise existing work with the benefit of informed peer feedback. In addition, we will read books of fiction published by early career writers since 2000. As members of the classroom and program community, we will resist instinctively inscribing our own affinities into workshop pieces and instead attempt to pose questions that take into consideration the goals and interests of each individual writer. Some general questions we will consider when responding to both course readings and to our own work: What is the relation between the author and text? What is the relation between the text and the outside world? What processes and procedures are used in the writing? How are various subjectivities/identities marked, performed, complicated, or otherwise considered? How does this text situate itself in terms of genre? How explicitly does the author respond to the immediate writerly community and readerly audience? What is this author’s conception of “the book”? How does technology affect the creation and reception of narratives? What lineages is the writer/book claiming (and perhaps rejecting)? What theoretical or political concerns inform the writing? As a class, we will come up with additional questions. The course texts are by no means an aesthetic demarcation or ideal for the class, but they do suggest a number of directions in contemporary fiction. Students are encouraged to experiment with various narrative modes over the course of the semester. (Prerequisite for this course is ENG 286 or CRW 286.) (Elective in the Major)