MFA Course Descriptions
CRW 503-001: CREATIVE WRITING PEDAGOGY, BRENNER W
This course doubles as pedagogy seminar and the weekly staff meeting for new teaching assistants (GTA and DIS) teaching CRW 201. The course provides you with a wealth of materials and resources for your teaching career here at UNCW and beyond. Class meetings serve as a forum in which to share and address your ongoing teaching experiences, questions, successes, and challenges. Occasional guest speakers will include experienced TAs and professors. We will also read and discuss a range of articles about pedagogical theory and methods, with an eye toward developing your own teaching philosophy and methodology. You will write one personal essay at semester’s end, reflecting on both your 201 experience and your ideas for future classes.
CRW 523-001: BOOKBUILDING, STAPLES B
This course offers intensive hands-on training in book design and production using desktop publishing technologies. Students develop skills through a progressively more complex series of projects, culminating in a finished chapbook of their own work, in a small edition (which they take with them, along with completed digital files of their work for later reprinting). Students should gain from this course basic software skills, a heightened design aesthetic, and an understanding of how books are built and produced, manuscript to bookshelf.
CRW 524-001,-004: ECOTONE LITERARY MAGAZINE, PHILLIPS A
[Please write Anna Lena Phillips for permission to register for this course.] This is a practical course in the publication of our national literary journal, Ecotone. The coursework will consist of reading submissions and becoming part of an editorial team that will put out an issue of the magazine. We will concern ourselves with the business of running a magazine, including editorial, production, and some design, as well as marketing and grants research. We will divide ourselves into smaller teams early in the semester, based on genre. Everyone will be responsible for reading a number of manuscripts per week, and for contributing to the ongoing practical business of the magazine. In addition, each student will subscribe to and review one of a set of print literary magazines and will follow and review one online-only magazine. There may be the opportunity to write for the Ecotone blog. Recommended texts: Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition; The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.
CRW 524-002,-003: CHAUTAUQUA LITERARY MAGAZINE, GERARD P
[Permission of Instructor Required] This course is designed to give students a practical magazine publishing experience. Students will read and respond to submissions, work on a developmental editing projects, assist and participate in design process, and act as team leaders, mentoring undergraduate students. In addition to the work required to build the next issue of Chautauqua, students will have the opportunity to work on marketing and sales projects. Students work in teams – with each group presenting regular updates on their projects and work. Course may be repeated for credit. Variable credit (1 to 3 hours) possible for graduate students.
CRW 525-001: THE BUSINESS OF BEING A WRITER, SMITH E
This course offers writers an introduction to literary publishing in the 21st century. Rather than dividing the art from the business, we’ll explore how each informs the other, and how writers have proven savvy at making a living from their art. We’ll begin by studying the stages in publishing a book, as well as related issues in the field—the conglomeratization of the industry and burgeoning of small presses, the current book-buying marketplace, creative promotions, libel and copyright, and contracts and royalty structures, among other topics. We’ll then develop strategies for building your platform: establishing a website and social network, submitting essays and stories to quality magazines, writing for digital media, and giving readings and talks, as well as other meaningful ways to engage your target audience. Finally, we’ll review sample proposals and pitch letters. Each student will develop a draft of his or her own book proposal, or a query letter and sample chapters, as well as a list of prospective agents and presses. Applying your newly gained knowledge, you’ll help evaluate the viability of each class member’s proposal and offer thoughtful feedback. Industry professionals will join us as guests throughout the semester.
CRW 525-002: SPECIAL TOPICS IN PUBLISHING—MARKETING & PUBLICITY,
with visiting publishing professional Michael Taeckens
[1-credit course to be offered in September]
This course is designed to give students an in-depth look at the ins and outs of marketing and promoting books. Students will follow the lifespan of a book's publication process from the beginning of a marketing campaign through the end of a publicity campaign, and will get hands-on experience working on individual and group projects. We'll cover the fundamentals of marketing and publicity: how they differ and overlap, how they fit within the publishing infrastructure, how they've changed over time, and how they are instrumental in spreading buzz. Additionally, we'll explore the marketing and publicity campaigns of various books, including Lookout's Honey from the Lion as a primary model, as well as Graywolf'sThe Empathy Exams and Riverhead's The Girl on the Train, among others. Marketing and publicity directors from various presses will participate in discussions with us via Skype.
CRW 540-001: WRITERS’ WEEK FALL 2015, GESSNER D
This one-credit intensive course was designed to complement Writers’ Week. This year Writers’ Week will feature writers from Ecotone and this class will have an emphasis on writing from place, including some writing exercises focused on place. But most of the work will be practical and focused on preparation for the week, which will consist of workshop sessions, panels, readings, and an individual manuscript conference with one of the seven visiting writers who will be in residence. BFA students will conference with MFA program students or alumni. Students will meet to familiarize themselves with the work of our visiting writers and to learn the ins and outs of organizing the week. As a group, we are responsible for keeping the week itself running smoothly. Class members will participate in the many facets of the week, from introducing the writers at readings to driving them around town. Students are expected to attend a total of 10 event-hours over the course of the symposium.
CRW 542-001: WRITER AS TRANSLATOR: A POETRY TRANSLATION WORKSHOP, MÖRLING M
Octavio Paz said: “Translation is an art of analogy, the art of finding correspondences. An art of shadows and echoes…” Charles Baudelaire said that poetry is essentially analogy. The idea of universal correspondence comes from the idea that language is a micro cosmos, a double of the universe. Between the language of the universe and the universe of language, there is a bridge, a link: poetry. The poet, says Baudelaire, is the translator.”
In this class we will read and compare multiple translations of single poems and examine the choices and strategies of translation. In addition, each student in the class will also provide weekly contributions of his or her own translation of given poems and passages of prose. These translations will serve as focal points for the larger subject of translation, that of the writer as translator. Readings will include selections from Swedish, German, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Eastern European, Spanish and South American poets and writers. Knowledge of a second language is welcome but not necessary.
CRW 542-002: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP, COX M
Though it is essentially a craft-oriented workshop wherein poets will critique and encourage each other's work, I am also planning to make room for a number of in-class writing exercises, many based on imitation. I will tailor these exercises in process and revision to the group’s needs. I will provide individualized reading lists. Student products will include a portfolio of eight finished poems, plus revision drafts. The journal will consist of: a) responses to reading assignments in modern and contemporary poetry and poetics; b) process exercises; and c) extensive research into a craft concept of your choice.
CRW 543-001: FORMS OF POETRY, WHITE M
This course will be a tour of some of the major forms of poetry. We will study both English language and international received forms such as blank verse, the sonnet, the ghazal, and the pantoum, and then write poems in response. Although I’d like for each student to master prosody and write distinctively and successfully in each form, this class will not be about learning the “rules,” but about how to understand and cultivate some of the magical properties of each poetic form in one’s own writing. Expectations will include writing several poems in various traditions, including a poem in open or experimental form, as well as a short presentation and short (5 page) essay on a poetic tradition of your choice.
CRW 544-001: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, LEE R
CRW 544-002: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, GERARD P
CRW 546-001: WORKSHOP LONG FORM NARRATIVE I, EDGERTON C
First semester of two semester course and goal is to have draft of fiction or nonfiction book by end of second semester. Timelines and due pages will be designed on an individual basis, but expect something in the line of 20 – 30 pages a month. Among potential class and individual activities--in addition to workshopping chapters and scenes: 1) discussing your book’s plot, scenes, characters, and theme, 2) discussions of literary theory, 3) discussion of technique in fiction and nonfiction, 4) discussions of readings (from among other books, Paris Review Interviews, Mystery and Manners, Civilization and Its Discontents), 5) dramatic reading of scenes.
CRW 547-001: FORMS OF FICTION, DE GRAMONT M
From News to Novel. In this class we will read novels based on actual events and people. Books such as Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld, The Giants House by Elizabeth McCracken, and Cape Fear Rising by Philip Gerard will be on the syllabus. We will explore how our imaginations can expand and deepen a reader’s understanding of events, and discuss what kind of liberties an author can take when turning truth into fiction. Students will also conceive of and develop their own idea for a novel based on an event or person that fascinates them.
CRW 550-001: WORKSHOP CREATIVE NONFICTION, CHAI M
In this workshop, students will have the opportunity to explore the rich possibilities of creative nonfiction in multiple forms. Students will receive feedback on their original works of creative nonfiction in a traditional workshop format. We will also discuss and analyze works by established writers of literary journalism, memoir, personal essays, lyric essays and other works to look at technique, aesthetics, and narrative choices. In addition to writing exercises and critique letters, students will turn in two original works of creative nonfiction and one significant revision.
CRW 550-002: WORKSHOP IN CREATIVE NONFICTION, FURIA P
Students will write and workshop two original essays or chapters in any genre of creative nonfiction—memoir, lyric essay, biography, nature writing, etc. One work must involve research (library, archival, and/or internet) and interviews with at least two people. Students will also write a “pitch” letter to a literary agent about one of the pieces or the larger work from which it comes.
CRW 560-001,-002: PUBLISHING PRACTICUM: LOOKOUT BOOKS, SMITH E
[Prerequisite: CRW 523 and permission of instructor.] A select group of graduate students supports the work of Lookout Books (www.lookout.org). The practical course functions primarily as an internship at a boutique literary press and provides hands-on experience in evaluating manuscripts, copyediting, proofreading, designing book interiors and pitching cover concepts, publicity planning, marketing, social media management, grant writing, and production of promotional materials for the imprint. [MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.]
CRW 580-001: FOOD WRITING, SIEGEL R
What are we talking about when we talk about food—and cooking, and eating, and feeding others? This course will sample a range of fiction and nonfiction exploring that vast and complicated subject. Possibilities include A.J. Liebling, Ruth Reichl, M.F.K Fischer, Isek Dinesen, Margaret Atwood, Ma Jian (The Noodle Maker), David Wong Louie (The Barbarians Are Coming), Jim Crace (The Devil’s Larder), and John Lanchester (The Debt to Pleasure). There will be one major creative project and possibly other short assignments, but the emphasis will be on fast-paced, rigorous reading and discussion.
CRW 580-002: GRAPHIC NOVEL, GESSNER D
The main goals of this class are to give you an overview of the genre of graphic novels and to give you a language to discuss this emerging form. To achieve these goals we will read from a broad, though admittedly far from comprehensive, range of graphic novels. Secondarily, we will work on our own graphic projects. It should be stressed that no art background is required for this. Stick figures are okay.
CRW 524-001,-003,-004: ECOTONE LITERARY MAGAZINE, PHILLIPS A L
Permission of instructor required. This is a practical course in the publication of our national literary journal, Ecotone. The coursework consists of reading submissions and becoming part of an editorial team that will put out an issue of the magazine. We will divide ourselves into smaller teams early in the semester, based on genre. Everyone will be responsible for reading a number of manuscripts per week, and for contributing to the ongoing practical business of the magazine in the realms of editorial, production, marketing, research, and some design. Students will also have the opportunity to write posts for the Ecotone/Lookout Books blog. In addition, we will cultivate an understanding of where Ecotone sits in the literary landscape: students will read and review at least one prior issue of Ecotone, subscribe to and review a print literary magazine, and follow and review an online-only magazine. Ecotone student editors should register for 524-003. Recommended texts: Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition; The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.
CRW 524-002: CHAUTAUQUA LITERARY JOURNAL (1-3 credits), GERARD P
This course is designed to give students a practical magazine publishing experience. Students will read and respond to submissions, work on editing and fact-checking, tackle marketing/sales issues, and provide leadership for an undergraduate team. Each team will present regular updates on their projects and work. Course may be repeated for credit.
CRW 525-001: DEVELOPMENTAL EDITING (SPECIAL TOPICS IN PUBLISHING), PHILLIPS A LThis course provides an introduction to the art and craft of developmental editing, a skill useful on the job market as well as in improving one’s own writing. We will focus on editing for nonfiction, fiction, and poetry for magazine and book publishers. Topics will include proposal development, narrative, argument, and voice, as well as editing for style and substantive editing at the line level. We will explore how to create and maintain collegial relationships throughout the editing process, and work to gain an understanding of how developmental editing fits within the publishing process overall. Students will be evaluated via individual and group editing projects and a final portfolio. Course texts will include Developmental Editing, by Scott Norton, and the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition.
CRW 542-001: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP, WHITE M
This will be a hybrid workshop offering instruction, support, and dialogue in the craft of writing and revising poems. The course will adopt an ekphrastic theme, although the term will be taken broadly. We’ll read and write poems and/or other forms that are inspired not only by paintings, but also by film, sculpture, and other arts. The emphasis will be to see, to engage, to hold aesthetic discourse, and we’ll move beyond the workshop to include museum and studio visits, film viewings, and a public reading. Grade will be based 50% on a final portfolio of finished work and 50% on participation.
CRW 542-002: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP, MORLING M
In this poetry workshop we will focus on the process of writing, the different ways of analyzing a poem and on how to listen with an open mind to a critique of your own work. We will focus on the process of revision and discuss the many approaches and ways to revise a poem. Is it possible for instance, to approach a revision the way one would a translation? How do you transform a poem without destroying its urgency and original spirit? How do you arrive at a poem in its ultimate form? Everyone is required to submit a raw and freshly written poem every week. The aim of this class is also for everyone to learn to become comfortable bringing in poems that are rough without making excuses for them.
CRW 542-002: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP with Aimee Nezhukumatahil (1 credit)
CRW 544-001: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, EDGERTON C
CRW 544-002: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, DE GRAMONT M
In this class, students will work on craft through close reading of each other’s fiction in a workshop format. Students will write two new and original pieces for workshop and revise one of these pieces substantially. Reading assignments will be based on issues that arise during workshops.
CRW 545-001: FORMS OF CREATIVE NONFICTION, CHAI M
In this class, we will be reading multiple forms of creative nonfiction in order to explore the exciting and varied possibilities of the genre. We will be reading personal essays, narrative journalism/research literary nonfiction, memoir, graphic memoir, lyric essays, and prose poetry. We may also examine several documentary films. This class will primarily focus on reading and discussing the assigned works in depth. There will be a few short writing exercises so that students may write creative responses as well as a reading responses that critically analyze the works and a final essay. Writers studied include Alison Bechdel, Sherman Alexie, Maxine Chernoff, Donna de la Perrière, Joan Didion, Mahvish Kahn, Jamaica Kincaid, David Sedaris, and Patti Smith, among others.
CRW 547-001: FORMS OF FICTION, LEE R
CRW 548-001: WRITING THE NOVEL II, GERARD P
This course builds on the foundation laid by CRW 546: Writing the Novel I.* The goal is for each member of workshop to produce a solid beginning of a viable novel (fiction or nonfiction) then to exploit that beginning with several chapters of lively, original writing that advances the story and its themes– both text and subtext. Whether this particular novel ultimately succeeds or fails, the goal is to get far enough along in this course that the writer can and will finish it, thus learning how to handle the arc, scope, and scale of the long form of narrative prose. Each writer in class will hand in working drafts of the opening chapter (s) and at least one other significant passage from the novel-in-progress. There is no precise word count, but shoot for something in the neighborhood of 10,000- 15,000 words (40-50 pages) total. Attached to the first handout should be your one-sentence logline of the main focus of the novel. Each student will also turn in two copies of signed, written comments– one to the author whose work is under discussion, the other to the instructor.
*A student who has not taken 546 may enroll with instructor’s permission; please contact instructor prior to the end of Fall semester.
CRW 550-001: GRADUATE WORKSHOP IN CREATIVE NONFICTION, GESSNER D
The theme of this workshop is “Just Write.” We are going to focus on putting pen to page, with minimal reading and maximum time spent actually writing. To this end one hour of each class will be dedicated to either writing prompts or individual writing projects, with a maximum of two workshops per class. We will keep track of our weekly output through recording either our hours or page production. There will be reading but it will be self-assigned, with a focus on books that can serve as models and/or inspirations.
CRW 550-002: GRADUATE WORKSHOP IN CREATIVE NONFICTION, HOLMAN V
In this workshop-based class, students will submit two new works of creative nonfiction. Creative nonfiction is a flexible form, and submissions may include memoir, lyric/hybrid forms, familiar essay, reportage, etc. Workshops will address issues of craft as well as hidden possibilities. The instructor will provide short readings throughout the semester that address specific issues of craft, and offer exercises to encourage new work and experimentation.
CRW 550-003: GRADUATE WORKSHOP IN CREATIVE NONFICTION with Patricia Hample (1 credit)
CRW 560-001,-002: PUBLISHING PRACTICUM: LOOKOUT BOOKS, SMITH E
[Prerequisite: CRW 523 and permission of instructor.] A select group of graduate students supports the work of Lookout Books (www.lookout.org). The practical course functions primarily as an internship at a boutique literary press and provides hands-on experience in evaluating manuscripts, copyediting, proofreading, designing book interiors and pitching cover concepts, publicity, social media management, marketing, grant writing, and producing promotional materials for the imprint. [MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.]
CRW 580-001: BORDER CROSSINGS: CONTEMPORARY TRAVEL WRITING, SIEGEL R
What is travel writing? How do we define it? Does travel have to be geographic, for example? Or can it be cultural or social—vertical, rather than horizontal? This course explores travel writing of the last thirty years, with particular interest in the way boundaries blur and aesthetic strategies multiply as the genre explodes outward in a globalizing world. Readings include fiction and nonfiction by Ben Lerner, Nell Freudenberger, Pico Iyer, Liao Yiwu, and others. One creative project.
CRW 580-003: NARRATIVE METHODS IN FILM, BRENNER W
In this course we will spend the great majority of our time watching and discussing films, primarily but not exclusively documentaries, focusing on how their narratives (stories) are shaped, how narrators and characters earn our sympathy (or not), and other issues relevant to writing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. We'll also read playwright Sarah Ruhl's new book,100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write. One personal essay due at semester’s end. Films will likely include the following: Capturing The Friedmans, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, Moving Midway, The Eyes of Tammy Faye,The Red Shoes, A Matter of Life and Death, Altman’s Three Women, De Palma’s Sisters, and Errol Morris’s Fast, Cheap, & Out of Control. Note: This course is as an elective, not a workshop. The course does not include screenwriting.