MFA Course Descriptions
CRW 501-001: RESEARCH FOR CREATIVE WRITERS, GERARD P
Research is a creative process in its own right that not only helps authenticate a piece of writing but also can yield new possibilities for projects in all genres. We will explore not only the conventional tools of research-- e.g. the interview and the print archive-- but more imaginative and unconventional methods of finding out public or personal information that yields exciting creative opportunities. Each student will design a research agenda tailored to his or her work in progress. Such work may be new to the class or a continuation of a project already begun. Our focus will be both practical and aestheticClass sessions will include discussion of methods, planning, and reporting on the progress of various research activities. Each student will present a final project-- a partial or completed manuscript, depending on genre and scope -- that incorporates research conducted during the course. Such a ms. might be a cycle of poems, a portion of a novel, a short story, a personal essay, or some other form determined in consultation with the instructor.
CRW 524-001: ECOTONE LITERARY MAGAZINE, PHILLIPS A
[Permission of instructor required.] 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 one of a set of print literary magazines and will follow one online-only magazine. 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 MAGAZINE, WILSON H
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, search for possible cover art, and assist with design work. 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. We will 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: SPECIAL TOPICS: COPYEDITING, PHILLIPS A
This course provides a thorough introduction to the art and craft of copyediting, a skill useful on the job market as well as in substantive editing of both others’ and one’s own work. We will focus on editing for magazine and book publishers—and will thus spend a good deal of time with the Chicago Manual of Style—but we will also consider other settings for copyediting. In addition to marking copy by hand and on screen, we will explore how to create and maintain collegial relationships throughout the editing process, with the goal of improving proficiency in what Carol Fisher Saller calls “working through the writer for the reader.” We will consider levels of editing; freelance and in-house editorial processes; making and using style sheets; effective use of style guides; and the finer points of grammar and usage. Students will be evaluated via quizzes (including editing tests similar to those given by publishers), editing projects, and a final portfolio. Texts: The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition; The Copyeditor’s Handbook, 3rd edition, by Amy Einsohn; The Subversive Copyeditor, by Carol Fisher Saller.
CRW 530-001: SCREENWRITING, HACKLER C
This course is an introduction to the art and craft of screenwriting. Students will develop an original story idea, create a plot outline, and write and revise the first act of a feature screenplay. The course will cover such topics as characterization, goal, conflict, and dramatic structure, and will include a series of exercises designed to help you develop and write motion picture scripts.
CRW 542-001: 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. 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 nine 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 choosing.
CRW 542-002: BOOK LENGTH POETRY, MESSER S
The second-half of a year-long course, run as a workshop, focusing on your own writing. This second-half will focus on shaping, revising, and polishing a completed manuscript. At the end of the semester we will also discuss where to send out your book and how contests, presses, etc. work for poets.
CRW 542-003: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP with visiting writer A. Van Jordan (1 credit)
CRW 543-001: FORMS OF POETRY, WHITE M
To some extent, this course will proceed as a tour of major received forms and traditions. As a way of studying both English language and international received forms such as blank verse, the sonnet, the ghazal and the pantoum, we will read poems and essays, and then write original poems and prose in response. Although each student will master prosody and write distinctively and successfully in each form, this class will not be about learning the “rules,” but about how to understand, assimilate, and cultivate some of the magical properties of poetic form in one’s own writing. Each student will write six poems in six different poetic forms (to be workshopped in class), as well as a craft essay on a poetic tradition of your choice.
CRW 544-001: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, SACHS D
Through close reading of published fiction and in-depth analysis of individual student work, this class will focus on both the creation of new fiction and the task of revising it. Students will submit two pieces of fiction, either short stories or selections from novels, which the class will then discuss in a workshop setting. The semester will culminate in students submitting a substantial revision of one of these pieces.
CRW 544-002: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, LEE R
CRW 545-001: FORMS OF CREATIVE NONFICTION BRENNER, W
This is a reading & discussion course (an elective, not a writing workshop) in which we will explore narrative methods, strategies, decisions, effects, etc. in recently published creative nonfiction and some documentary films, with an eye toward how we might borrow and incorporate techniques in our own work.We’ll focus primarily on memoir, autobiography, and biography (both short- and long-form), though many of the texts we’ll consider don’t fall easily into any category. Books will include Was This Man A Genius? (Julie Hecht), Truth & Beauty: A Friendship (Ann Patchett), Autobiography of a Face (Lucy Grealy), Goat (Brad Land), The Orchid Thief (Susan Orlean), Pulphead (John Jeremiah Sullivan), The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup (Susan Orlean), Working (Studs Terkel), and Edie: An American Girl (Jean Stein and George Plimpton). Films may include Moving Midway, Capturing The Friedmans, Catfish, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and various Errol Morris selections. Students will write one long personal essay in response to the course materials, due at semester’s end.
CRW 547-001: FORMS OF FICTION, DE GRAMONT N
In this course, we will read and discuss novels with attention to content and style, paying particular attention to the way long form fiction has evolved over the years. Students will write responses analyzing the novels in terms of craft and also write short creative exercises responding to the novels.
CRW 548-002: WORKSHOP, WRITING THE NOVEL II, EDGERTON C
The is the second semester of a two-semester course. By the end of this semester you will have a draft of a novel or nonfiction book (if you already have a first draft—a later draft).Among potential class activities--in addition to workshopping chapters and scenes are:discussing your novel’s plot, scenes, characters, and theme;discussions of literary theory;discussion of technique in fiction;discussions of readings;dramatic reading of scenes.
CRW 550-002: GRADUATE WORKSHOP IN CREATIVE NONFICTION, BRENNER W
This is a traditional workshop-format course in which student work is our primary text. Students will hand in a minimum of two pieces of creative nonfiction (essays, chapters, excerpts) for discussion, critique, and/or conference w/ instructor. I am especially interested in the potential and possibilities of your work, and in locating those moments that feel most urgent and unforgettable for the reader, what makes an editor have no choice but to publish it, what makes a piece of writing feel alive and full of heart. We will also read recently published short works of creative nonfiction, distributed in class. Goals in the class are two-fold: to provide feedback, mentoring, and support for individual students and their projects, and to illuminate issues of narrative craft, form, and technique in general.
CRW 550-003: CREATIVE NONFICTION WRITING WORKSHOP with visiting writer Hope Edelman (1 credit)
CRW 560-001,-002: PUBLISHING PRACTICUM: LOOKOUT, 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 small literary press and provides hands-on experience in evaluating manuscripts, copyediting, proofreading, designing book covers and interiors, publicity, social media, marketing,grant writing,and producing promotional materials for the imprint. MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.