Creative Writing

MFA Course Descriptions

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Click here for the 2016-17 graduate catalogue course descriptions.


Spring 2017


CRW 524-001 (3), -003 (2), and -004 (1) Ecotone LITERARY MAGAZINE, PHILLIPS BELL A L
[Permission of instructor required. Please write Anna Lena Phillips Bell for permission to register.] This is a practical course in the publication of Ecotone, the national literary magazine that seeks to reimagine place. The coursework consists of reading submissions and becoming part of an editorial team that will put out an issue of the magazine. 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. In addition, we will cultivate an understanding of where Ecotone sits in the literary landscape. Everyone will read and review at least one prior issue of Ecotone, and will subscribe to two print literary magazines and follow one online magazine, choosing one of these to review. We will also write for the Ecotone/Lookout Books blog. In spring 2017, applications will be accepted for the positions of poetry editor and nonfiction editor. Required texts: Subscriptions to two literary magazines from approved list. Recommended texts: Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition; The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. Current Ecotone editors register for 524-003/004; for all others, the course is three credits. MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.

CRW 524-002 (3), CRW 524-005 (1), & CRW 524-006 (2): LITERARY MAGAZINE Chautauqua, DE GRAMONT, M
This course is designed to give students a practical magazine publishing experience. Students will read and respond to submissions, work on developmental and copy-editing and fact-checking, and lead an editorial a team for a specific section. 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, as well as social media. We will work in teams – with each group presenting regular updates on their projects and work. Course may be repeated for credit. 

CRW 525-001: ETHICS AND PRACTICE OF NONFICTION WRITING AND PUBLISHING, PHILLIPS BELL A L
The truth, that increasingly fraught thing, makes for a mess of challenges for writers and publishers of nonfiction. Some are vexing, but many are ultimately generative, providing ways into deeper engagement with our subjects. In this
course, we’ll explore the challenges and nuances of writing and editing essays, memoir, journalism, and other forms of creative nonfiction, from the research and writing process to fact checking, editing, and publicity. We’ll examine the tricky course navigated by writers whose subjects are family, friends, and public figures; how to bring science into creative work in ways that are both accurate and compelling; and how to help other writers—whether as an editor or as a peer—revise toward investing their work with greater humaneness and writerly authority. We will consider some controversial texts, but we’ll spend most of our time and energy on exemplary work, and on challenges students have
encountered, or hope to encounter, in their own writing and editing. Guest speakers will include experts in editing, journalism, and memoir.  

CRW 542-001: GRADUATE POETRY WORKSHOP, WHITE M
The theme is ekphrasis. Students will study ekphrastic poetry along with the art that inspired it. We will write and workshop new poems directly in response to art in museums, galleries, books, and/or online. For our main class project, each student will choose their own artist and write a sequence of ekphrastic poems for workshop. We will schedule museum visits in Washington DC, during the 2017 AWP Conference, for those of us in attendance. Requirements will include a portfolio of new poems, to be turned in at the end of class, with a preface on the art of the selected artist.

CRW 542-003 (1): POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP, with Visiting Writer Jason Mott
Thursdays at 3:30
1/12, 1/19, 1/26 and 2/2/2017

CRW 543-001: FORMS OF POETRY—THE POETRY OF NATURE AND PLACE, GESSNER D
This class will explore seven poets, their work, their lives and their relationship to place and the natural world. We will begin in the 19th century with the life and work of John Keats, then cross the Atlantic to explore the same with Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. During the second half of the class we will focus on the work of four poets whose work is strongly influenced by, and spilling over with, the natural world: Robinson Jeffers, Gary Snyder, A.R. Ammons, and Mary Oliver. We will supplement our reading of the poems with biography and will always keep in mind the question: how are these historic writers relevant to us, and our work, today? We will experiment with a series of imitative exercises. We will also go on several field trips and focus on honing our own observations of the natural world.   

CRW 544-001: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, SIEGEL R
A workshop focused on the reading and discussion of participants’ work. Equal emphasis will be placed on matters of craft and process.  MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.

CRW 544-002: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, LEE R
In this course, writers will work during class.  Each session will include at least 5 escalating writing prompts, each designed to isolate and investigate various aspects of writing-- image, theme, character, language, setting, metaphor, etc.  
Writers should expect to write a lot during class in addition to their regular writing schedule outside of class.  Should work for all genres.  

CRW 545-001: FORMS OF CREATIVE NONFICTION, FURIA P
A study of such formal aspects of creative nonfiction as voice, point of view, and narrative structure. Readings will include both essays and book-length works by such authors as Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and Truman Capote. 

CRW 547-001: FORMS OF FICTION, DE GRAMONT M
Reading the Pulitzer Prize. What makes a piece of fiction stand out so much that it earns one of literature’s highest honors? In this class we will read the winning fiction from 2007-2016 and discuss narrative aspects such as voice, structure, tense, and point of view, as well as discussing the texts we will perform in-class writing exercises related to that week’s reading. Authors include Cormac McCarthy, Elizabeth Strout, Junot Diaz, and Anthony Doerr. 

CRW 548-002: WORKSHOP LONG FORM NARRATIVE II, EDGERTON C
CRW 546 is a prerequisite
Second 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 550-001 (1): CREATIVE NONFICTION WORKSHOP, with Visiting Writer Duncan Murrell
Thursdays at 3:30pm
3/23, 3/30, 4/6 and 4/20/2017

CRW 550-002: WORKSHOP IN CREATIVE NONFICTION, BRENNER W
This is a traditional workshop course in which student work is our primary text.  Students will each hand in two pieces of creative nonfiction (essays, chapters, any form or sub-genre welcome) for workshop discussion and/or conference w/ instructor. I am especially interested in the potential of each piece we consider, what’s on the page and what’s not yet there, and in those moments on the page that feel most urgent, unforgettable, impossible to turn away from. We will read short published works of creative nonfiction and may watch an occasional film excerpt. Goals in the class are two-fold: to provide feedback, mentoring, and support for individual students and their projects, and to illuminate general issues of narrative craft.

CRW 550-001 (1): CREATIVE NONFICTION WORKSHOP, with Visiting Writer Virginia Holman
Thursdays at 3:30pm
2/16, 2/23, 3/2 and 3/16/2017

CRW 560-001, 002: PUBLISHING PRACTICUM: LOOKOUT BOOKS, SMITH E
[Prerequisite: CRW 523 and permission of instructor. Please write Emily Smith for permission to register for this course.] A select group of graduate students supports the work of award-winning literary imprint Lookout Books (www.lookout.org). The practical course functions primarily as an internship at a boutique press and provides hands-on experience in evaluating manuscripts, fact checking, copyediting, proofreading, designing book interiors and pitching cover concepts, developing publicity and marketing plans, managing social media accounts, writing grants, and producing other promotional materials for the imprint. [MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.]

CRW 580-001: SPECULATIVE FICTION—GLOBAL CURRENTS IN WEIRD FICTION, SCI-FI, MAGIC REALISM, AND FANTASY, CHAI M
In this class we will examine the phenomenon of speculative fiction in many forms as a literary tool used by writers around the world to examine and critique their societies using elements of the fantastical and surreal rather than realism. We will be reading and discussing long and short-form literary works as well as narrative film and essays. This seminar is not a workshop but a forms class. Students will have the opportunity to write short creative responses inspired by the works discussed as well as a longer reflection essay. Writers/filmmakers to be examined may include Kevin Barry, Roberto Bolaño, Octavia Butler, A.S. Byatt, Samuel J. Delaney, Kazuo Ishiguro, Han Kang, Ken Liu, Carmen Maria Machado, China Mièville, Haruki Murakami, Helen Oyeyemi, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, Karen Russell, Tsai Ming-liang, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Colson Whitehead, Can Xue, and Charles Yu.

 

MFA Course Descriptions Archive