Creative Writing

MFA Course Descriptions

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Spring 2018

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.] CRW524-001 (three credits) 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 is responsible for reading a number of manuscripts per week, and for contributing to the ongoing 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 landscape of literary magazines. Everyone will read and review at least one prior issue of Ecotone, and will subscribe to two print magazines and follow one online, choosing one of these to review. Reviews may be published on the Ecotone/Lookout Books blog. In spring 2018, applications will be accepted for the positions of managing editor and fiction editor. Required texts: Subscriptions to two literary magazines from approved list; Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition. Recommended text: The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition. Current Ecotone editors should register for 524-003/004; all others register for 524-001. MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.

CRW 524-002 (3), CRW 524-005 (1), & CRW 524-006 (2): LITERARY MAGAZINE Chautauqua, 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, search for possible cover art, and assist with design work to build the next issue of Chautauqua; in addition, each student will provide leadership for an undergraduate team and act as an editing mentor. All write posts for social media. Each team will present regular updates on their projects and work. Optional: Participation in Chautauqua On the Air, a broadcast edition of the journal. Course may be repeated for credit.  

CRW 525-001: THE HANDMADE BOOK, PHILLIPS BELL A L
This ourse offers a hands-on exploration of traditional and experimental practices for book making. Each week, we will learn a new book structure or book-arts technique, beginning with the basics—simple pamphlets and zines—and progressing to such structures as buttonhole books, Coptic binding, and complex folded books. As we experiment with making our own books, we will actively seek out and review both historical and current examples of the craft, investigating the history of book arts in the context of small-press culture. We’ll consider artists’ books, little magazines, tiny-press publishing, broadsides, printed ephemera, visual poetry, altered books and erasures, and other visual forms, all in light of literary practice. We will ask what book arts can offer to the writing process, and to engagement with audiences—both for our own work, and for the work of others we hope to publish. Schedule permitting, we will visit the studio of a letterpress printer or book artist, and guest speakers will broaden our perspective on design principles. The course will include two extended book-arts labs, to occur on Fridays, which will be scheduled at the beginning of the semester. Students will leave the course with a fuller sense of the history of text-image intersections, and with a range of skills and techniques for creating handmade and limited-edition artist books. 

 CRW 530-001: SONGWRITING: THE CREATIVE PROCESS, GERARD P
Songwriting can be a process of distilling themes, events, ideas, and emotions into coherent and memorable forms. It requires compression, focus, and resonance. Short phrases and key words must stand for whole pages of prose. Melody and rhythm infuse lyrics with a creative energy. Song is related to poetry but is not exactly poetry, though some poetry—such as that of Byron, Yeats, and Burns—has been readily set to music.
The aim of this course will not be just to write songs but to use the songwriting process to enhance and open up the writer’s creative process in his or her genre. We’ll examine basic song structures and chord progression, define terms such as “verse,” chorus,” and “bridge” and how they can apply to traditional literary forms as both metaphors and guides to structure. Students will study songs from a variety of genres and then write—alone or in collaboration—original songs. The songs students write will in some way distill, refine, comment upon, enlarge, or be inspired by their work as poets, nonfiction writers, and fiction writers, and they will write short reflections to make the connections explicitly. The aim is not to write “hit” songs but to invigorate and expand their creative process of writing in all genres. We are interested in the process even more than the product.
Note: All students are welcome, even those who don’t sing or play an instrument. You will learn the rudiments of music theory as it applies to songs and those with musical experience will help those without. Near the end of the semester, we will record one song from each student in the class in a professional recording studio. There is no fee for this. 

CRW 530-002: SCREENWRITING, HACKLER F
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—TRANSLATION, 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 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. These translations will serve as focal points for the larger subject of translation, that of the poet as translator. Readings will include selections from Swedish, German, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Eastern European, Spanish and South American poets. Knowledge of a second language is welcome but not necessary.

CRW 542-002: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP—BOOK LENGTH, WHITE M
In this year-long poetry workshop, we’ll focus on the collection, in anticipation of your MFA thesis. We’ll turn our attention toward the chapbook as an art form, and will read several examples. Meanwhile, you’ll be generating and workshopping individual poems that fit your developing manuscript. Finally, we will workshop your full collections and work together as peer editors to polish and help complete your vision. Note: as this is a year-long class, students should plan to enroll in both the fall and the spring semesters.

CRW 542-003 (1): POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP, with Visiting Writer Patricia Smith 
Fridays at 2:00
2/2, 2/9, 2/22 and one date TBA

CRW 543-001: FORMS OF POETRY, COX M
A sweeping survey of practical poetics focusing on free verse prosody against a background of traditional metrical prosody and aesthetics.  Designed to help writers sharpen their sense of historical development and critical terminology, the course will aid students in preparing for the MFA examination.  Format:  seminar, extensive critical reading and discussion, presentations.  

CRW 544-001: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, EDGERTON C
Generally speaking, each student is expected to present two short stories for workshopping during this class. Workshops will be both traditional and non-traditional (as explained and discussed in class) according to individual needs. Among potential class and individual activities--in addition to workshopping: 1) discussions of a story's plot, scenes, characters, theme, and context in "modern life," 2) discussions of literary theory, 3) discussion of technique in fiction and nonfiction, 4) discussions of readings (from among other sources, Paris Review Interviews, Mystery and Manners, Civilization and Its Discontents), 5) field trips, 5) dramatic reading and/or filming of scenes followed by analysis. Each student will respond to each workshop piece in writing prior to class or else experience a commensurate decline in final course grade. Students being workshopped are encouraged, time permitting, to talk about their stories. Refutation by the story writer of any criticisms of a story (during class time) is discouraged. Disregarding criticism that seems unreasonable to the writer is encouraged. 

CRW 545-001: FORMS OF CREATIVE NONFICTION, MOEZZI M
In this course, we will read, discuss, critique and write a wide variety of creative nonfiction. The class will include assigned readings, short writing assignments, and at least one presentation of the student’s own choosing. The aim of the course is to improve your writing skills through critical reading, discussion, writing and revision—and ultimately, to learn from and be inspired by other writers, writing and categories of writing without being so unduly limited and influenced by them that you abandon your own unique creative signature.

CRW 547-001: FORMS OF FICTION, SIEGEL R
One of the most powerful elements in fiction is the image, the word-picture that directly transmits what the writer sees. It is physical and yet also highly emotional, steeped in character perception and therefore deeply psychological. Perhaps more than any other aspect of fiction, it gives us the jolt of reality and makes us believe…This course will explore the role of imagery, and by extension all sensory experience, in the short story and the novel. We will read and discuss a selection of image-based fictions. There will be a final creative project and a public reading.

CRW 548-002: WORKSHOP LONG FORM NARRATIVE II, DE GRAMONT N
In the second semester of a year-long class, students will continue working on novels and memoir in a workshop format.

CRW 550-002: WORKSHOP IN CREATIVE NONFICTION, BRENNER W
This is a semi-traditional workshop course in which student work is our primary text.  Students will each hand in two pieces of creative nonfiction (any form, genre, hybrid- or sub-genre welcome) for discussion and at least one conference w/ instructor. “Semi-traditional” because we may vary our weekly discussion formats based on your feedback about what works best for you. I.e. discussion of how we discuss will be an ongoing discussion. As for the work, I am especially interested in the potential, what’s not yet on the page, and those moments, lines, scenes, etc. already on the page that feel quite literally unforgettable. We will read some short published creative nonfiction and may watch an occasional film excerpt. Goals are to provide feedback, mentoring, and support for individual students and their projects, to illuminate issues of craft for everyone, and to remind us how much we love writing.

CRW 580-001: MODERN ARTISTS AND WRITERS, FURIA P
Study of how modern writers such as Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, William Carlos  Williams, and others were influenced, in form and technique, by such artists as Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, Stieglitz, Duchamp, and O’Keeffe, as well as by artistic movements such as Cubism and Dadaism.

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 580-003: GHOST STORIES AND ELEGIES, LEE R
This will be a discussion class on various texts dealing with loss.  All genres will be consulted.  Books include but are not limited to the graphic novels Imagine Wanting Only This, by Kristen Radtke, and The Best We Could Do, by Thi Bui.  Other texts include: Sula, by Toni Morrison, Carried Away by Alice Munro, and the memoir The Afterlife, by Donald Antrim.   Lots of poetry.  Occasional in-class writing.
    

MFA Course Descriptions Archive