Creative Writing

MFA Course Descriptions

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Spring 2019

CRW 524-003, -002, and -001: ECOTONE LITERARY MAGAZINE, PHILLIPS BELL A L
[Permission of instructor required. Please write Anna Lena Phillips Bell (phillipsal@uncw.edu) for permission to register.]

CRW 524-003 (three credits) is a practical course in the publication of Ecotone, the award-winning national literary magazine of place. The coursework consists of reading submissions and working as part of an editorial team to help bring out an issue of the magazine. Each practicum member is responsible for reading and commenting on a number of manuscripts each week. Ecotone staff members will also fact-check work for upcoming issues, draft the run order for the spring issue, write front-matter copy, and proof the issue. Other work may include promotion planning and implementation as well as event planning. We will set aside time at least once during the semester to think about the process of sending out work to literary magazines. In addition, we will read widely, both to cultivate an understanding of Ecotone’s aesthetic and where it sits in the literary landscape, and to find new voices the magazine might publish. Practicum members will read and review one past issue of Ecotone, and will subscribe to two print literary magazines and follow one online, choosing one of these to review. Reviews may be published on the Ecotone/Lookout Books blog. 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. MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.

CRW 524-001 and -002 are reserved for Ecotone’s section editors. These editorships entail a separate, one-hour weekly meeting. Section editors manage digital and print submissions for a given genre—reading manuscripts, assigning work to readers, reviewing readers’ comments, recommending work for discussion by the team, leading discussions of work, and ensuring that submission responses are sent. Section editors also solicit work from new writers; work closely with the editor to learn the craft of drafting editorial correspondence and marking edits; contribute ideas for special features and issue themes; and help draft and implement promotion plans for the magazine. Required texts: Subscriptions to two literary magazines from approved list. MFA students may repeat for credit without limit. In spring 2019, applications will be accepted for the positions of poetry editor and nonfiction editor. Students interested in applying must have taken, or be currently enrolled in, the three-credit practicum course.

CRW 524-004 (1CR), -005 (2CR), and -006 (3CR): LITERARY MAGAZINE Chautauqua, GERARD J
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: WRITING AND EDITING ARTFUL SENTENCES, PHILLIPS BELL A L
What makes a good sentence? How do good sentences accrue to make great paragraphs, sections, stories, essays, poems? This course is an exploration of the sentence through rhetoric and syntax, among other considerations. In it we will articulate, practice, and expand our own strategies and style for sentence-making in our genres of choice. The course will also offer experience in crafting effective editorial communication, and insight into essential parts of the editorial process from both the writer’s and the editor’s perspective. Assignments will include two editing projects for which students may submit either new work or revised work from prior semesters. Visits with guest editors (most via Skype) will provide additional insight. At the conclusion of the semester, students will have a deeper understanding of syntax and the myriad ways it can work, names for and ways of talking about common and less-common rhetorical devices, a sense of how several professional editors approach substantive edits at the line level, and experience in both editing and responding to edits. Course texts will include Artful Sentences: Syntax As Style, by Virginia Tufte, and Figures of Speech: Sixty Ways to Turn a Phrase, by Arthur Quinn, as well as an index of favorite sentences and passages created by the class.

CRW 542-001: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP, CROWE M
This course combines investigation of the Confessional mode in American poetry with a workshop of student poems. We’ll read the mid-twentieth century poets whose work was first identified as Confessional—Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and W.D. Snodgrass, alongside the work of later 20th-century and contemporary poets who could not help operating in some relation to Confession, whether by pushing even harder against the boundaries of propriety and privacy or by resisting its apparent mandate to the personal. We’ll investigate the aesthetic, cultural, political, and literary historical meanings of Confession, both as a school of poetry and as a label rarely applied by poets to their own work. Meanwhile, students will explore the relationship of their own work to Confession, whether they embrace or actively resist the “lyric I“ and the personal, nonfictional mode of utterance that has been, for so long, so central to American poetry. Students will explore their own personal and political and formal aims in workshop, in class discussions, and in short reflective prose writing assignments. Finally, each student will produce a portfolio of polished poems and a manifesto in which s/he tries to answer some of the course’s central questions, making a particular argument about how ideas of honesty, authenticity, and “the self” operate in their work.

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 revision exercises or presentations.  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, including an anthology of twelve contemporary women poets; b) weekly reflections; and c) extensive exploration of a craft concept of your choice. 

CRW 543-001: FORMS OF POETRY, WHITE M
This forms course will include a quick tour of received form through history, with an emphasis on contemporary variants. We’ll read and discuss Annie Finch’s text A Poet’s Craft, as well as contemporary collections that feature innovative or experimental approaches to form, from poets such as Ted Berrigan, Patricia Smith, and Terrance Hayes. Although primarily a seminar, in this course we’ll also workshop your own explorations of poetic form.  

CRW 544-001: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, EDGERTON C
Among planned activities: workshopping stories, scenes, novel chapters: discussions of literary theory; discussions of technique in fiction; discussions and readings of favorite passages and authors; performance of short scripts adapted from fiction produced for this class; a class trip--potentially. At the outset, we may examine alternate approaches to the traditional workshop.

CRW 544-002: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, DE GRAMONT M
In this class, we will work on writing literature for teens.  Class time will consist of exercises, workshops of your writing, and discussion of contemporary Young Adult themes.  We will also read some contemporary young adult literature.

CRW 544-003 (1CR): FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, Visiting Writer Taylor Brown
RESEARCH VS IMAGINATION
In this month-long fiction workshop, we will focus on writing from the perspective of characters from time periods other than our own, both past and future. We will discuss the ability of such work to speak to the present, the role of research versus imagination, and the process and pitfalls of world-building for the fiction writer.
Along the way, we’ll make sure to consider practical strategies and lessons for staying the path, as well as the habits, regimens, and work philosophies of writers from the past and present.  Students will write one short story or self-contained novel excerpt from the perspective of a character from another time period, past or future.  Poets and CNF writers are also encouraged!

CRW 545-001: FORMS OF CREATIVE NONFICTION, DASGUPTA S
EATING OUR WORLD
“Whether or not we spend time in a kitchen, whether or not we even care what’s on the plate, we have a relationship with food that’s launched when we’re born and lasts until we die. Cooking, eating, feeding others, resisting or ignoring food—it all runs deep, so deep that we may not even notice the way it helps to define us.” – Laura Shapiro
The goal of this course is to improve students’ reading, analysis, and writing of creative nonfiction by focusing on food. We will read a variety of food-themed nonfiction books, and each book will be paired with a matching, short writing assignment. At the end of the semester, students will give presentations on how they would want to craft their own food memoirs incorporating stylistic devices they have learned from books read in this class.

CRW 547-001: FORMS OF FICTION, MOTT J
Fantasy, Myth, and Madness, the trifecta of timeless storytelling. In this class we will read novels steeped in myth and imagination as well as discuss why these types of stories persist within the human imagination. We will read works from John Gardner, H.P. Lovecraft, Joseph Campbell, and more. In addition, we will be exploring how these themes relate to our own writing via writing exercises and class discussion.

CRW 548-001: WORKSHOP LONG FORM NARRATIVE I, GERARD P
This course builds on the foundation laid by CRW 546: Writing the Long Form Narrative 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 via email.
*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 (1CR): WORKSHOP IN CREATIVE NONFICTION, Visiting Writer Kiese Laymon

 

CRW 550-002: BEYOND MEMOIR, A WORKSHOP IN CREATIVE NONFICTION, GESSNER D
The goal of this class is to create nonfiction that uses personal experience but does not focus on that experience as an end in itself. We will explore hybrid forms that combine research, interviews, travel writing, nature writing, reportage and memoir.  It is an exciting time in the world of creative nonfiction and part of that excitement comes from the wide possibilities and variety of forms that make up the genre.  One goal of the class will be to take your more personal writing and see if it can serve a larger story. Due to this, the first half of the class will be less workshop-heavy as we work to create magazine or book proposals to pitch to book and magazine editors.  Assignments will include interviews, field notes, research, and trips to the places where your stories are.

CRW 560-001: 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 an independent literary press and provides hands-on experience in evaluating manuscripts, copyediting, fact checking, proofreading, designing book interiors and pitching cover concepts, publicity, social media management, marketing and sales, grant writing, and producing promotional materials for the imprint. [MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.]

CRW 580-001: WRITING ABOUT PEOPLE, BRENNER W
This is a reading course (elective, not workshop) for students working in all genres, focusing on the craft of telling someone’s story, including your own. We’ll read creative nonfiction, fiction, hybrid forms, and watch a couple of documentary films, with an eye towards how we writers can best use various story-telling techniques and approaches in our own work. We’ll focus primarily on memoir, biography, and oral history – writing about people, including one’s self – though some texts we’ll read don’t fall easily into any genre or category. Books will include Was This Man A Genius? (Julie Hecht’s biography of comedian Andy Kaufman),Truth & Beauty: A Friendship (Ann Patchett’s memoir about her friendship with Lucy Grealy), Autobiography of a Face (Lucy Grealy’s memoir), Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Roz Chast’s graphic memoir), Working (Studs Terkel), Edie: An American Girl (Plimpton and Stein), Inscriptions for Headstones (Matthew Vollmer), Ninety-nine Stories of God (Joy Williams), 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write (Sarah Ruhl), The Weekend (Peter Cameron). Films may include Capturing the Friedmans, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (biopic of the late televangelist, narrated by RuPaul), and short selections by Errol Morris. Students will write occasional short creative exercises and one longer final essay or final creative project.

CRW 580-003: THE WRITING LIFE, GESSNER D
This class will focus on all aspects of the writing life.  What does it mean to live a life of writing and reading books?  How do we navigate such an unconventional life? The course will be broken down into two halves. The first will focus on the spiritual aspects of the writing life, as well as work habits, and the second on more practical aspects. But while we will end on a practical note we will keep our focus on the larger picture, and the philosophical aspects of choosing to be a writer in today's world. Throughout the term we will be visited by other writers who will discuss their own writing lives.      

 

MFA Course Descriptions Archive