Creative Writing

MFA Course Descriptions

  • Note: for day & time information, and for delivery mode, please go to SeaNet and search for courses.
  • You may also visit catalogue.uncw.edu for catalogue course descriptions (choose current catalogue year from drop-down, then see link in left column for course descriptions).


Fall 2021

CRW 503-001: CREATIVE WRITING PEDAGOGY, DASGUPTA S
This seminar provides training in the method and practice of teaching creative writing in a university or college setting, and it functions as the weekly staff meeting for those serving as new teaching assistants (GTA and DIS) in CRW 201. Together we’ll read and discuss pedagogical texts, evaluate creative writing methodologies, and consider a wide range of “problems in teaching.” (Can creative writing be taught? Should it be graded? By what method? How best can we handle conflict in the classroom or respond to sensitive material in student writing?) We’ll engage in examining common teaching practices such as workshops, learn from distinguished guests about their preferred tools and strategies, and discuss how to engage with diverse learning and writing communities. Each student-teacher will keep a journal and write a number of short responses throughout the semester, which will culminate in a polished Teaching Philosophy suitable for inclusion in a professional dossier.

CRW 523-001: BOOKBUILDING, RAMOS M
For students interested in the basics, this course offers intensive hands-on training in book design and production using desktop publishing software in a Mac lab. Students develop skills through a progressively more complex series of design projects, culminating in a limited edition finished chapbook of their own work. Students should gain from this course basic software skills, a heightened design aesthetic, an understanding of how books are produced, manuscript to bookshelf, and an overview of small press publishing. The course meets for three hours a week, but students should allow ample additional time to complete assignments in the Publishing Lab outside of class hours.

CRW 524-001 (1cr): ECOTONE PRACTICUM, PHILLIPS BELL A L 
[Permission of instructor required. Please write Anna Lena Phillips Bell for permission to register.]

CRW 524-002 (2cr): ECOTONE EDITORS’ PRACTICUM, PHILLIPS BELL A L 
Ecotone’s section-editor positions function as apprenticeships in literary editing. Editors read and solicit manuscripts, recommend work for discussion by the team, lead discussions of work, and perform top edits and lead edits. They work closely with the editor on drafting editorial correspondence and marking edits and queries. They also contribute ideas for special features and issue themes; nominate work from the magazine for awards and anthologies; and help draft and implement promotion plans. Editors also assign work to Ecotone’s readers each week, review reader comments, and ensure that submission responses are sent. Required texts: Subscription to one literary magazine from approved list; Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition; The Copyeditor’s Handbook, fourth edition, and The Copyeditor’s Workbook. MFA students may repeat for credit without limit. In spring 2022, applications will be accepted for two to three section-editor positions. Students interested in applying must have taken the three-credit practicum course in a prior semester. [Permission of instructor required. Please write Anna Lena Phillips Bell for permission to register.]

CRW 524-003 (3cr): ECOTONE PRACTICUM, PHILLIPS BELL A L 
This is a practical course in the publication of Ecotone, the award-winning national literary magazine of place. The coursework consists of reading manuscripts and working as part of an editorial team to help bring out an issue of the magazine. This fall we’ll be working on the Climate Issue, as well as our spring/summer 2022 issue. Each practicum member is responsible for reading and commenting on a number of submissions each week. Ecotone staff members will also fact-check work for upcoming issues, draft run order, write front-matter copy, and proofread. Additional work may include planning promotions for the magazine. We’ll engage with ongoing questions of equity and decolonization, as they apply to Ecotone’s work and to literary publishing overall. We will set aside time at least once during the semester to think about the process of sending out our own 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 to review. 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, space permitting. [Permission of instructor required. Please write Anna Lena Phillips Bell for permission to register.]
Note: In spring 2022, applications will be accepted for two to three section editors, genres to be announced. Students interested in applying must have taken the three-credit practicum course. In 2021–2022, CRW 524-003 will be offered in fall but not in spring. If you are an incoming student and are interested in an editorial position with Ecotone, you may take the fall practicum in order to be eligible to apply.

CRW 524-004 (1cr), 005 (2cr), and 006 (3cr): CHAUTAUQUA LITERARY MAGAZINE, GERARD J
This course is designed to give students a practical magazine publishing experience. Students will read and respond to submissions, work on editing projects, search for possible cover art, and assist with design work. Students interested in developmental editing will be able to identify a potential project and work directly with the writers. Most of our work is done in teams—with each group presenting regular updates on their projects and work. Graduate work as a leader(s) to set the agenda for 4-week modules and mentor undergraduate students with projects addressing editing, sales/marketing, and art/design. For the academic year 2021-2022, Chautauqua will be publishing three shorter online issues. This brings new opportunity for our team. MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.  

CRW 525: THE PUBLISHING PROCESS, SMITH E
This practical course is designed to demystify the path to book publication for emerging authors. We will begin with a survey of contemporary publishing, from the big five to independent houses, to establish a foundational understanding of the field. We’ll then review the stages in bringing a debut book into the world—from signing with a literary agent to navigating the editorial process to preparing for book publicity. Along the way, students will evaluate and write their own query letters; develop tailored lists of potential agents, editors, and book contests; practice the art of the pitch; and critically evaluate sample book proposals as they outline and begin drafting their own. Applying their newfound knowledge and now thinking like an editor or publisher, class members will help evaluate the viability of their peers’ proposals and offer constructive feedback. Each student will also come away from the course with a plan for submitting to journals and magazines, as well as for applying to residencies, fellowships, and other opportunities. Guest speakers will join us throughout the semester.

CRW 530-001: SCREENWRITING, BARROW J
This course is designed to introduce advanced writing students to the basic elements of screenwriting. Students will develop, outline, workshop, revise, and complete an original 10-12 page short film.

530-002 Hackler

CRW 540-001: WRITERS WEEK SEMINAR, LEE R 
This one-credit intensive course is designed to complement Writers Week 2021 (theme TBA!).  We'll spend the months and weeks leading up to Writers Week meeting and planning events. A lot of the work will be practical but hopefully also visionary and strategic.  We will also be reading the work of the writers who will be coming.

CRW 542-001: POETRY COLLECTION I, WHITE M
In this yearlong (fall and spring) course we’ll lean into the collection, whether it’s a nascent project you’ve barely begun to imagine, or a body of work you’d like to continue to develop and bring to workshop. Through the year, we’ll discuss notable books by outstanding contemporary poets and authors with an eye toward how each has shaped the larger vision. As the year progresses, we’ll move toward assembling and workshopping your own collection in its entirety. Note: although listed as a poetry course, writers looking for a hybrid workshop for their projects are more than welcome!

CRW 542-002: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP, MÖRLING M
Jorge Luis Borges once said: "poetry is expressed in words, but words are not the substance of poetry…The substance of poetry-if I may use a metaphor-is emotion." In this poetry workshop we will focus on the ever-evolving process of our writing and address the emotional nature of our poems. How do we write a poem that deeply engages the reader? We will also discuss different ways of analyzing a poem and how to listen with an open mind and heart to a critique of your own work. In addition, 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 and inevitable form? Everyone is required to submit a raw and freshly written poem every, or every other week. The aim of this class is also for us to learn to become comfortable bringing in poems that are still rough without making excuses for them.

CRW 544-001: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, SIEGEL R
This is a fully online fiction 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 546-001: WORKSHOP IN LONG FORM NARRATIVE I, GERARD P
This is the first of a year-long two-course suite (with CRW 548) that addresses writing a prose book, either fiction or nonfiction. Students are strongly encouraged, but not required, to take both courses back-to-back in fall and spring. Narrative books don’t just spring full-blown onto the page—they rely on a complex architecture of scene and chapter in order to create a sense of expectation and fulfillment for the reader over the long haul. We will address the elements of narrative design in the long form, as well as the indispensable work of preparation, research, and pre-writing that allow for adventure, mystery, and surprise to occur in the actual writing. We will revisit such maligned practices as composing an outline and redefine misunderstood terms such as suspense in order to create aesthetic limits within which unlimited artistry is possible. Students will write toward their books– notes, sketches, a declaration that captures the essence of their fascination with the situation of the story, an outline, and at least one chapter. 

CRW 547 001: FORMS OF FICTION, THE CONTEMPORARY SHORT STORY, DE GRAMONT N 
We will read and discuss short stories published between 2015 and the present. Our focus will be craft, subject matter, and form. We’ll perform in-class exercises geared toward completing and submitting a short story by the semester’s end, with an element of the class focused on literary magazines and the submission process. 

CRW 550-001: CREATIVE NONFICTION WORKSHOP, MOEZZI M
In this course, students will write, read, revise, and critique their own creative nonfiction (CNF). Think personal essay, memoir, literary journalism, criticism, profile, and/or opinion, nature, travel, lyrical, political, observational, argumentative and descriptive writing, and so on. By the end of this semester, students will have written at least one work of original CNF that is ready to submit for publication.

CRW 550-002: WORKSHOP IN CREATIVE NONFICTION, BRENNER W
Your work is at the center of this semi-traditional workshop course. Students will write and submit for workshop discussion their own creative nonfiction (all forms, genres, and sub-genres welcome), and meet privately with the instructor at least once. The format is “semi-traditional” because we may vary our workshop discussion procedures a bit based on your feedback about what works best for you. Regardless, we’ll maintain a respectful, constructive forum in which all voices can be both authentic and heard. I am especially interested in the potential of each piece we consider, what’s not yet on the page – and those moments already on the page that feel most unforgettable and luminous, hardest for readers to turn away from. We’ll likely read occasional short selections of published creative nonfiction (distributed in class) and watch an occasional film, but student work will always take priority. The course goals are to provide feedback, mentoring, and support for students and their projects, to strengthen our sense of community, to illuminate issues of craft, and to remind ourselves how much we love writing and reading. 

CRW 560-001: PUBLISHING PRACTICUM: LOOKOUT BOOKS, SMITH E
[Please write the instructor for permission to enroll.] A select group of graduate students supports the work of the department’s award-winning publishing imprint, Lookout Books (lookout.org). This practical course functions primarily as a hands-on internship at an independent press and provides real-world experience in everything from evaluating manuscripts to proofreading, from designing book interiors and pitching cover concepts to developing marketing and publicity plans in support of the imprint’s forthcoming titles. The Lookout experience will prove valuable for students interested in furthering their understanding of literary publishing, whether they want to enter the industry or learn about it toward their aspirations as authors. Former students have gone on to careers at HarperCollins, Graywolf, W. W. Norton, Hub City Press, Orion, and Southern Humanities Review, among many others. Practicum students work approximately 9 hours weekly in the Publishing Lab, which includes a 2.5-hour weekly staff meeting. [MFA students may repeat for credit without limit. Taking the course over two semesters is recommended to experience the complete lifecycle of a book.]

580-001 Gessner

CRW 580-002: SPECULATIVE POETRY, CROWE M
“If the imagination is to transcend and transform experience it has to question, to challenge, to conceive of alternatives, perhaps to the very life you are living at that moment.” –Adrienne Rich
In this course, we’ll read modern and contemporary collections that posit realities other than the one in which we live or have agreed to countenance. Such books—whether they make use of/transform the tropes and moves of fantasy, sci-fi, or alternate history, whether they render apocalypse or dole out prophesy—engage in vivid world building or what the poet Daniel Pafunda has called “world revelation.” Such poetry, she tells us, can “reveal the many alternate realities we traverse but can’t admit to daily exchange.” Students will respond to course readings in short, reflective prose assignments and try their hand at some spec-po tricks of their own. Let Robert Heinlein’s invitation serve as mine, too: “If you love to think up new worlds, then come on in, the water’s fine and there is plenty of room.”

580-800 Lee

 

 

 

MFA Course Descriptions Archive