Creative Writing

MFA Course Descriptions

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  • You may also visit catalogue.uncw.edu for graduate-catalogue course descriptions (choose current catalogue year from drop-down, then see link in left column for course descriptions).

*530 (Screenwriting) & 540 (Writers Week) courses are always workshop;
 580 courses are always elective.

 

Spring 2022

CRW 524-001 (1cr), -002 (2cr), and -003 (3cr): LITERARY MAGAZINE Chautauqua, GERARD J
This course is designed to give students a practical magazine publishing experience. Our magazine is unique in that it bridges the UNCW Department of Creative Writing and Chautauqua Institution, an arts-based community in Chautauqua, NY. This partnership brings a variety of opportunities for UNCW. Members of the Chautauqua team 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 a writer. Most of our work is done in teams—with each group presenting regular updates. Graduate students work as leaders to set the agenda for work 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 524-004 (3cr): LITERARY MAGAZINE Ecotone, PHILLIPS BELL
[Permission of instructor required. Please write Anna Lena Phillips Bell for permission to register.] Ecotone’s section-editor positions function as apprenticeships in literary editing. Editors read and solicit manuscripts, recommend work for discussion by the editorial team, lead discussions of work, and perform top edits and lead edits. They practice the craft of editing, and 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 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 three section editors for 2022–2023, genres to be announced. Students interested in applying must have taken the three-credit practicum course in fall 2021 or before.



CRW 525-001: SPECIAL TOPICS IN PUBLISHING, FLEMING

 

CRW 542-001: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP, CROWE
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 who were first labeled Confessional, as well as the work of later 20th-century and contemporary poets who couldn’t help operating in some relation to the mode, whether by pushing even harder against boundaries of propriety and privacy or by resisting the apparent mandate to the personal. In workshop, class discussions, and short reflective prose assignments, 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, central to American poetry. Finally, each student will produce a portfolio of revised poems and a manifesto in which they try 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 542-001: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP, WHITE
This is second half of the yearlong poetry project. It’s primarily intended for students who took the fall course. We’ll begin by writing and workshopping individual poems and move toward workshopping the whole project, which may be imagined as a chapbook and/or an iteration or component of the thesis or future full-length manuscript. As before, experimental or hybrid aesthetics are more than welcome. Also as before, we’ll read and discuss notable books by outstanding contemporary poets with an eye toward both the individual poem and the larger vision.

CRW 543-001: FORMS OF POETRY, COX
Process and Revision. A study of generating and revising poems that will offer students a variety of tools. Format:  seminar, extensive critical reading and discussion. Numerous presentations. Writing in class. Laptop required. 

CRW 544-001: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, LEE
Special emphasis on pace, trajectory, story design, theme, voice and character, with a central discussion revolving around the question, what is drama?  What is dramatic?.  Writers will in general submit two stories for analysis, and the stories can be true or untrue, fiction or non-fiction.  Narrative poetry loved and accepted as well...

 

CRW 544-002: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, MOTT

 

CRW 545-001: FORMS OF CREATIVE NONFICTION, GERARD
Some of the best nonfiction writing occurs at the intersection of individual passion and public subjects. In this course, we’ll look hard at the narrative work of a variety of writers who address a wide range of such public subjects through the lens of their personal experience. They are writing not about their identity but from their identity—a crucial distinction. Our aim is to discover what formal techniques and structures they use to create compelling stories out of fact, telling true stories that illuminate the larger world beyond themselves in a manner made possible by who they are, their lived experience, and the special vantage point they bring to the subject. Whether they themselves appear in their narratives or remain somewhat effaced, their personal voices inhabit the telling in a way that elevates it beyond the merely informative or argumentative, infusing it with emotional authenticity. We’ll examine the work of such writers as James Baldwin, Diana Hume George, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Randall Kenan, Susan Orlean, Terry Tempest Williams, and others. 

CRW 547-001: FORMS OF FICTION (SUBVERSIVE WOMEN), BRENNER
This is a reading and discussion course open to all MFA students. We will focus on recent fiction that subverts traditional literary narrative form and content – in which the authors break, bend, or ignore various rules of genre and craft. Our goal, besides enjoyment of these texts, will be to consider what we might borrow for our own work, thus liberating our writing selves from formal craft conventions we may have been adhering to, consciously or otherwise.  Book list: Two Serious Ladies (Jane Bowles), Women Who Misbehave (Sayantani Dasgupta), Ayiti (Roxane Gay), Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (Saidiya Hartman), The City Is a Rising Tide (Rebecca Lee), Eileen: A Novel (Ottessa Moshfegh), Oh! A Novel (Mary Robison),Valley of the Dolls (Jacqueline Susann), Ninety-Nine Stories of God (Joy Williams), Confessions of A Pretty Lady (Sandra Bernhard). We'll also watch documentary films about Toni Morrison and Tammy Faye Bakker. Students will write occasional 1-page creative exercises, and a longer creative piece due at semester’s end. 

CRW 548-001: WORKSHOP LONG FORM NARRATIVE II, GERARD
This course builds on the foundation laid by Long Form Narrative I, in which each member of the workshop produced the solid beginnings of a viable, fictional or nonfictional novel. Now comes the opportunity to continue that novel with several chapters of lively, original writing that advances the story and its themes– both text and subtext. Whether the writer completes the entire novel or just a large part of it, 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 writing the long form of prose. 

CRW 550-001: WORKSHOP CREATIVE NONFICTION, MOEZZI
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 CREATIVE NONFICTION (INVENTIVE WONDERS), DASGUPTA
This rigorous course will focus on creating and revising Lyric and Hermit Crab Essays. To the extent possible, we will take inspiration from the original meaning and intent of the “workshop.” A room that provides space and tools for the manufacture and repair of goods. Our tools will include the books The Shell Game: Writers Play with Borrowed Forms (ed. Kim Adrian, Brenda Miller, and Cheyenne Nimes) and A Harp in the Stars: An Anthology of Lyric Essays (ed. Randon Billings Noble) that we will read and discuss for Craft. We will write several Lyric and Hermit Crab Essays, and revise some as well. We will also try a variety of workshop models. Students will be expected to meet with the professor for individual conferences at least twice during the semester.   

CRW 560-001: PUBLISHING PRACTICUM: LOOKOUT BOOKS, SMITH
[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, including a 2.45-hour staff meeting. [Taking the course over two semesters is recommended to experience the complete lifecycle of a book. MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.]

CRW 580-001: SPECIAL TOPICS IN CREATIVE WRITING—THE WRITING LIFE, DE GRAMONT
What does it mean to live a life of writing and reading books? How do we navigate such an unconventional life?  The course will focus on the practical aspects of the writing life, on writing habits, and getting our work done and out into the world. But we won’t neglect the larger picture, the philosophical and even spiritual 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. 

CRW 581-001: STUDIES IN INT’L WRITING & TRANSLATION, MÖRLING
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 study 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 their own translation of given poems. These translations will serve as focal points for the larger subject of translation, that of the poet as translator. In addition, we will explore virtual collaboration translations with students at Université Rennes 2 in Rennes, France. 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.


 

  

MFA Course Descriptions Archive