Introduction to Creative Writing
This section of Introduction to Creative Writing prepares students to examine rhetorical and craft choices that literary writers make. Introducing students to genres of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, the course also complicates definitions of genre. Both reading- and writing-intensive, the course surveys a range of aesthetic theories and approaches to writing. Students analyze some of the controversies associated with creative writing—the contingencies of literary value and issues of ethics—as they also learn how to prepare their work for publication. In researching publications, students gain audience awareness. The course equips students with heuristics for creative thinking, a better sense of the expanding possibilities of their craft, and many ideas to launch them forward in their writing careers.
In this course, students work to compose and design a chapbook manuscript that employs a range of methodologies, exemplified by our course texts. To encourage students' writing, the course readings include a range of booklength works of poetry that represent a diverse array of source materials. We’ll discuss the methodologies we find in our readings and how they can inform a poetic practice. Discussions of methodology will take us to questions of form, constraint, and the relationship between expository and literary writing. We’ll ask what it means to embark on a poetic project, and we’ll consider the art of the manuscript. Our discussions of these topics will continue as we workshop class members’ manuscripts. In our workshop sessions and discussions of the readings, we’ll consider the value of poetry as an investigative practice.
In this course, we will question how we write the landscape. Both reading and writing intensive, the course considers depictions of land and environment in American poetry from the 19th century to the present. We will take a body of literature called “ecopoetry” as an occasion to consider how art is world-making and how art can shape human action. As writers, we will take up this debate: Can the arts forward an ecological ethic, and can poetry be a mode of activism and persuasion, without compromising aesthetic integrity? We will contextualize this question in an aesthetic tradition that has contested the Horatian claim that poetry should “delight and instruct.” In addition to these aesthetic theoretical concerns, we will turn to issues of craft: By what techniques can languages and art-forms put us in contact with the physical world, or do texts (whether visual or linguistic) only refer us to their own textuality and representation? Taking these as orienting questions, we will analyze literary texts and artifacts to elucidate assumptions about the relationship between human and world.
This course surveys histories and forms of creative nonfiction writing—including personal, lyric, narrative, meditative, investigative, informative, and humorous essays. To better understand creative nonfiction, we will read several critical essays on the history of this “fourth genre” and questions of ethics, believability, truth, memory, rhetoric, narrative, craft, and form. Students experiment with the capaciousness of the essay by developing a portfolio that demonstrates stylistic range and facility with creative nonfiction research.
How do science writers, of multiple genres, form their understandings of the world through writing? And how do they work to shape their readers’ worldviews? What is the relationship between genres such as the scientific argument, report, lyric essay, and narrative? Considering these genres, can we usefully revise common dichotomies that separate art from science? With these questions in mind, students take a practitioner’s approach to understanding science writing. As a means of analysis, students imitate the essays that we read and discuss. To better understand creative nonfiction, students also read several critical essays on the history of this “fourth genre” and questions of ethics, believability, truth, memory, rhetoric, narrative, craft, and form.
With readings informed by critical scholarship on autoethnography, this course explores several definitions of “postmodernism” in order to get a better sense of what is at stake in associating a literary and artistic "era" with impersonality, fragmentation, instability, and alienation. The course provides the opportunity to examine postmodern aesthetic theory and questions regarding self-expression. Taking a practitioner's approach to analysis, students emulate the techniques found in the course readings and work in correspondence with the authors listed on the syllabus.
This course surveys a range of perspectives on short fiction by reading short stories (and “short short” stories) alongside authors’ statements about the genre. As a means of analysis, students imitate, parody, and revise the stories that we read and discuss, in order to broaden their own writerly repertoire. Through sequenced revision assignments, students learn to attend to different aspects of narrative craft as they deepen their facility with fiction writing.
This course examines a variety of conflicting perspectives on the purposes, roles, and capacities of short fiction by reading short stories (and “short short” stories) alongside authors’ statements about the genre. As a means of analysis, students imitate, parody, and revise the stories we read and discuss. To complete the final anthology project, students position themselves within the aesthetic controversies surrounding the short story. Students also add to the course survey of the short story by presenting on an author whose work is not represented in the syllabus; the presentation assignment requires students to locate their chosen author in comparison with other writers and in the aesthetic tradition the course introduces. Students also complete a research project to examine how short fiction is read and regarded by readerships.
This course is an opportunity to explore the hybrid role of the writer-teacher. We’ll examine people and places in the history of creative writing instruction, as we simultaneously consider the contemporary situation of creative writing in the university, in K-12 education, and in other communities. The course will provide you a range of ideas for designing lesson plans and courses in creative writing for diverse audiences, as it will also introduce you to the larger aesthetic and pedagogical questions that shape the teaching of creative writing. We’ll investigate the relationship between theory and practice, and you’ll have the opportunity to articulate your own teaching philosophy and to apply it by facilitating class discussions and exercises. The assignments are meant to build your teaching dossier, which will continue to evolve throughout your career. The readings will introduce you to important concepts and to the venues where creative writing teachers discuss the craft of pedagogy. As such, the course is an important professional development opportunity and a chance to add rigor and new contexts to your consideration of writing craft.
Through critical studies and professional writers’ accounts of their practices, this section of Introduction to Analytical Writing explores a variety of forms, approaches, techniques, and theories of writing and reading. The course is designed to equip students with knowledge about writing and skills to help them negotiate a variety of writing contexts. Many of the course readings are studies of writing from composition and rhetoric. Students evaluate these studies for their methodological limitations and assumptions and read these studies against common notions about writers, writing, and literacy. In doing so, students critically analyze cultural constructs of the writer’s identity and practice.
Literary Perspectives teaches students to make coherent arguments about literary texts, to support interpretive positions with primary textual evidence and secondary criticism. To support their writing, students learn to orient their observations, ideas, and arguments in relation to the arguments of other literary scholars. The course requires students to conduct skillful research as a process of inquiry. Students find, interpret, evaluate, summarize, synthesize, and document information ethically and effectively. The course enables students to use a variety of reading strategies to examine difficult texts and to analyze how literature is constructed. Additionally, because the course serves as an introduction to the discipline of English, students learn to articulate some of the assumptions, topoi, and values associated with literary criticism. The course equips students from across the disciplines to negotiate difficult texts and to read literature against critical theories.
This course surveys some of the complexities associated with literacy education and language acquisition, as it also examines the value of linguistic diversity. Readings include personal accounts of literacy acquisition, and students have the opportunity to reflect on their own literacy education and linguistic development. Class discussions and assignments interrogate the relationship between literacy, language, learning, and power.
This course is primarily designed to train tutors to work in the University’s Writing Center, though the course is also useful for writing teachers and those who wish to gain a vocabulary for talking about writing. We will investigate our own and others’ writing processes, styles and purposes for writing in various contexts—including courses in different majors—and the dynamics of giving and receiving useful peer feedback on writing. We will also examine the role of a Writing Center on campus and compare it with the writing classroom. This course will give you lots of practice in responding to students’ writing, and we’ll regularly provide each other feedback on our tutoring approaches as we learn to analyze the risks and possibilities of different pedagogical techniques.