Undergraduate Creative Writing Courses
Introduction to Creative Writing
Section 01 - Tania Sarfraz - TR 3:30-4:45
Section 02 - Christopher Muravez - MW 9:30-10:45
Section 03 - Kelsey Castaneda - MW 5:05-6:20
This course will introduce you to the craft of writing poetry & fiction. Study the language, forms, techniques, & conventions of poetry & fiction with the purpose of putting that knowledge into practice. The hope is that by the end of the semester you will have also discovered ways of reading creative works that are stimulating & enriching for you. A large part of the semester will be devoted to the writing & sharing of exercises & original creative works in a workshop setting.
01- Tania Sarfraz
A writer is one who writes. Nothing more, but absolutely nothing less. In this class, we will learn through doing. We will grow as writers by writing profusely and intensely – keeping a daily journal, submitting work for workshop, revising, building a final portfolio of polished creative work, and thoughtfully critiquing the work of our peers. We will supplement our rigorous writing practice with a healthy diet of texts which will enlarge our conceptions of writing. ‘Fiction’,’ nonfiction,’ ‘poetry’ – we will read from across the literary spectrum, noting what is distinct about each of these genres but also the many ways in which they blur into each other and are frequently the same.
02- Christopher Muravez
We are bombarded with images daily, but what do they mean? What is an advertisement telling us? Is a picture really worth 1,000 words? Do images shape our reality, or does our reality shape the images? This course will introduce students to the craft of creative writing, be it poetry, fiction, or non-fiction, by exploring how images, both still and moving, shape our understanding of the world. With a combination of contemporary literature, poetry, and philosophy, we will learn how to combine critical thinking and creative writing. We will also learn how to support each other's work through constructive criticism in the workshop environment. Students should expect to be challenged, both creatively and intellectually. By the end of this course each student will have produced a portfolio they can be proud of.
03 –Kelsey Castaneda
From the Odyssey to The Little Mermaid, fairy tales and myths have permeated the literary world for centuries. This course will introduce students to creative writing by using these classic fairy tales and myths that we all know and love as writing models. Over the semester, students will study the forms, techniques, and language of poetry and prose by first close reading the stories, and then responding to them through creative writing of some form. We will read some of the classics, such as Ovid's Metamorphoses and theGrimm’s Fairy Tales, but will also study writers who are currently adapting the forms and techniques of fairy tales and myths, such as Kate Bernheimer and Claudia Rankine. We will use these readings as starting points for creative writing of all sorts--formal writing, ekphrastic writing, social and political writing, non-fiction writing, and so on. Students will share their creative pieces in a workshop setting a few times over the course of the semester, but will also practice creative writing with in-class exercises and group projects. As this course is an "introduction to creative writing," students will be expected to experiment with writing in different genres, such as poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, so that, by the end of the semester, each student will have produced a unique body of writing in various modes.
Introduction to Poetry Writing
Section 01 – Luis Lopez-Maldonado – MW 3:30-4:45
Section 02 - Zachary Anderson - MW 11:00-12:15
Section 03 - Johannes Goransson - MW 11:00-12:15
This course will introduce you to contemporary poetry in a variety of media and formats and from an array of lively, diverse voices. Through in- and out-of-class assignments you?ll learn how poets draft and revise; you?ll practice techniques, genres and forms; and you?ll generate a poetry portfolio of your own. Class format will include discussion, in-class activities, and opportunities for feedback on student work. Please see the English Department website for an individualized description for each section of this course.
01 - Luis Lopez-Maldonado - MW 3:30-4:45
Everything & everyone is POETRY! So, this course will stand on a wide range of classic, contemporary, and other poetic styles & methods. The underlining concepts of self-evaluation, improvisation, & performance will be key in this course. Students enrolled in this course will acquire an understanding of how to read & write poetry! Class will be held outside of the classroom here & there! Additionally, students will have the opportunity to examine the performance continuum of poesia through official Notre Dame poetry readings, poetry on social-networks/media, and our own readings in class. We will write every single class! Prepare to create beautiful | mystical | terrifying | funny | avant-garde werk! Let us begin creating something from nothing! Let’s dissect life.
02 - Zachary Anderson - MW 11:00-12:15
This course is designed to introduce students to poetic forms and techniques currently in circulation in the poetic world. To this end, students will critically engage with a variety of texts produced within the last five years. In concert with these readings, students will investigate forms, techniques, language, and tropes of poetry by producing their own poetic work both in and out of class. By the end of the semester, students will have produced a unique portfolio of work. Class format will include discussion, in-class writing activities, and opportunities to receive feedback on work.
03 – Johannes Goransson – MW 11:00-12:15
This is introductory class is intended to make you feel comfortable and confident reading, writing, discussing and performing contemporary poetry. We will read a wide variety of poetry – including slam poetry, song lyrics, gothic dirges, surrealist fantasias, Internet-inspired chat poems, protest poems and more – from many different cultures and contexts in order to explore the possibilities for poetry in our convulsive age. We will use what we learn from other poems to develop our own poetic styles; and we will use our own poems to understand other people’s poems. In addition to weekly exercises, we will write two longer portfolios, giving students the opportunity to further develop their writing skills.
Introduction to Fiction Writing
Section 01 - Bailey Pittenger – TR 9:30-10:45
Section 02 - Thomson Guster - MW 3:30-4:45
Students will begin with narrative exercises in style and form and ultimately write complete drafts and revisions of literary short stories. Readings in modern and contemporary literature will provide critical perspective and vocabulary, as well as narrative possibilities.
01 - Bailey Pittenger - TR 9:30-10:45
Welcome to the wild side, writers. In this course, we praise Alton Brown for his creative genius in all things cooking and science, thus we establish our genius in creative writing and experimentation. Fiction exists in countless forms, and this course will encourage you to analyze form by engaging in innovative methods of telling stories. Up for the challenge? Good. This course will take you through a series of “writing rounds” similar to those in the Food Network series, Cutthroat Kitchen, in which your writing style, your narrative, and your creative process will be challenged and sabotaged in order to generate your most creative work. In addition to writing, you will read contemporary prose, workshop the work of your peers, and create a new portfolio of your own fiction.
02 – Thomson Guster – MW 3:30-4:45
“If writing cannot and writing must change things,” said writer Kathy Acker, “logically, of course, writing will change things magically.” And we’re going to do just that! This is your invitation to consider writing fiction as the art that, in secret and in plain sight, works to compose the reality that we live, love, and languish in. In this class we'll use a game framework derived from Dungeons & Dragons and other RPGs to navigate a variety of constraint-based writing challenges on the way toward unlocking the magic potential of your own writing. Together we’ll explore different unorthodox methods of producing work, write and share pieces of our own, learn how to revise and re-vision pieces already written, read fun and troublesome stories in a variety of forms, and maybe—just maybe—figure out how all of this mucking about with words is meant to leave its mark on ourselves, each other, and our world.
Introduction to Creative Non-Fiction
How do you turn an experience into a story? How do you translate observations into a compelling #longread that people will actually read? Going further, how can we use writing not just to record our impressions of reality, but to change and expand reality itself? In this course, we will read and practice three main genres of creative nonfiction—literary journalism, cultural criticism, and memoir—in order to explore the political, personal, ethical, and literary potential of attentive, self-conscious, nonfiction prose. Texts will include work by Ta-Nahesi Coates, Maggie Nelson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Eula Biss, Hunter S. Thompson, Walter Benjamin, Joan Didion, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Creative Writing and Multiculturalism
What does multicultural writing look like in America? Who is writing it, how are they doing so, and why? During this semester, we will engage with these questions both as readers and writers through the study of a variety of texts, as well as create our own texts to add to this tradition. We will analyze fiction (novel and short story length), poetry, graphic novel, memoir, personal essay, play, film, television and oral storytelling and mine them for both understanding and methodology. Through the study and practice of these media, we will begin to formulate our own writing projects and figure out how we fit into the multicultural literary tradition. This class will require students to turn in both academic responses and creative writing.
In this class, we are going to write poetry, think about poetry and talk about poetry from a number of different perspectives. We’re going to read modern, contemporary and not-so-contemporary poetry, as well as works that move across genres (prose poetry, poetic films), media (print, photography, the Internet, the desert of the real), and languages and cultures. We will consider what poetry means in this spectacular age, but we will also explore more pragmatic concerns: where does one find out about poets? Where does one publish poems? Where does one discuss new poetry? In addition to weekly writing exercises, we will engage in three longer projects allowing the students to develop and work on their own particular lines of aesthetic inquiry.
This course will encourage you to make all kinds of stories and to think about what kinds of stories are most crucial to you and to our culture. We’ll read everything from flash fiction to graphic fiction to long stories to a novel, and we’ll think about the possibilities available in all kinds of forms, from surrealism to satire, from apparently conventional realism to full-bore experimentalism. We’ll begin with short exercises designed to loosen up your narrative voice, and we’ll build to complete stories or novel chapters. By mid-semester you’ll be reading your peers’ drafts for ideas and perspective—and also to offer them serious feedback. The final project will be a revision of one of the drafts you’ve already submitted, alongside a brief contemplation of why you’ve chosen the form you have for the story you tell. At our last class, we’ll celebrate with a final reading highlighting our diverse aesthetic choices and voices.
Advanced Fiction Writing
What are the poetics of prose? How do we make voices speak on the page? In this reading-intensive workshop, we will approach these questions through philosophy, literary theory, close reading, and experimental practice. The strange technology of writing easily turns invisible in its everyday familiarity—in order to see fiction-making in all its deep weirdness, we must be willing to take it apart, break it, and remake it. We will perform our experiments with the seriousness of scientists and play with the abandon of the possessed, for as much as writing is a technology, it is also an attunement, a moment shaping collective vibrations as they pass through gatherings of cells. Examples will include work by Gertrude Stein, M. NourbeSe Philip, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Jorge Luis Borges, Jane Bowles, and others.
Advanced Poetry Writing
This class is for writers who have tried their hands at writing poetry and would like to push themselves further. We will read and write broadly, immersing ourselves in contemporary poetry and its traditional antecedents, as well as combing fiction, plays, visual art, film, music, and other media to find forms and techniques to try out in our poetry. We will draft, revise, improvise, workshop, critique and perform with and for each other, and we will also think about the means and media by which poetry is published. With our minds on the currents shaping, for good or ill, the world we live in, will deeply consider the possibility that poetry might change, enhance, redefine and ornament the world—and make new worlds.
Advanced Fiction Writing II
This course is intended for students who have already taken an Advanced Fiction Writing and who are seriously interested in writing fiction. The expectation is that the student is beyond the point of requiring assignments to generate stories. Over the semester, in a workshop setting, student stories will be taken through various stages: due attention will be paid to revision, rewriting, polishing, editing, with a goal that the stories be brought as close as possible to the point of submission as finished work. Practical as well as theoretical issues will be investigated; there will be assigned readings from a variety of fiction authors.
Creative Writing Honors Colloquium
This is a class for students working on their creative honors thesis. It will serve three main purposes: to support the writing of the thesis as well as the required essay that accompanies the thesis; to introduce students to a range of skills which support literary careers (writing reviews, editing publications, events and promotion, etc); and, if they are so inclined, to help prepare students to apply for graduate programs.