Graduate Fiction Workshop Valerie Sayers
Spring 2013: The major work of the semester will be the analysis, appreciation, and critique of our own fiction and nonfiction manuscripts in light of contemporary literary concerns. Because we work in two major genres (as well as hybrid and in-between forms), we’ll certainly examine the aesthetic and even ethical implications of labeling work ‘fiction’ or ‘nonfiction,’ and we’ll be particularly interested in the innovations that cross-pollination might encourage. All semester long, we’ll commiserate over the state of contemporary mainstream publishing, but we’ll also celebrate and encourage against-the-odds, online, and alternative success. Readings will include Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her; Marilynne Robinson, Gilead; George Saunders, Pastoralia and The Braindead Megaphone; Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story; and Zadie Smith, The Book of Other People and Changing My Mind.

Graduate Poetry Workshop Susan Ramsey
Spring 2013: This workshop's goal will be differentiation, offering techniques for students to sound more like themselves and less like one another -- or anyone else. To this end we will read and discuss packets of the critical essays and poems by a wide range of contemporary poets, reacting, discussing and heckling their approaches and convictions, getting a sense of the ongoing conversation about poetry. We will return all semester to a consideration of humor as a strategy in the serious poem. Students will be required to experiment with form, both fixed and open, in order to nudge their work beyond first impulses into more interesting landscapes and to investigate the tension between impulse and order. Revision will be a weekly concern, not an afterthought; students will be assigned a range of specific approaches, with an eye to making revision an ongoing process of exploration rather than an exercise in reverse engineering. With that in mind, workshop participation will be on asking useful questions about the work under consideration, resisting the lure of offering solutions. Texts will include, but will not be limited to Seriously Funny by Kirby and Hamby, The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo, The Art of Recklesness by Dean Young, and Written on Water, Written on Stone ed. Martin Lammon.