Creative Writing Courses
Introduction to Creative Writing
This course will introduce you to the craft of writing poetry and fiction. Thus, you will study the language, forms, techniques, and conventions of poetry and 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 and enriching for you. A large part of the semester will be devoted to the writing and sharing of exercises and original creative works in a workshop setting.
Introduction to Fiction Writing
Students will begin their approach to crafting fiction of all shapes and sizes with exercises, readings, and classroom discussions geared toward stretching notions of what fiction can look like, who and how it can touch and investigate those around us, and how it relates to other fine arts. Readings will range from flash fiction, short stories, novel sections, and even some science fiction, including old and recent work from writers of all different backgrounds working with prose. Aside from learning a process for creating rich works of fiction, this course is designed to help students approach texts and art of all kinds from a practitioner's perspective, giving students more ways to understand the world around them.
Introduction to Poetry Writing: Pop! Goes the Poetry!
This course is designed to be an introduction to the craft of poetry. A large part of this course is focused on developing critical reading skills, in addition to creating and revising our own works, so we will read a range of contemporary poets, including Lara Glenum, Carmen Giminez-Smith, Douglas Kearney, and more. Our aim will be to understand how the various techniques and genres enable poets to produce works that speak to us, push us to think, and even champion social change. However, we will not limit ourselves to the page, as we will also examine popular culture and media that will help us analyze ourselves and our writings. We will look at films, TV shows, and music videos for inspiration as well, such as Nicki Minaj, Barbra Streisand, and more. This course emphasizes close reading of the texts, and there will be frequent writing assignments.
Fiction Writing: American Fictions: The Art of the Short Story
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
In this introductory course we will focus on 1) reading traditional and innovative 20th and 21st century American short stories and 2) on workshopping original student writing. In order to examine the range of narrative strategies available to us as writers, we will read speculative, meta-fictional, hyper-real and surreal fictions, as well as essays on the art of writing. Throughout the course of the semester students will develop as story-tellers, and will learn to read as writers and critique work-in-progress.
In this course, you will read, create and critique fiction of various styles, content and forms. We will discuss how stories are doing what they are doing and use this discussion to explore different elements of fiction. This course is meant as a space for exploration and experimentation. The goal is to see what is possible, what others have done and how they have done it, and to use this to generate texts of your own that breathe a little more strongly for it.
Sylvia Plath said, “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” In this course, students will cultivate creative self-confidence through the practice of writing, reading, sharing, and thoughtfully critiquing works of fiction.
Students will begin with writing exercises in style and form and ultimately produce complete drafts and revisions of short stories. Readings in a wide selection of modern and contemporary literature will provide a working critical vocabulary, and introduce students to a diversity of narrative strategies: of the innumerable ways stories are told and are yet to be told.
Poetry in the 21st century is not dead: instead, it’s undead, a morphing thing which inhabits and moves through an entire spectrum of media, from online platforms to live performances to good old fashioned books. In this class, you’ll be introduced to the variety of contemporary poetry, the way poetry’s forms and voices have been complicated and expanded by new media and audiences, and the sometimes surprising ways poetry continues to connect to canonical texts and forms. You’ll learn to read as a writer; to devise, revise, and perform poems; to respond to peer work with insight and ingenuity; and to develop a small selection of poems which is uniquely your own.
Fiction Writing for Majors
This will be a workshop course devoted to the writing of shorter fiction. A good bit of flexibility will be retained (depending upon the level of experience of students who elect the course), but what students may expect is this: brief assignments, at the start, will be made to encourage-- and to display--the development of a variety of narrative and fictional techniques. Beyond those exercises, two stories (and two revisions) will be required. Student stories will be duplicated. There will be collateral readings from significant contemporary writers. Regular attendance and participation will be taken for granted. More than casual interest in writing and fiction is expected. Individual conferences will be arranged to discuss student stories.
Poetry Writing (formerly Poetry for Majors, now open to all!)
In this class, we are going to write poetry, think about poetry and talk about poetry. We’re going to use a variety of approaches to a wide range of texts: We’re going to read modern, contemporary and not-so-contemporary poetry, as well as works that move across genres (prose poetry, poetic film, music videos), 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.
Fiction Writing: Walking, Writing, Thinking
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi
In her book Wonderlust: A History of Walking, Rebecca Sulnit writes “The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts.” In this course we will examine notions of journey, space and subjectivity through the lens of walking. We will look at representations of walking in a variety of genres—essay, graphic novel, fiction, prose and poetry—and use the practice of walking as a platform to write provocative texts that contemplate gender, the body, architecture, evolution, language, philosophy, music and film. Students will engage with course themes and motifs by writing fictions, poems and essays of their own.
Caribbean Literature: From the Conquest to Post-Modernity is an undergraduate-level introduction to this regional literature, whether in English or in translation, and to the exciting ideas found in post-colonial theory. One important question that will be asked throughout the semester is whether these texts construct a single and unified Caribbean identity, despite the region?s obvious linguistic, cultural, and racial heterogeneity. Writers whose texts we will be reading include Bartolomé de Las Casas, Shakespeare, Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, Jean Rhys, Alejo Carpentier, Claude McCay, Aimé Cesaire, and Derek Walcott.
Advanced Fiction Writing
This is a course in writing short fiction for students who have moved beyond the introductory level. It is conducted through a discussion format centered on fiction written by students in the class, in the context of the prose and poetry being written and published by contemporary authors outside of class. Students will be encouraged to think of fiction in terms of the form used to express it: how form creates aesthetic experience and conveys ideas. No one style or type of fiction is advocated over another; in fact, students are encouraged to find their own perspective, their own subject matter. However, students will be expected to write fiction that demonstrates an awareness of the difference between serious literature and formula entertainment. Over the semester, students will be asked to develop a writing project (e.g. a collection of short fiction; a novella; or portion of a novel) and present it for class discussion. Alongside the fiction written by students in the class, we will be reading a variety of published fiction that emphasizes solutions working writers have used to address narrative issues, and /or stretch traditional boundaries (fiction by, for example, Lynne Tillman, Michael Martone, Lydia Davis). Additional work will include: a detailed critique of each piece submitted for discussion, analysis of reading assignments, and attendance at readings given by visiting authors. At the end of the term, students will turn in a portfolio of the stories they have written and revised during the semester.