Undergraduate Creative Writing Courses

Spring 2022

ENGL 20000-01-03
Introduction to Creative Writing

Naima Msechu
MW 9:30-10:45
Section 01 - Seniors
Section 02 - Unallocated
Section 03 - Freshmen

In his essay, “On Becoming an American Writer,” Alexander Chee asserts that, “To write is to sell a ticket to escape, not from the truth, but into it.” This class will provide an introduction to writing texts that orchestrate an escape into the truth, whatever the truth may be for each writer and in each text. Over the course of the semester, we will read and analyze pieces of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction from a wide array of authors, paying attention to elements of craft in order to investigate how the texts are facilitating escapes into various truths that range from the personal to the societal (often blending the two) and that engage with themes like race, gender, sexuality, and class. Our analyses will inform our endeavors as we practice writing texts in these three literary genres, and as we learn to constructively workshop each other’s texts. Students can expect to leave class with a portfolio of polished work and a strengthened understanding of their own writing and how it relates to that of others. Writers we may read include Julio Cortázar, Octavia Butler, Haruki Murakami, Natalie Diaz, Solmaz Sharif, C.D. Wright, Alexander Chee, Zadie Smith, Roxane Gay, and others.

 

ENGL 20000-04-06
Introduction to Creative Writing
Phillip Spinella
Section 04 - Seniors
Section 05 - Unallocated
Section 06 - Freshmen

In this class, we will read fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction from authors whose works exist all along the stylistic spectrum, and we will analyze the selected pieces with an eye towards the aesthetic and technical choices that together create compelling writing. What these works all have in common is both their author’s impeccable control of their craft and their ability to address issues fundamental to the way we interact with our world.  By discussing them together we will open a window into the numerous possibilities and approaches open to you as creative writers, which you will put into practice when you create your own pieces and workshop them with your classmates.

To give you a sense of what we will be reading over the course of the semester, selections will include at least some of the following: the ‘autofiction’ of Rachel Cusk; Julian Barnes’ Flaubert’s Parrot, a hybrid work of fiction/biography/literary criticism; Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, a work that exists somewhere in the spectrum between prose and poetry; Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings; short stories by Carme Maria Machado, George Saunders, and Rion Amalcar Scott; poetry by, among others, Derek Walcott, Kay Ryan, and Mark Strand; and creative non-fiction by Zadie Smith and David Foster Wallace. 

You can expect to leave this class with a portfolio of polished work, and, hopefully, the tools and desire to continue improving your own writing in the future.

 

ENGL 20001-01-03
Introduction to Fiction Writing
Xavier Navarro Aquino 
MW 2:00-3:15
Section 01 - Seniors
Section 02 - Unallocated
Section 03 - Freshmen

Introduction to Fiction Writing is a course designed to familiarize students to literary fiction and the craft in writing short stories. We will work through the model of the traditional workshop and find ways to challenge the conventional. What I mean by this is looking at how the standard method of reading and critiquing succeeds, and ways it may fail an individual aesthetic. By reading work from a diverse and varied list of writers, we will feed on art to understand the mechanization of a particular story and/or aesthetic. Students will be expected to participate in robust conversations, lead discussion framing exercises, and analyze both work from their peers via the workshop method while also studying the ways classic and/or contemporary writers succeed in telling a story. As a result of taking this course, students will be able to explain how narrative fiction may inform cross-cultural understandings to arrive toward greater empathy, while undertaking the limitations of conventional craft, demonstrate the translation of a particular idea or premise and execute it through the form of fiction, and identify when a story is effective in achieving the goals it imposes through an individualized read.

 

ENGL 20001-04-06
Introduction to Fiction Writing

Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi
MW 11:00-12:15
Section 04 - Seniors
Section 05 - Unallocated
Section 06 - Freshmen

This lively class introduces you to the writing of fiction. Students will study published works in various media, try their hands at writing in an array of forms and genres, share their work with others, and receive feedback that lets them improve their craft. By the end of the semester, you will have a facility with the forms, genres, and media of contemporary writing, a portfolio of work to build on in other courses or on your own. Please see the English Department website for an individualized description for each section of this course.

 

ENGL 20001-07-09
Introduction to Fiction Writing

Austyn Wohlers
MW 11:00-12:15
Section 07 - Seniors
Section 08 - Unallocated
Section 09 - Freshmen

When asked what made her become a writer, Clarice Lispector answered “I write to save someone’s life, probably my own.” The aim of this course is to develop our own styles, voices, rules, logics, and aesthetic visions, and to learn to constructively discuss each other’s work not according to how writing it “supposed” to look, but by how coherently it unfurls from its own premises. In doing so, we too will learn to save ourselves and others through art, and materialize our ideas, feelings, experiences, and daydreams in the world. Students will leave this course with an understanding of themselves as young artists and critics in dialogue with the whole of the literary world; they will also leave with an incipient understanding of their own artistic priorities, a critical eye, and a modest body of work.

ENGL 20002-01-03
Introduction to Poetry Writing
Jillian Fantin
MW 5:05-6:20
Section 01 - Seniors
Section 02 - Unallocated
Section 03 - Freshmen

The late German-American poet and novelist Charles Bukowski stated, “Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.” Poetry allows for truths to be revealed when every other medium falls short of the task. In addition to providing an understanding of contemporary poetry, Intro to Poetry will explore the different ethical, political, cultural, historical, and social truths in which poets root their work. Through reading the works of diverse poets and workshopping each other’s pieces, this course will provide you with an understanding of poetic techniques, teach you how to read poems from the perspective of a writer, and improve your abilities in regards to textual analysis and the offering and accepting of constructive criticism for you and your peer’s own work. Additionally, this class will be based in a foundation of anti-racist pedagogy and active participatory learning from every member of the class, including myself, as we develop an understanding of your own aesthetic value and judgements. Just like poetry, we will be rejecting traditional academic hierarchy in favour of equitable active learning, ensuring that every individual in the course has ample opportunity to develop their personal poet profile and exit the course equipped with a deeper understanding of poetry and a small collection of their own work.

 

ENGL 20002-07-09
Introduction to Poetry Writing

Joyelle McSweeney
TR 12:30-1:45
Section 04 - Seniors
Section 05 - Unallocated
Section 06 - Freshmen

This course invites you to build on the basics, develop your technical abilities, and broaden your approaches to the form, genres, media, language, and performance of contemporary poetry. Students should expect to read and view works from a variety of periods and cultures, and will generate their own poems in response to course readings and prompts as well as their own impromptu in-class writing. Students will also sharpen their critical vocabulary as they analyze assigned readings, critique peer work, and receive critiques of their poems from both peers and instructor. Specific readings, activities and assignments will differ from section to section.

 

ENGL 30851
Poetry Writing
Orlando Menes
MW 11:00-12:15

This is a course for students who are ready to immerse themselves in the strange contagious waters of poetry. We'll read across regions, languages, communities and time periods to connect to poetry's aesthetic, formal, and political urgencies and possibilities, and we'll write an array of poems of our own. Expect to write individual lyrics as well as prose poems, letters, verse plays, sound poems, collages, remixes, performance pieces, and verse plays, and to poke around in the traditional and digital media by which poems have been shared. I'll expect you to write in- and out-of-class poems, work collaboratively on group projects and translations, present, perform, participate, offer kind supportive feedback on peer work, and propose and execute a final project of your own devising. Attendance is mandatory.

 

ENGL 30853
Fiction Writing 
Dionne Bremyer
MW 12:30-1:45

In this course we will examine and engage in the craft complexities demanded of the writer who turns history into fiction. We will consider how both the distant and the recent pasts can inspire stories and the creative process more generally. When, where, why, and how do facts abet and/or intrude upon the creation of plot, character, place, framing, rhythm, and other details of style in novels and stories?

Students will consider “story” and “telling” in a theoretical sense and observe how knowledge is constructed by way of social histories, art, politics, and literatures through numerous resources and activities such (critical reading, discussion, archival research, record-keeping, visual art, meditation, journaling, writing studio work, revision, and so on.)

This course is designed for those who have completed the introductory creative writing courses.

 

ENGL 40850
Advanced Fiction Writing 
Xavier Navarro Aquino
MW 3:30-4:45

An advanced workshop for students with a serious commitment to writing fiction. This course will look to examine contemporary conversations regarding race, diaspora, trauma, and ecological disaster, for us to - as Chris Abani notes - redress the art of an existential wound. We will read a range of contemporary authors, either story collections or novels. Discussions will also include contemporary publishing practices, placing work in literary journals, and pursuing writing beyond undergraduate study i.e., graduate programs. By reading as practitioners of the art of fiction, students will engage in productive critiques via antiracist workshop practices and lead class discussion framing. Students may write short stories or workshop excerpts from longer projects. The emphasis will be the individualized reading of student work with the goal to refine their authorial “voice.”

 

ENGL 40851
Advanced Poetry Writing
Johannes Goransson
MW 2:00-3:15

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.

 

ENGL 40852
Advanced Fiction Writing II
Xavier Navarro Aquino
MW 3:30-4:45

This course is intended for students who have already taken Advanced Fiction Writing and who are seriously interested in writing fiction.

An advanced workshop for students with a serious commitment to writing fiction. This course will look to examine contemporary conversations regarding race, diaspora, trauma, and ecological disaster, for us to - as Chris Abani notes - redress the art of an existential wound. We will read a range of contemporary authors, either story collections or novels. Discussions will also include contemporary publishing practices, placing work in literary journals, and pursuing writing beyond undergraduate study i.e., graduate programs. By reading as practitioners of the art of fiction, students will engage in productive critiques via antiracist workshop practices and lead class discussion framing. Students may write short stories or workshop excerpts from longer projects. The emphasis will be the individualized reading of student work with the goal to refine their authorial “voice.”

 

ENGL 40855
Advanced Fiction Writing III
Xavier Navarro Aquino
MW 3:30-4:45

This course is intended for students who have already taken Advanced Fiction Writing and who are seriously interested in writing fiction.

An advanced workshop for students with a serious commitment to writing fiction. This course will look to examine contemporary conversations regarding race, diaspora, trauma, and ecological disaster, for us to - as Chris Abani notes - redress the art of an existential wound. We will read a range of contemporary authors, either story collections or novels. Discussions will also include contemporary publishing practices, placing work in literary journals, and pursuing writing beyond undergraduate study i.e., graduate programs. By reading as practitioners of the art of fiction, students will engage in productive critiques via antiracist workshop practices and lead class discussion framing. Students may write short stories or workshop excerpts from longer projects. The emphasis will be the individualized reading of student work with the goal to refine their authorial “voice.”