Undergraduate Creative Writing Courses
Introduction to Creative Writing
This course will introduce you to writing fiction and poetry. We will explore several types of poetry, including but not limited to ekphrasis, epistolary poetry, and erasure. We will experiment with different elements of fiction (characterization, plot and structure, scene and summary, points of view, voice, setting, and dialogue), and learn about how to utilize these elements effectively in narratives. We will read poetry and fiction written by a diverse group of poets and fiction writers, and examine their techniques.
Introduction to Creative Writing
Introduction to Poetry Writing
In Introduction to Poetry Writing, I invite you to develop an intimate, intellectual and social relationship to poetry. Roland Barthes, in his “Death of the Author,” says: “writing is the destruction of every voice, of every distinct point of origin.” As we acquire an understanding of and relationship to the elements of poetry, we will explore the relationship between creation and destruction as they inform and are informed by the art form. We will work to understand and relate to poetry through reading collected works, as well as critical essays, which we will respond to. We will generate new work, engage in collective discussion to further our words’ trajectory (i.e., “workshop”) and, ultimately, complete mini-portfolios as artifacts of our shared learning and engagement with the written word.
Introduction to Fiction Writing
MW 8-9:15 AM
Class motto: “Writers make decisions.” In this class, we will read and write literary fiction (whatever that means), with a primary focus on crafting the short story. We will investigate, in both the published stories we will read and in our own work, the “architecture” that an author implements — this will include but is not limited to the relationship between back-story and front-story, different points of view, modes of narrative, and how an author transitions between those modes. We will read as writers, and write with intention ourselves. At the end of the course, we will know why we wrote each paragraph the way we did, why it arrives when it does in the story, and the function it serves for the piece overall. We will know well what to consider when we sit down and write, and how to make the decisions we make on the page.
Introduction to Fiction Writing
In this course, students will learn techniques to aid in the crafting of stories inspired from both life and imagination. We will explore components of short story writing such as: plot, setting, character, description, point of view, dialogue, tone, voice and symbol. Class time will be spent analyzing fiction, talking craft, and giving feedback on each other’s work. Come prepared to read with intention and to write with vigor. Together we will build a writing community where everyone’s vision is taken seriously. Artistic support is a key component to the success of this classroom. What you say matters. What you create matters. With a heavy emphasis on drafting and revision, this course will provide students with the tools to better understand fiction writing.
Fiction Writing and the American 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.
Non-Fiction Writing: Style and Fact
The quality that separates creative nonfiction from workaday prose is style. The quality that separates nonfiction from fiction is fact. In this course, we dive right into the complicated relationship between style and fact through Gonzo journalism, made-up memoir, ambiguous essays, and second-hand dream gossip, rigorously attending to well-wrought examples while also practicing our own exercises in style. Texts will include work by John D'Agata, Walter Benjamin, Vladimir Nabokov, Susan Sontag, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Beyoncé, Omer Fast, Samuel Delaney, and others.
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.
Fiction Writing: Fantastic Worlds
Hogwarts, Middle Earth, Westeros, Panem: every story starts somewhere. How do you build a compelling world that's not just backdrop, but part of the story? In this reading-intensive fiction workshop, you'll learn to create vivid and dynamic worlds, embed those worlds in your characters' thoughts, and bring those worlds to life through your characters' actions. While focusing primarily on fantastic, speculative, and weird fiction, this workshop will help you develop the skills you need to make any world breathe on the page - even this one. Readings will include work from William Blake, Kelly Link, George R.R. Martin, Nnedi Okorafor, Laurie Penny, J.K. Rowling, and Jeff VanderMeer.
Advanced Fiction Writing
This is a course in writing fiction for students who have moved beyond the introductory level, and are looking for a way to come into their own as authors. The course focuses on the development of individual student-authors, and so asks them to develop an awareness of contemporary fiction and exemplify, through their own writing, their place in this literary landscape. Just as it is difficult to be a musician without seeing other live musicians play, or a visual artist without looking at the art, ideas, and methods of other working artists, so it is difficult to be an author without reading as authors read, and interacting in the conversation of other, living practitioners. As such, students are asked to identify a literary “conversation” or tradition, or family of works that their own writing extends and/or takes part in; they are asked to think of fiction in terms of the forms they use and how this form will contribute to the aesthetic experience and ideas they are striving to convey. No one style or type of fiction is advocated over another; in fact, students are encouraged to find their own voice, perspective, and subject matter, and to develop a form suited to their work. However, students will be expected to write fiction that demonstrates awareness of the difference between writing as an art form and formula entertainment. The goal of the course is for each student to emerge with a manuscript at the level of a beginning author writing as a literary artist.
Advanced Poetry Writing
This is a class for students with some background in poetry. We will write & read intensively & widely, exploring what it means to write, read & publish poetry in an era of small-press & Internet publishing, cross-genre & cross-media explorations (poems that invoke film or novels or essays for example). The class will ask for extensive independent work, as students will work on their poems & develop their portfolios. Part of the class time will be spent discussing readings, but much of it will consist of discussing student work. We will develop an artistic, creative & supportive community to help each student grow as readers & writers. The course is ideal for students who are thinking about applying to graduate programs, or for students who simply want to hone their skills in a supportive but dynamic environment.
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.
Advanced Poetry Writing II
This course is intended for students who have already taken Advanced Poetry Writing and who are seriously interested in writing poetry. 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.
Advanced Fiction Writing III
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.
ENGL 40930/ ENGL 90930
& Now: Literature as Contemporary Art
&NOW is a course focused on writing as a contemporary art form. We’ll be reading novels, short stories, and poetry in which authors have done what authors always do: deform language in order to transform ordinary speech into art. But anyone who steps away from the bestseller lists can see that the literary landscape is just as wild as that of visual art, just as varied: poems in the forms of installations, performance, and demonstrations, or written by machines; novels in the form of dioramas; stories told as recipes or tattoos, poems in skywriting or genetic code, pixels, skin—as well as the printed book. &NOW will take up print novels, print short fiction and poetry as well as electronic writing, and other hybrid forms that push their politics, develop their ideas, or create reading experiences through an exploration of language and/or materials. Sometimes called experimental, conceptual, avant-garde, hybrid, postmodern, innovative, extreme, alternative, electronic, anti-, or new literature, we will read a range of works from the early years of this century to the present. Students will be encouraged to engage with this work either through writing about it, or contributing to it as the course will be held in conjunction with the &NOW Festival of Writing as a Contemporary Art to be held at Notre Dame (visit https://www.andnow2018.com/). Our readings will include prose, poetry, hypermedia and writing of indeterminate breed from authors visiting campus for the festival as well as others. A potential reading list includes Mark Z. Danielewski House of Leaves, Claudia Rankine, Citizen; David Clark, 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein <www.88constellations.net/88.html; Salvador Placencia, People of Paper; Nam Le, “The Boat” <www.sbs.com.au/theboat/>; The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud; Ann Carson, Nox; and others….
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.