Creative Writing
EnglishCollege of Humanities and Social Sciences

Future Course Descriptions

ENGH 608 - Second-Year Salon with Courtney Brkic: Intended to prepare second-year MFA Fiction students for thesis work (typically undertaken during the third year), this class will act as a creative incubator for the most important project of your degree. Whether or not you have already found your subject matter, decided upon a format or begun work on your thesis, you will define your focus, prepare a proposal you can live with and start/continue writing. Discussions will focus on current issues in fiction, a handful of assigned texts and a short reading list that each student will devise according to her/his interests. In-class writing will be a component of this course but our final weeks will be devoted to workshopping your thesis starts – whether fully-formed or embryonic – so that you can hit the ground running.

ENGH 608 - Poetics of Space with Sally Keith: Framed by Gaston Bachelard’s Poetic of Space, this course will be a consideration of ways in which encountering a multitude of spaces may invigorate writing.  “Art, then, is an increase of life, a sort of competition of surprises that stimulates our consciousness and keeps it from becoming somnolent,” writes Bachelard; likewise, this course will strive toward the exploration of spaces, interior and exterior.  Open to prose writers and poets, the course will combine class discussion (focused variously:  on architecture, on silence, on shadows, on huts, on memory, on bridges, on dream) and weekly workshops, as well as a presentation of a final project.  Texts will likely include: Gaston Bachelard, Lisa Robertson, Ronald Johnson, Gustaf Sobin, Suzanne Buffam, and Jun'ichirō Tanizaki.

ENGH 619 - Writing Childhood and Adolescence with Courtney Brkic: This course will examine how fiction approaches the “tender years”, the “awkward stage”, and “teen angst”. Authors are likely to include Stuart Dybek, Jo Ann Beard and Claire Keegan, among others. Fiction will be the focus, but nonfiction work is also welcome. Student writing – in-class exercises, writing assignments and workshopping – is a major component of this class.

ENGH 619: Writing After Reading in Translation with Jen Atkinson: This course will ask you to read a wide variety of poetries in translation. We will begin an introduction to the art of translation, then turn to an anthology of twentieth-century European and South American writers, and finally slow down to look more closely at the Polish poet Anna Swir and the Cuban poet Dulce Maria Loynaz. Each week we will respond to the reading with our own poems. Maybe we’ll even be able to think again and freshly about what poems can do and how and why they bother to do so. Students will take turns writing prompts and presenting poems for critique, and everyone will write a poem every week. This course is meant to expose you to poets you might not have read before and to be generative of lots of new drafts.

ENGH 685 - The New Mixed Form with Peter Streckfus: Mixed form writing such as Basho’s Narrow Road to the North, poet Anne Carson’s Kinds of Water, and novelist Carol Maso’s AVA redefines the boundaries of the poetic line and the prose paragraph by alternating both forms in single work, a strategy that takes advantage of their manifold functions. But why the apparent renaissance of mixed form writing in the past twenty years? What are the purposes of verse and prose today, when prose, which long ago superseded verse in narrative function, now often lays claim to lyric function? And how do these changes in purpose play into the shifts in perspective, voice, and positioning of the “I” and author we see in contemporary mixed form writing? Students will pursue answers to these questions and more as they examine contemporary and historical examples of mixed form writing, write brief critical essays about those examples, create writing prompts for one another, and present original mixed form work produced in response to reading and discussion. After the first six weeks, students will also form committees to select readings (from a list provided by the instructor) and lead class discussion.

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