Creative Writing
EnglishCollege of Humanities and Social Sciences

Future Course Descriptions

ENGH 513: Writing the American Landscape - Steve Goodwin

We will read some of the foundational texts of American environmental literature. Of course, the writers didn’t see themselves as belonging to a movement; they were trying to express the dynamic interrelationship of the land and its inhabitants. The course is designed to survey perspectives on the American land from the earliest settlement to the present; explore how perception of our environment has been (and continues to be) shaped by inherited cultural paradigms; trace the ways that the “wilderness” inspired, awed, empowered, and challenged Americans, contributing to the idea of a national identity; increase our pleasure in and respect for the American landscape and its representations in literature, film, music, and the visual arts.

Some readings will be selected from the work of writers – Thoreau, Aldo Leopold – who played seminal roles in formulating an ethical attitude toward the environment. But we focus on more recent writers -- like Annie Dillard, Edward Abbey, Terry Tempest Williams, and Janisse Ray -- who address the political, economic, and aesthetic concerns that have increasingly become a part of any discussion about the American environment and landscape.


ENGH 608: Outside the Lines - Susan Shreve

Outside the Lines is a literature course addressing change and experiment in fiction. We will read books, primarily novels that reexamine the relationship of character to the environment including the use of language and the nature of structure.   Not exactly metafiction but there are an increasing number of novels for example that combine fiction and essay in an intimate conversational form that speaks to the fractured, unsettling times in which we live.  We will also for historical perspective read three or four classics—chosen among Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Woolf, Hemingway, Joyce.  Other books on the reading list might include Outline by Rachel Cusk,  The Tenth of December by George Saunders, Argonauts  by Maggie Nelson, The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes,  October by Ali Smith, Nutshell by Ian McEwan,  Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead,  Vampires in the Lemon Grove by  Karen Russell.,  The Emerald Light in the Air  by Donald Antrim.

There will be a final writing assignment in which you try your own fictional acrobatics in a short story or some facsimile of such.


ENGH 619: The Art of the Scene - Susan Shreve

This course defines itself. The building blocks of  fiction from short to long,  create a narrative of continuous scenes that may or may not be linear but do in any case create the tension, narrative drive, character development and ultimately the structure of you story.  In the course of 12-14 weeks you will write four related sets of three scenes  or three sets of four or one set of twelve.  You will in any case write a scene a week which will in turn be discussed in a workshop seminar with the goal that by the end of the semester you have a story or chapter  that you wish to develop.  


ENGH 619: Home and Away: Writing About Cultural Heritage - Kyoko Mori

This course will examine the art, craft, and ethics of portraying one’s own or others’ cultural heritage. How can we make our personal narrative understandable to the “general reader” who does not share the time, place, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, profession, etc. that form our sense of “cultural heritage” or “home”? How can we write about people who do not share these cultural or identity markers without misrepresenting them? Are the limits of what we can reveal, portray, speculate, and conclude different when we are writing about our own culture as opposed to someone else’s? We will consider these questions (and more) by reading books by writers who portrayed their own cultural background and by writers who portrayed someone else’s. The books may include: Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior, Anthony Bordain’s Kitchen Confidential, Esmeralda Santiago’s When I was Puerto Rican, Leanne Sharpton’s Swimming Studies, Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Peter Hessler’s River Town, and David Shields’ Black Planet. The second half of the semester will focus on the student’s own writing about “home” or “away,” in workshop discussions.

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