Autumn 2013 Courses

Attendance on the first day is mandatory for all classes.

Please note: All submissions should be double-spaced (except poetry) in Word documents using a 12-point standard font, accompanied by a brief (one-paragraph) statement of purpose. Include your name, class you are applying for, quarter/year, and indicate whether you are an undergrad, a MAPH student, or a PhD student (plus department) on the document. Please also indicate whether you are doing a CW minor or thesis.

With the exception of beginning and core courses, acceptance into courses is not automatic. The course instructor will contact you before the quarter begins to let you know whether you've been accepted.

Email the committee coordinator with questions.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: SEPTEMBER 16, 2013

Beginning Level Courses

Beginning Fiction Writing (CRWR 10200/30200, section 01)

Beginning Novel Writing: This is a class for anyone who’s interested in writing a novel and who wants the tools to get started. As a beginning class, we will focus especially on the early stages of both developing and writing a novel: choosing the POV, establishing the setting, developing the main characters and the dynamics between them, setting up the conflicts and seeding the themes of book, etc. As a class we will read, break down and discuss the architecture of three published novels as you work on your own opening chapter(s), which will be workshopped during the latter half of the course. 

Instructor: Augustus Rose. Day and Time: Tuesdays, 12:00 to 2:50 PM.

PQ: No prerequisites. Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. Complete this form to be placed on the waiting list if the class is full.  Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Beginning Fiction Writing (CRWR 10200/30200, section 02)

Books to Read if You Want to Write Fiction, the 1980s: Bright Lights, Big Egos: The 1980s witnessed a turning away from the experimental and postmodern fiction that dominated the late 1960s and 1970s and a return to realism. Sometimes called dirty realism, this new writing focused on everyday people and experiences and often cultivated a minimalist aesthetic. The influence of this aesthetic can still be seen in the content of contemporary literary magazines and creative writing workshops. Familiarity with this era is essential for an emerging fiction writer, and this course offers a survey of the era while staying focused on issues of craft and revision. Students will learn to read as writers as well as critics. We'll be looking at writing by Beattie, Carver, Ford, Gaitskill, Munro, and Wolff among others as well as the editorial career of Gordon Lish.

Instructor: Paul Durica. Day and Time: Wednesdays, 9:30 AM to 12:20 PM.

PQ: No prerequisites. Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. Complete this form to be placed on the waiting list if the class is full.  Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Beginning Fiction Writing (CRWR 10200/30200, section 03)

Introduction to Fiction Writing: This is a workshop-style course where students shall read a collection of mostly short stories by established masters (Poe, O’Connor, Carver, Hempel) and contemporary practitioners (Sherman Alexie, Anthony Doerr) and then workshop several pieces of their own fiction. Discussion will revolve around basic elements of story craft—point of view, pacing, character development, etc.—in an effort to define the ways in which a full narrative can be conveyed with economy, precision, and ultimately, power.

Instructor: Baird Harper. Day and Time: Thursdays, 12:00 to 2:50 PM

PQ: No prerequisites. Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. Complete this form to be placed on the waiting list if the class is full.  Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Beginning Poetry Writing (CRWR 10300/30300, section 01)

This course will be rich in original material-making. We will encounter the works of John Ashbery, Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Eleni Sikelianos, Catherine Theis, Frank O’Hara, Denise Levertov, George Oppen, W.S. Merwin, and Basho, among others. Braiding together readings of canonical writers, in-class writing assignments, and our reflection on student’s original poetry, we will develop as practitioners of the art. We will investigate human rituals as practices of meaning-making in various landscapes, and explore what it means to be in harmony and in tension with our natural world—what do rituals mean in terms of the art of being human? In order to create fruitful images and metaphors in our own original work, we will imagine poetry in deep relationship to a multitude of art forms (architecture, music, painting, dye transfer, décollage, the screenplay, monument building, etc.) through examining the works of, for example, Adolf Loos, Germaine Tailleferre, Joan Mitchell, Pierre Le Hors, Alec Soth, Aspen Mays, Chris Marker, Joseph Beuys and Adam Ekberg. One original poem will be due weekly.

Instructor: Jessica Savitz. Day and Time: Mondays, 9:30 AM to 12:20 PM

PQ: No prerequisites. Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. Complete this form to be placed on the waiting list if the class is full.  Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Beginning Poetry Writing (CRWR 10300/30300, section 02)

How many students begin poetry in a class? Even those who have yet to write poetry are filled with ideas about it. But in this workshop we shall strive forgetfully to begin as though we were the first poets, deciding on the principles we shall follow in fabricating poems and to what ends (if any). Exemplary reading will be introduced according to these decisions, as we create our poetic culture.

Instructor: John Wilkinson. Day and Time: Thursdays, 9:00 to 11:50 AM

PQ: No prerequisites. Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. Complete this form to be placed on the waiting list if the class is full.  Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Beginning Creative Nonfiction (CRWR 10400/30400)

How to Tell a True Story: In this class you can write about anything you want, in any way you want, as long as you adhere to the truth. What that truth is, only you (and we, your classmates) can say. Anecdotes, essays, memoirs, travelogues, character studies, and profiles are all welcome. So are reported and journalistic stories. Whatever form of nonfiction you choose, you will submit it to your classmates, who will edit and critique it. These critiques are not for the faint of heart. They require meticulous line editing, rigorous reflection, and total honesty. They require you to put as much work into your classmates’ stories as you do into your own. We have only ten weeks, so come to the first day of class with your ideas and work already underway and ready to share. Be prepared to finish three total rewrites of your story and to read and discuss published exemplars of the form. You will leave this class with the work sample and skills you will need to take more advanced workshops.

Instructor: Dan Raeburn. Day and Time: Wednesdays, 9:30 AM to 12:20 PM

PQ: No prerequisites. Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. Complete this form to be placed on the waiting list if the class is full.  Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Beginning Creative Nonfiction (CRWR 10402/30402)

Research for Creative Nonfiction Writers: Chicago Narratives – This course looks at creative nonfiction work that cannot be classified as memoir. Its purpose is to develop the research skills necessary for producing complicated and engaging narratives that extend beyond the direct experience of the writer. The first part of the course focuses on developing research methodologies, in particular those that relate to the use of special collections and archives. The second part uses the workshop format to further refine these methodologies and to produce a publishable work of creative nonfiction. The course includes visits to local research institutions and museums, such as the Newberry Library and the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, as well as discussions with contemporary nonfiction writers in the Chicago area. In order to explore the range of the genre and to keep this exploration focused, the course uses texts dealing with Chicago, which include but are not limited to Algren’s Chicago: City on the Make; Liebling, The Second City; Larson, The Devil in the White City; Abbott, Sin in the Second City; Green, Death in the Haymarket; Kotlowitz, There are No Children Here; Royko, Boss; D’Aramo, The Pig and the Skyscraper; and Terkel, Division Street: America.

Instructor: Paul Durica.  Day and Time: Mondays, 1:30 to 4:20 PM

PQ: No prerequisites. Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. Complete this form to be placed on the waiting list if the class is full.  Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Introduction to Genres (CRWR 12104)

“Chicago Story” Staged and Built: This course invites readers to explore the “Chicago story” through nontraditional forms, including graphic novel, documentary, and creative nonfiction.  We’ll begin by examining the work of Chris Ware, then move into various adaptations of “the Chicago story.”  Here, we’ll explore work by Gwendolyn Brooks, Stuart Dybek, Mike Royko, and Mike Shea to define points of artistic and geographic connection.  Participants will develop their own individual and collaborative projects that explore and adapt these forms.

Instructor:  Garin Cycholl. Day and Time: Thursdays, 6:00 to 8:50 PM.

Satisfies the College Arts/Music/Drama Core Requirement for undergraduates.

PQ: No prerequisites. Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. This course is not open to graduate students. Complete this form to be placed on the waiting list if the class is full.  Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Reading as a Writer: Chicago Genres “City on the Remake” (CRWR 12112)

This course invites writers to reconsider the influence of Chicago’s public spaces on genre and artistic form.  How does one tell a “Chicago story?”  Is the “City on the Re-Make” best told in prose or poem?  Will Chicago be the last newspaper town in the United States?  Is there a “Chicago epic?”  Working through these questions, students will analyze and explore Chicago writers’ work in prose and poetry.  Students will then develop their own creative responses, building connections to their adopted critical approaches.  To these ends, we will examine work by writers including Nelson Algren, Michael Anania, John Conroy, Stuart Dybek, and Lorraine Hansberry, as well as the city’s rich legacies in documentary film, the visual arts, and music.

Instructor: Garin Cycholl.  Day and Time: Wednesdays, 3:00-5:50 PM.

Satisfies the College Arts/Music/Drama Core Requirement for undergraduates.

PQ: No prerequisites. Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. This course is not open to graduate students. Complete this form to be placed on the waiting list if the class is full.  Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Intermediate-Level Courses

Intermediate Fiction Workshop (CRWR 12000/32000)

Intermediate Fiction Writing: This course will focus on developing and honing the narrative skills you’ve garnered already—either in a previous fiction writing class or on your own—so students coming into this course should already have a working knowledge of narrative craft. Through reading such writers as Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O’Connor, George Saunders, Aimee Bender, James Baldwin and others, we will discuss the finer points of character development, dialogue, narrative structure, POV and narrative distance, setting, tone, style and other elements of craft and you will put them to use in your own stories. The course will focus on the art of revision, and students will be expected to complete one story and several revisions of that story. As this will be a workshop-focused course, critical and thoughtful participation in class discussion is required. In additions, expect to turn in your work several times to be discussed in an honest and constructive manner by the entire class.

Instructor: Augustus Rose.  Day and Time: Wednesdays, 1:30-4:20 PM

PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit writing sample, and a paragraph of intent, through online form at creativewriting.uchicago.edu . Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Creative Nonfiction: The Ekphrastic Essay (CRWR 14005/34005)

Ekphrasis is the act of replicating the experience of one art form in another medium. In this class we’ll be trying to write essays that behave like paintings, essays that work like pop songs, essays that elicit aesthetic responses normally reserved for sculpture. We will read Mark Doty’s Still Life with Lemon and Oysters, Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, and Kevin Young’s The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness.  We will also be reading poets and fiction writers who’ve used ekphrastic techniques in their work.

Instructor: David MacLean.  Day and Time: Tuesdays, 3:00-5:50 PM

PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit writing sample, and a paragraph of intent, through online form at creativewriting.uchicago.edu . Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Advanced-Level Courses

Advanced Fiction: Exploring Your Boundaries (CRWR 22110/42110)

This advanced fiction workshop is for students who have taken Beginning or Intermediate Fiction Writing and produced a body of work, large or small, that reflects their developing aesthetic.  Our workshops will focus on the fundamentals of craft like language, voice, and plot and character development, but with an eye also on expanding the formal possibilities in our storytelling.  To that end, we’ll examine the work of writers (Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar, Donald Barthelme, David Foster Wallace, Alice Munro, Tim O’Brien, et al.) who experiment with form, who unravel the rules of the “well-made story” and reconfigure it in order to present their unique vision of the world—an encouragement for you not necessarily to be “experimental” writers, but to explore more meaningful, memorable, and perhaps innovative ways of telling your own stories.  For the course, you will complete one full-length story, which you will present for class critique, and then write a significant revision of that story, which you will either present for a second workshop or turn into me at the end of the quarter.  

Instructor: Vu Tran. Day and Time: Tuesdays, 3:00 to 5:50 PM

PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit writing sample, and a paragraph of intent, through online form at creativewriting.uchicago.edu . Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Advanced Poetry Workshop: Pound and Bunting (CRWR 23108/43108)

In this workshop, the work of Ezra Pound and Basil Bunting, one of Pound’s primary disciples, will serve to guide our lessons and experiments. By way of a close reading of Pound’s poetry and a scrutiny of his poetic practices, as well as a close reading of Bunting’s poetry, including his lyrics and long-form poems, students will generate poetry making use of techniques derived from Pound and Bunting, including lyric inventions, odes, Imagist and Vorticist experiments, para-translation, mythic re-enactment, song forms, rhymes, and polemics. The goal of this workshop is to come away from the works of Pound and Bunting with an understanding functioning at the level of composition, enacted in your own poems. Additionally, we will read prose by both poets, to which you will attempt responses. Texts include Ezra Pound’s New Selected Poems, selections from his literary essays, and Bunting’s Complete Poems.

Instructor: Peter O’Leary. Day and Time: Tuesdays, 12:00 to 2:50 PM.

PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit writing sample, and a paragraph of intent, through online form at creativewriting.uchicago.edu . Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Picturing Words/Writing Images (Studio) (CRWR 26341)

What is the relationship between reading and looking?  Images in mind, and images on paper – words in mind and on the page – we will explore the intersection of these different ways to think, read, and look, as we make poems, drawings, paintings etc. We will investigate the problem of representing language as it is expressed in the work produced in class. Studying works by contemporary visual artists like Jenny Holzer and Ann Hamilton, and practicing poets such as Susan Howe and Tom Phillips will inform our investigation. The course will feature visits to our studio by contemporary poets and visual artists, who will provide critiques of student work and discussion of their own ongoing projects.  These visitors will help to frame our artistic and literary practice within the ongoing conversation between word and image in modern culture.  We will ask, what are the cognitive, phenomenological, social, and aesthetic consequences of foregrounding the pictorial/visual aspect of alphabetical characters?  

Instructor(s): Jessica Stockholder, Skrihanth Reddy. Day and Time: Wednesdays, 1:30 to 4:20 PM

PQ: Third- or fourth-year standing. Previous experience in an arts studio or creative writing workshop recommended, but not required.