Autumn 2015

Fundamentals Courses

Fundamentals of Fiction

CRWR 10205 / 30205

This beginning workshop is designed to encourage and refine your skills in writing fiction.  Ideally, it will also refine you as a reader and a critic.  We will approach every work of fiction we read, whether published or workshopped, from the writer’s perspective: in terms of form, character, and language and how the writer succeeds, fails, or innovates in these areas.  And since fiction, like any art, is essentially an expression of who we are and how we see the world, we will also begin developing our individual voices as writers.  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.  The course will also include a series of writing exercises and readings in canonical and contemporary short fiction, all intended to stoke your creativity and illuminate the aesthetic traditions that inform your work.

Instructor: Baird Harper

Day and Time: Thursdays 12:00–2:50 PM

PQ: Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. No prerequisite required. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. If class is full, complete the Online Consent Form.

Fundamentals of Fiction: CW Track

CRWR 10255 / 30255

This course will be roughly one-half lecture/discussion and one-half creative exercises and workshopping of student work. We'll read and analyze primarily contemporary short fiction by writers like Edward P. Jones, Deborah Eisenberg, Ben Fountain, Daniel Orozco, Mary Gaitskill, and William Gay. Discussions will tend to be focused around one particular subject each week: setting, dialogue, perspective, etc. We'll also address more subtle concepts like psychic distance, free-indirect style, and movement through time. Students will present their own work to the group for critique and discussion. We'll seek to both hone our skills as attentive readers and to further develop as writers of clear, sophisticated prose. This course is open to all students but will give priority to those who are interested in pursuing the Creative BA or Creative Writing Minor. Unlike normal Fundamentals courses, this class is not open bid and requires submission of a writing sample and the consent of the instructor.

Instructor: Gus Rose

Day and Time: Tuesdays, 10:30–1:20 PM

PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit writing sample. Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.

 

Fundamentals of Poetry

CRWR 10305 / 30305

Based on the premise that successful experimentation stems from a deep understanding of tradition, this course will help students gain a foundation in poetic constructions while encouraging risk-taking in expression and craft. It will expose students to ways that poets have both employed and resisted patterns in meter, line, and rhyme, and it will ask students to experiment with constraints as a way of playing with formal limitations in their own poems. Students will also explore innovations in diction, syntax, and voice, and apply what they learn from these investigations in workshop discussions. While delving into work by both canonical and emerging poets, students will draft and revise a significant portfolio of their own poems.

Instructor: Jessica Savitz

Day and Time: Thursdays, 9:00–11:50 AM

PQ: Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. No prerequisite required. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. If class is full, complete the Online Consent Form.

Fundamentals of Nonfiction

CRWR 10405 / 30405

In this workshop you are free to write about anything at all as long as you do so in an intimate and personal, rather than academic, voice. To that end you will try your hand at a true story—be it a memoir, travelogue, anecdote, character study, essay or argument—and submit it to your classmates, who will edit and critique it. Together we will refine our narratives and our prose, primarily by insisting on rigorous reflection and total honesty. Finding your voice takes time, but we have only ten weeks. So come to the first day of class with ideas and work already underway and ready to share. Be prepared to finish three total rewrites of your work in progress. We will also read and discuss published exemplars of the form. You will leave this class with a polished work sample to use for admission to more advanced courses.

Instructor: Dan Raeburn

Day and Time: Wednesdays, 9:30–12:20 PM

PQ: Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. No prerequisite required. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. If class is full, complete the Online Consent Form.

Fundamentals of Nonfiction: CW Track

CRWR 10455 / 30455

The personal essay is the fundamental form of so-called creative nonfiction. Unlike fiction, the essay doesn’t derive its narrative power from actions, events, or plot. Although it can use a chain of events, it’s essentially a train of thought; like thought, it’s elastic, protean, almost indefinable. It’s the ideal vehicle for clarifying and challenging your own thinking, as well as the assumptions of our culture and time. This is a workshop, so you and your classmates will provide most of our texts. You’ll submit your work-in-progress, which we’ll help you to revise. Every week we’ll also read published exemplars of the form, beginning with the essay’s origins in Sumer and ending in the present. You’ll leave this class with a polished work sample and the skills you’ll need to apply for intermediate or advanced workshops. 

This course is open to all students but will give priority to those who are interested in pursuing the Creative BA or Creative Writing Minor. Unlike normal Fundamentals courses, this class is not open bid and requires submission of a writing sample and the consent of the instructor.

Instructor: Dan Raeburn

Day and Time: Fridays, 9:30–12:20 PM

PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit writing sample. Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Core Courses

Reading as a Writer: Chicago "City on the Remake"

CRWR 12112

This course invites writers to reconsider the influence of Chicago’s public spaces on artistic craft and form.  How does one tell a “Chicago story?”  Is the city better told in prose or poem?  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, Saul Bellow, Gwendolyn Brooks, Stuart Dybek, Lorraine Hansberry, and Chris Ware, as well as the city’s rich legacies in documentary film, the visual arts, and music.

Course meets the General Education requirement in the Dramatical, Musical and Visual Arts.

Instructor: Garin Cycholl             

Day and Time: Mondays, 1:30–4:20 PM

PQ: Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. No prerequisite required. Attendance on first day is mandatory. If class is full, complete the Online Consent Form.

Introduction to Genres: Walking

CRWR 12119

“Walking is the human way of getting about.” That’s Scottish poet Thomas A. Clark. “I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and field, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.” That’s Thoreau. “In summer, I stalk… I have to seek things out.” That’s Annie Dillard. The textures of walking and writing are deeply woven together. In this workshop, we will walk and explore various theories and practices of walking approaching them from the angles of poetry, essay, aphorism, anthropology, architecture and hybrid writing. Including those already mentioned, we’ll read Rousseau, Whitman, Lisa Robertson, Devin Johnston, Jeffrey C. Robinson, Basho, Rebecca Solnit, Bruce Chatwin, and Shawn Micallef. Though the classroom is our workshop, the environs of Chicago will be our experimental laboratory. Classwork will involve weekly walking requirements, topological writing assignments, and regular reflections, as well as occasional group expeditions and forays in which we will explore varieties of walking: sauntering, strolling, strutting, foraging, skulking.

Course meets the General Education requirement in the Dramatical, Musical and Visual Arts.

Instructor: Peter O'Leary             

Day and Time: Tuesdays, 1:30—4:20 PM

PQ: Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. No prerequisite required. Attendance on first day is mandatory. If class is full, complete the Online Consent Form.

 

Special Topics Courses

Special Topics in Fiction: Young Adult Fiction

CRWR 12010 / 32010

The books and stories we read as teenagers are often some of the most influential in developing our tastes as adult readers and writers of fiction.  In this advanced workshop class, we’ll discuss the genre of young adult literature through evaluation of your own writing: what are its defining characteristics, and what’s the difference between writing for a young adult audience versus writing books and stories about teenagers but designed for adult readers?  Students should be working on projects involving teenaged protagonists, no matter the intended audience; please come to the first session with either work to submit or a sense of when you’d be able to sign up for a slot.  We’ll spend most of our time evaluating student work, learning how to become both generous and rigorous critics, and we’ll also talk about the books that influenced us the most as young adult readers and the books we’re reading today, from contemporary writers like John Green and Rainbow Rowell to classic authors like S.E. Hinton and Madeleine L’Engle.

Instructor: Michelle Falkoff

Day and Time: Mondays, 3:00–5:50 PM

PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit a writing sample. Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Special Topics in Fiction: The Realists

CRWR 12011 / 32011

This course examines some of the foundations of late-19th-century social realism. We’ll look at works by Flaubert, Maupassant, Tolstoy, and Turgenev and consider how their innovations in prose style, storytelling structure, and portrayal of character inform our contemporary literature. We’ll read lesser known works by each, mostly short stories, as well as some correspondence, particularly that between Flaubert and Turgenev. It will also be instructive for us to consider the fictional devices that we’ve tended to discard in 20th and 21st century fiction, and to examine, briefly, a few of the late-19th century writers who fell well outside the soon to be dominant realist mode.

Instructor: Golda Goldbloom

Day and Time: Wednesdays, 12:30–3:20 PM

PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit a writing sample. Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Special Topics in Poetry: Poetry, Sound, Voice

CRWR 13010 / 33010

This is not a course in formal metrics, but a course in prosody as a mode of thinking. It will begin to address rhythm, rhyme, vowel and consonantal patterns, line-breaks, openings, endings, harmonics, dissonance, punctuation, the hard to speak, and other non-semantic (chiefly sonic) resources for verse writers. Highly disparate practices will be discussed. Workshops will focus on non-semantic features of students’ writing.

Instructor: John Wilkinson

Day and Time: Wednesdays, 12:30–3:20 PM

PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit a writing sample. Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.

 

Special Topics in Poetry: Waste, Surplus, and Reuse

CRWR 13013 / 33013

What do we do with surplus, with the extras, leftovers, and other excesses of production? Is there a creative use to put it to? When matters of ecology and economy are concerned, is there an ethical imperative to do so? Or is there also an ethics and aesthetics of the useless? This course considers forms of excess (literary, artistic, economic, etc.) and how they may be approached creatively. We’ll examine diverse types of waste, including literal trash, architectural ruins, bodily waste, wasted time, the dream, and everyday texts (such as emails, text messages, and media). Texts may include Agnes Varda’s documentary The Gleaners and I, Lyn Hejinian’s The Fatalist, Georges Perec’s An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, Kafka’s fiction, art movements such as Dada and Fluxus, Internet memes, Apollinaire’s conversation poems, Tom Phillips A Humument, Rondald Johnson’s Radi os, Eliot’s The Waste Land, A. R. Ammon’s Garbage, Hopkins’ environmental poems, André Breton’s Mad Love, and essays by Georges Bataille and Eliot Weinberger.

Instructor: Nathan Hoks

Day and Time: Wednesdays, 9:30–12:20 PM

PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit a writing sample. Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Special Topics in Nonfiction: Fiction Writers as Nonfiction Writers / Nonfiction Writers as Fiction Writers

CRWR 14010 / 34010

This class will be invested in doing lots of reading in two genres by the same author. We’ll look at James Baldwin, George Saunders, George Orwell, Susan Sontag, Zadie Smith, Joan Didion, Colson Whitehead, and Charles Baxter. We’ll also read W.G. Sebald and try to figure out if generic designations even apply to him. We’ll try our hand writing both fiction and non-fiction and talk about the way the skillsets diverge and intersect.

Instructor: David Stuart MacLean

Day and Time: Mondays, 10:30–1:20 PM

PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit a writing sample. Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Advanced-Level Courses

Advanced Fiction: The Importance of Plot

CRWR 22111 / 42111

What is plot—beyond the dramatic events that take place in a work of fiction? Why is it important—beyond engaging us in what happens to a story’s characters? Can plot be just as consequential to character-driven, aesthetic-driven, or idea-driven fiction as it is to fiction that privileges incident and action? And what exactly do we mean when we label stories in this fashion? This advanced fiction workshop will examine these questions and the many others that concern this crucial but often underrated element of craft. We will begin with the basic mechanics of plot and work towards a deeper understanding of all its effects on a narrative, whether they be dramatic, formal, characterological, even philosophical. Most importantly, we will try to apply these lessons to our own work, no matter the label we assign to our narrative and aesthetic interests. For the course, students will complete one full-length story, which they will present for class critique, and then write a significant revision of that story, which they will either present for a second workshop or turn in at the end of the quarter. Students should expect a rigorous but constructive workshop environment where being a critic and an editor is as essential as being a writer. The course will also include writing exercises and readings of exceptional published fiction, all intended to advance the course’s investigation of plot.

Instructor: Vu Tran

Day and Time: Tuesdays, 3:00–5:50 PM

PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit a writing sample. Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.

 

Advanced Fiction: Home and Away

CRWR 22114 / 42114

In this specialized fiction workshop, students will read and write about leaving and arriving, exploring notions of home, exile, diaspora, and national identity. We will work on creating stories that have momentum and meaning, with a focus on language, translation, and landscape. Readings include Adichie, Lahiri, Sharma and Strauss.

Instructor: Rachel DeWoskin

Day and Time: Thursdays, 10:30–1:20 PM

PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit a writing sample. Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.