Spring 2014

Attendance on the first day is mandatory for all classes.

  • To bid on Beginning and Core Creatie Writing classes, simply go to classes.uchicago.edu and bid on them as you would for any other class. 
  • For Intermediate and Advanced level classes, please submit a writing sample through our online submission form. Submissions should be 3-5 pages for fiction and nonfiction classes, and 3-5 poems for poetry 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. 

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: FEBRUARY 24, 2014

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.

Beginning-Level Courses

Beginning Fiction Writing (CRWR 10200/30200, section 1)

The purpose of this beginning workshop course is to introduce you to fiction writing and to develop your talents as both a writer and reader. We will be reading published stories by a number of authors, from the frequently anthologized to the lesser known. We will discuss techniques and methods of craft utilized in fiction writing including elements such as image, voice, character, setting, and story. There will be a number of writing exercises and prompts, which you will collect in your fiction journal. You will also be working on your own fiction, producing one complete short story over the course of the semester. During the last third of thecourse students will present their stories for class critique. We will discuss these stories not only in terms of their craft elements but also in terms of their more ineffable qualities (is it moving, thought provoking, etc.). Each student will be required to write a significant revision of the story they present for workshop.

Instructor: Eugene Cross. Day and Time: Wednesdays from 9:30am to 12:20pm

PQ: Open bid through Classes (undergrad) or student's graduate department. No prerequisite required. Attendance on first day is mandatory. If class is full, sign up for wait list at creativewriting.uchicago.edu courses.

 
Beginning Fiction Writing (CRWR 10200/30200, section 2)
 
We begin by taking apart the short story in order to understand its aesthetic and structural components. Our examination of the form involves reading chapters on issues of craft in Burning Down the House by Charles Baxter. We will read a lot of short fiction from the 1990s (two stories per week) as well as the collection Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson. And, of course, we'll write. Weekly exercises will focus on developing an understanding of form, character, point of view, voice setting, detail, tone, etc., but you will also produce two short stories and have them critiqued in workshop.
 
Instructor: Paul Durica. Day and Time: Thursdays from 12:00 to 2:50pm
 
PQ: Open bid through Classes (undergrad) or student's graduate department. No prerequisite required. Attendance on first day is mandatory. If class is full, sign up for wait list at creativewriting.uchicago.edu courses.
 
 
Beginning Fiction: Why We Tell Stories (CRWR 10201/30201)
 
In this beginning workshop, we will explore why we tell stories: why they are important to us and why we use them to organize our ideas about ourselves and the world around us. Crucial to this endeavor is finding the actual stories that we want to tell: not just a narrative that is entertaining and dramatic, but one that is meaningful to us, that says something true and compelling. This is easier said than done, and to that end, we will read canonical and contemporary writers who have become exemplars of the fundamentals of craft like language, narrative voice, dialogue, characterization, etc. We will also do writing exercises to help you refine these fundamentals in your writing and hopefully direct you towards the stories you want to tell. 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 from 3:00 to 5:00pm
 
PQ: Open bid through Classes (undergrad) or student's graduate department. No prerequisite required. Attendance on first day is mandatory. If class is full, sign up for wait list at creativewriting.uchicago.edu courses.
 
 
Beginning Poetry Writing: Poetry and Ritual (CRWR 10300/30300, section 1)
 
This course will be rich in original material-making as we investigate human rituals as practices of meaning-making in various landscapes, exploring ritual events in verse, and the act of writing a poem as a ritual process. We will consider what it means to be in harmony and in tension with our natural world, and what ritualistic acts might mean in terms of the art of being human, encountering the works of Jared Stanley, James Wright, Galway Kinnell, Catherine Theis, Denise Levertov, George Oppen, W.S. Merwin, and Basho, among others. We will also consider ritual activities in various mediums— Cocteau’s “Spectacle-Concert”; the figures of the hare and coyote in the performance art of Joseph Beuys; Whitman’s verse as inspiration for Aspen Mays’ photography installation Every Leaf on a Tree. Students’ final portfolios will include material from original ritual projects and corresponding poems.
 
Instructor: Jessica Savitz. Day and Time: Mondays from 9:30am to 12:20pm
 
PQ: Open bid through Classes (undergrad) or student's graduate department. No prerequisite required. Attendance on first day is mandatory. If class is full, sign up for wait list at creativewriting.uchicago.edu courses.
 
 
Beginning Poetry Writing: Varied Art Forms and Inspired Verse (CRWR 10300/30300, section 2)
 
In this course, we will imagine poetry in deep relationship to a multitude of art forms (architecture, music, painting, photography, dye transfer, décollage, the screenplay, monument building, etc.), to create fruitful images and metaphors in our own original poems. We will explore the vivid, stunning poetry of Marianne Moore, Lauren Levin, Eleni Sikelianos, Mark Levine, Catherine Theis and Frank O’Hara, among others. We will encounter the works of Adolf Loos, Pierre Le Hors, Roxane Hopper, Allison Hawkins, Chris Marker and Janet Cardiff, crafting our own ekphrastic verse inspired by the works of local visual artists like Adam Ekberg, Barbara Crane, David Schalliol and the late Vivian Maier. Braiding together readings of canonical writers, in-class writing assignments, and our reflection on students’ original poetry, we will develop as practitioners of the art.
 
Instructor: Jessica Savitz. Day and Time: Mondays from 12:30 to 3:20pm
 
PQ: Open bid through Classes (undergrad) or student's graduate department. No prerequisite required. Attendance on first day is mandatory. If class is full, sign up for wait list at creativewriting.uchicago.edu courses.
 
 
Beginning Nonfiction Writing (CRWR 10400/30400)
 
In this course we will be looking at the history and expanse of Creative Non-Fiction. We will be looking at canonical examples as well as some more recent cutting edge pieces. We will also be writing our own essays in response to prompts and the examples.
 
Instructor: David Stuart MacLean. Day and Time: Tuesdays from 1:30 to 4:20pm
 
PQ: Open bid through Classes (undergrad) or student's graduate department. No prerequisite required. Attendance on first day is mandatory. If class is full, sign up for wait list at creativewriting.uchicago.edu courses.
 
 
Beginning Nonfiction Writing: The Personal Essay (CRWR 10401/30401)
 
In this workshop we will study and practice nonfiction's fundamental form, the personal essay. Unlike other forms of prose, the personal essay does not derive its narrative power from actions, events, or plot. Instead it is driven by rigorous reflection and total honesty. Its story is the story of thought itself. Like thought, its form is protean, its structure elastic, making it the perfect vehicle for clarifying and challenging your own thinking, as well as the assumptions of our culture and time. This is a workshop, so come to the first day of class with ideas and work underway and ready to submit. You will write every day and finish three thorough rewrites of your essay. You will also read and write about published exemplars of the form. You'll leave this class with a polished work sample and the skills you'll need to apply for more advanced workshops.
 
Instructor: Dan Raeburn. Day and Time: Wednesdays from 9:30 to 12:20pm
 
PQ: Open bid through Classes (undergrad) or student's graduate department. No prerequisite required. Attendance on first day is mandatory. If class is full, sign up for wait list at creativewriting.uchicago.edu courses.
 
 
Translation Workshop: Metawriting (CRWR 11505/31505)
 
"Metawriting: Translations, Experiments, Processes, Procedures" There is no language requirement for this course, in case that is a concern. The aim of this course is to provide students with a playground in which to try out their wildest writing ideas. The context for this course will be other writings: they will fence off and predetermine the words, subject, narrative, characters or plotline of any given work as a means to finding new paths into truer and stronger writerly voices. We will unravel existing works to take from them what we want and make something new from it. We might turn Madame Bovary into a poem, the phone directory into a play, The Travels of Marco Polo into a cookbook, or, similarly, a set of recipes into a collection of short stories. In this way, we will further explore notions of what translation is (from the Latin translatio, to carry over), what writing is, and investigate the endless value of translation, experimenting, processes and procedures as tools that enrich the art and the craft of the writer. It is not mandatory but it is recommended to come to this course with ideas about what you would like to ‘metawrite.’
 
Instructor: Amaia Gabantxo. Day and Time: Wednesdays from 12:30 to 2:20pm
 
PQ: Open bid through Classes (undergrad) or student's graduate department. No prerequisite required. Attendance on first day is mandatory. If class is full, sign up for wait list at creativewriting.uchicago.edu courses.
 
 
Intro to Genres: Humor (CRWR 12113)
 
In this course, we’ll explore the uses of humor in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, with an eye toward thinking about how humor can function not just to amuse and entertain, but to highlight the depths of other complicated emotions. We’ll read stories, essays, and poems to try and figure out what makes humor work in the various forms, and then we’ll turn our attention to your work. The class will include weekly writing exercises designed to help you generate ideas for projects that you’ll eventually share with the class for critique, and we’ll spend part of the term engaging in workshop discussions.
 
Instructor: Michelle Falkoff. Day and Time: Tuesdays from 3:00 to 5:50pm
 
Satisfies the College Arts/Music/Drama Core Requirement for undergraduates.
 
PQ: Open bid through Classes (undergrad) or student's graduate department. No prerequisite required. Attendance on first day is mandatory. If class is full, sign up for wait list at creativewriting.uchicago.edu courses.
 
 
Intro to Genres: Beyond the Michigan Sea (CRWR 12114)
 
This course invites readers to reconsider Chicago as a “Great Lakes city” through a variety of genres, including graphic novel, fiction, and documentary photography. Our study is initiated through a reading of Ted McClelland’s journalistic essays, then moves on to creative work by writers and artists including Barbara Blondeau, Stuart Dybek, Arthur Siegel, and Chris Ware. Is Chicago a common point of destination and experience? Versus Walt Whitman, how does the artist’s eye have defining power in the 21st century? Under the present mayor, is Chicago a modern or postmodern city? In exploration of these questions, participants will develop their own individual and collaborative creative responses to “the City on the Lake.”
 
Satisfies the College Arts/Music/Drama Core Requirement for undergraduates.
 
Instructor: Garin Cycholl. Day and Time: Mondays from 1:30 to 4:20pm
 
PQ: Open bid through Classes (undergrad) or student's graduate department. No prerequisite required. Attendance on first day is mandatory. If class is full, sign up for wait list at creativewriting.uchicago.edu courses.
 
 

Intermediate-Level Courses

Intermediate Fiction Workshop (CRWR 12000/32000)

In this intermediate fiction workshop course, you will continue to develop your creative and critical skills as writers and readers of prose fictional narratives. We will work to deepen our understanding of fictional techniques and craft elements through the reading and analysis of stories by accomplished authors as well as critical essays focusing on the craft of fiction. Over the course of the quarter we will read work by Flannery O'Connor, Denis Johnson, Charles Baxter, ZZ Packer, and Sandra Cisneros among many others. As this is a workshop based course, you will also be working on your own fiction, producing one complete short story over the course of the semester and presenting that story for class critique. An emphasis will be placed on the rewriting process with an eye toward identifying and strengthening underdeveloped elements in our work. Each student will be required to write a significant revision of the story they present for workshop, which they will either present for a second workshop or turn in at the end of the quarter.

Instructor: Eugene Cross. Day and Time: Wednesdays from 12:30 to 3:20pm

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


Intermediate Poetry Workshop (CRWR 13000/33000)

This course asks you to become a better poet. It asks that you diligently follow an interest while allowing circuity to tangle the path. If your work is linear and direct, the course will encourage you to allow free association and playfulness. If it is abstract or oblique, the course will guide you in a consideration of clear, precise statement. Risk-taking and nonsensical leaps are required in this course, as are painstaking revisions. In workshop, you will be asked to listen to what others have to say about your poem while you sharpen your convictions about its initial thrust. In the end, the goal is to write very good—even excellent—poems that startle, delight, and mystify your readers.

Instructor: Leila Wilson. Day and Time: Mondays from 3:00 to 5:50pm

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

 
Investigations Through Rhyme (CRWR 13006/33006)
 
Rhyme, and its almost necessary companion, Meter, have found their way into almost every form of expressive language, low and high: from sonnets to limericks, quatrains to playground insults, plays to songs, mnemonic devices for school children to didactic sermons, raps to jingles -- even the occasional novel. Though it may be something of a mystery as to Why, that rhyme can be pleasing to the reader (and listener) is established. What practical use, however, might it be to the writer? This course -- welcoming writers of any stamp -- will explore how composing in rhyme uncovers previously unsuspected pathways in a writer's imagination, and is a powerful editing tool, as well. Rhymed poetic, dramatic, and rhetorical writings and basic verse structures (the Onegin stanza, sonnet, quatrain, etc) will be introduced and analyzed. The focus, however, will be on the "translation" of works of prose -- some selected, but mostly pieces original with the student -- into rhymed verse, with the aim of exploding/unfolding those works out in fresh directions. Possible texts/authors/artists: Shakespeare, Pope, William Blake, Chuck D, Emily Dickenson, Yip Harburg, Cole Porter, Magnetic Fields, Ogden Nash.
 
Instructor: Mickle Maher. Day and Time: Thursdays from 9:00 to 11:50am
 
PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit writing sample (details). Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.
 
 

Advanced-Level Courses

Advanced Fiction Workshop: 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 thecourse, 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: Thursdays from 3:00 to 5:50pm
 
PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit writing sample (details). Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.
 
 
Advanced Poetry Workshop: Orphic Voices (CRWR 23109/43109)
 
The myth of Orpheus covers impressive range: the greatest poet and musician of the mythical age, he married Eurydice after voyaging with the Argonauts, his song capable of taming wild nature, drawing listening animals into his aura, only to have his beloved slain by a serpent’s bite. From there, he charmed his way into the underworld with his lyrics, gaining permission to bring Eurydice back to the world on the condition he not look back, one that he couldn’t abide. In his grief, he sang mournful chants and praised Apollo above all, inspiring the wrath of Dionysus, who compelled his Maenads to thrash him to pieces. The legend concludes with Orpheus’ head bobbing down the Hebrus River, to wash finally to a cave on Lesbos, where it prophesied for ages until quieted by a command from Apollo. But was Orpheus’ voice ever truly silenced? There are four kinds of Orphic poets: the poet who sings plaintive songs of love; the poet who sings the glories of nature; the poet who, having visited the underworld, reveals its mysteries; and the poet-prophet. In this advanced poetry workshop, we will examine the works of five modern poets who exemplify one or more of these traits: Mina Loy (love and mysteries); Lorine Niedecker (nature); Ronald Johnson (nature, mysteries, prophecy); and Rainer Maria Rilke and Robert Duncan (all four traits). In addition to modeling their work after these poets, students will fashion their own version of the Orpheus myth.
 
Instructor: Peter O'Leary. Day and Time: Tuesdays from 1:30 to 4:20pm
 
PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit writing sample (details). Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.
 
 
Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Aiming for Publication (CRWR 24001/44001)
 
The goal of this workshop is to produce the kind of nonfiction published by magazines aimed at the smart, general reader: the New Yorker, Harper's, and the Atlantic Monthly, as well as smaller journals. You may write a personal essay, argument, memoir, character study or travelogue, as well as reportorial, researched, and investigative pieces. No matter what rubric your nonfiction falls under, we will help you to distinguish between the situation--the plot or facts at hand--and the story, which is the larger, more universal meaning that arises naturally from these facts. By developing both these strands and tying them artfully together you will make your piece as appealing as possible to editors and a discerning audience. Come to the first day of class with work underway and ready to share. Be prepared to edit and critique every one of your classmates’ drafts and to finish three full revisions of your own work in progress. We will also read and discuss successful published work. You will leave this class with a polished sample of your best work.
 
Instructor: Dan Raeburn. Day and Time: Fridays from 9:30 to 12:20pm
 
PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit writing sample (details). Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.