Winter 2011

Fiction

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

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 the fiction we read—in workshop as well as with published stories—from the writer’s perspective: in terms of form, character, and language and how the writer might succeed, fail, or innovate in these areas of craft.  We will also approach our work with the notion that creativity breeds intelligence and open-mindedness, and vice-versa, and that fiction, because of its fictive elements, can provide us with a limitless—and often the most truthful—way of expressing who we are and how we see the world.  We’ll begin the term with a series of craft-oriented writing exercises and readings in canonical and contemporary short fiction, all intended to stoke your creativity while exploring the aesthetic and formal traditions that might inform your writing.  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.  Please come to class prepared to share your work, your ideas, your enthusiasm, and your honesty.

Instructor: Staff. Day and Time: Wed., 3:00 to 5:50 PM. 
PQ: OPEN BID through CMORE (undergrads) or your department administrator (grad students). Email katesoto@uchicago.edu to be placed on wait list if the class is full.

Advanced Fiction Workshop (CRWR 22100/42100)

Every art involves both craft and its transcendence through the creative act. Aspiring artists need to come to terms with craft if they are ever to achieve transcendence. Though we will not attempt to deal directly with the mysteries of creativity, we will touch on them again and again, including some of the less mysterious, practical aspects of finding the place where creativity comes from. Both fiction and nonfiction narratives involve the techniques we will be working on. However, we will concentrate on reading and writing fiction to avoid the epistemological questions entailed in nonfiction, though we may find ourselves straying into them from time to time. Each class session will center on the analysis of a number of narratives—short stories mainly, but occasionally excerpts from novels and one short play. These narratives present examples of the way excellent writers have approached specific challenges of craft, such as description and dialogue. In class we will discuss them, first to identify the precise technical challenges the writer faced and then to analyze how he or she dealt with them. During the week that follows the class, you will write very short pieces that build on what you have learned from the reading and discussion. In addition to these exercises, you will submit a short story or part of a longer narrative work. It will be between 15 and 30 pages in length. In the closing weeks we will read pieces written by students for the class. You may be asked to read your work aloud.

Instructor: Jack Fuller. Day and Time: Mon., 3:00 to 5:50 PM.
PQ: Instructor consent required. Submit a 3–5 paged writing sample in fiction and a brief statement of intent.

Thesis/Major Projects in Fiction (CRWR 29200/49200, section 01)

This advanced fiction course is for BA and MA students writing a creative thesis or any advanced student working on a major fiction project.  It is primarily a workshop, so please come to our first class with your project in progress (a story collection, a novel, a novella, etc.), ready for you to discuss and to submit some part of for critique.  As in any writing workshop, we will stress the fundamentals of craft like language, voice, and plot and character development, with an eye also on how to shape your work for the longer form you have chosen.  To supplement our workshops, we will read and discuss published fiction relevant and hopefully informative to your specific projects, while also exploring the potential avenues towards publication. 

Instructor: Vu Tran. Day and Time: Thurs., 3:00 to 5:50 PM.
PQ: Instructor consent required. Submit a 3–5 paged writing sample in fiction and a brief plan for your project.

Thesis/Major Projects in Fiction (CRWR 29200/49200, section 02)

This advanced fiction course is for BA and MA students writing a creative thesis or any advanced student working on a major fiction project.  It is primarily a workshop, so please come to our first class with your project in progress (a story collection, a novel, a novella, etc.), ready for you to discuss and to submit some part of for critique.  As in any writing workshop, we will stress the fundamentals of craft like language, voice, and plot and character development, with an eye also on how to shape your work for the longer form you have chosen.  To supplement our workshops, we will read and discuss published fiction relevant and hopefully informative to your specific projects, while also exploring the potential avenues towards publication. 

Instructor: Vu Tran. Day and Time: Tues., 3:00 to 5:50 PM
PQ: Instructor consent required. Submit a 3–5 paged writing sample in fiction and a brief plan for your project.

TV Writing: The Sitcom (CRWR 27100/47100)

Instruction, reading, and dialogue centering on the writing of the half-hour television comedy script. Aesthetic elements (i.e., formal requirements of the genre as well as the basics of technique) will be presented and assessed; practical necessities (including tricks of the trade) will be explained; real-world network and cable T.V. "ins and outs" will be touched upon. Classroom discussion, covering reading both theoretical and instructional, will be conducted in conjunction with participation by each student in the actual writing of a script. Although humor itself is subjective and ineffable, there are right and wrong ways to go about achieving it. The right ways--and how to get them on paper--will be illuminated in this class. No prior experience necessary.

Instructor: Jerry Perzigan. Day and Time: Wed. 3:00 to 5:50 PM.
PQ: Instructor consent required. Submit a 3–5 paged writing sample and a brief plan for statement of interest.

Nonfiction

Beginning Creative Writing: Nonfiction (CRWR 10400/30400)

This course seeks to develop your abilities in the writing of literary nonfiction as well as in the editing of your own and others’ prose in a workshop environment. Through short assignments and shared readings, you will be introduced to basic considerations of craft in nonfiction, including style and narrative. You will also be introduced to foundational concepts in journalistic writing and be invited to experiment within traditional genres of nonfiction (i.e. memoir, biography, place-writing, etc.). This work culminates in the development and presentation of an extended personal essay. To these ends, we will examine work by contemporary writers including Jenny Boully, John D’Agata, Paul Gruchow, and Luis Alberto Urrea.

Instructor:  Garin Cycholl. Day and Time: Tues., 1:30 to 4:20 PM.
PQ: OPEN BID through CMORE (undergrads) or your department administrator (grad students). Email katesoto@uchicago.edu to be placed on wait list if the class is full.

Intermediate Nonfiction Workshop (CRWR 14000/34000)

In this course we will examine what is creative about so-called creative nonfiction. What makes a personal essay or literary journalism different from straight journalism or editorial opinion? By what alchemy do we transmute facts into art? Through daily and weekly reading, writing, and editing you will learn to combine the facts of the matter at hand with your own retrospection and reflection. Your grade will be based on the artistry you display in balancing the factual with the personal and in recognizing how they can both complement and contradict one another. This is a workshop, so come to the first day of class with work underway and ready to share. Be prepared to write every day of the week and to finish two complete rewrites of an essay of fifteen or so pages. We will also read and discuss published exemplars of the form.

Instructor: Dan Raeburn. Day and Time: Thurs., 9:00 AM to 11:50 AM.
PQ: Instructor consent required. Submit a 3–5 paged writing sample in nonfiction and a brief statement of purpose.

Thesis/Major Projects Workshop in Creative Nonfiction (CRWR 29400/49400)

This course is for students writing a long piece of nonfiction. It can be an extended essay, a memoir or travelogue, literary journalism, or an interrelated collection thereof. It is a workshop, so come to the first day of class with your work underway and ready to submit. You are required to edit your classmates' writing as diligently as you edit your own. I focus on editing because writing is, in essence, rewriting. Only by learning to edit other people's work will you gradually acquire the objectivity you need to skillfully edit your own. You will profit not only from the advice you receive, but from the advice you learn to give. I will teach you to teach each other and thus yourselves, preparing you for the real life of the writer outside the academy.

Instructor: Dan Raeburn. Day and Time: Tues., 9:00 to 11:50 AM.
PQ: Instructor consent required. Submit a 3–5 paged writing sample in nonfiction and a brief statement of purpose.

Journalism: News Writing in the Digital Age (CRWR 28100/48100)

Journalists today are expected to meet the standards that guided reporters in the 20th Century but more quickly and more often for the dynamic media of the 21st Century. In this course we will study and practice traditional and emerging forms of stories and reports, as well as the interactive conversation that turns readers into participants, contributors, and editors. We will cover the news, meet and beat deadlines, conduct interviews, keep a beat blog, discuss the legal and ethical obligations of the profession. As much as possible, we will follow the rituals of the job, completing regular assignments that target a particular audience.

Instructor: Jeff McMahon. Day and Time: Tues. and Thurs., 12:00 to 1:20 PM.
PQ: Instructor consent required. Submit a 3–5 paged writing sample in nonfiction and a brief statement of purpose.

Writing about Chicago (CRWR 27005/47005)

This course explores the craft of creative non-fiction and narrative-based social science writing with an emphasis on writing about social and policy matters in Chicago. The course itself moves through the stages of story development: initial idea and purpose, interviews and public records research, effective writing and narrative technique, and revision and working with an editor. The course will focus heavily on developing student writing in a workshop setting with the end goal being a publishable article of some kind. The course is designed for aspiring journalists and book writers, and those working on BA theses amenable to narrative presentation. The course will feature several guest writers and editors and will be co-taught by a former editor of the Chicago Tribune.

Instructor: Chad Broughton and Anne Marie Lipinski. Day and Time: Mon. and Wed., 10:30 to 11:50 AM.
PQ: Open bid. Undergraduates only. Register through Cmore.

Poetry

Beginning Poetry Writing (CRWR 10300/30300)

This course addresses a range of techniques for writing poetry, making use of various compelling models drawn primarily from international modernisms on which to base our own writing. (Our textbook is Poems for the Millennium, edited by Rothenberg & Joris.) In this sense, the course will constitute an apprenticeship to modern poetry. We will consider the breadth of approaches currently available to poets, as well as the value of reading as a means of developing an understanding of how to write poetry. Each week students will bring poems for discussion, developing a portfolio of revised work by the quarter’s end. Additionally, students will keep detailed notebooks, as well as developing critical skills for understanding poetry in the form of two short essays.

Instructor: Peter O’Leary. Day and time: Thurs., 1:30 to 4:20 PM.
PQ: OPEN BID through CMORE (undergrads) or your department administrator (grad students). Email katesoto@uchicago.edu to be placed on wait list if the class is full.

Advanced Poetry Writing: Poetic Substance (CRWR 23100/43100)

This course will enable participants to deepen their understanding and improve their use of the interplay of semantic and non-semantic elements that constitutes the substance of poems. Readings in poetry will extend from the Renaissance to the present in English, accompanied by salient theoretical writings and manifestoes.  Following an introductory session, each three-hour meeting will be divided between discussion of assigned works, and workshop attention to participants' poetic material. The workshops will go beyond attention to detail, and consider stylistic choices as matter for political-aesthetic contention.

Assigned Texts:
Ed. Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris, Poems for the Millennium Volume 2, From Postwar to Millennium. University of California 1998. 
Ed. Jon Cook, Poetry in Theory: An Anthology 1900-2000, Blackwell 2004. 

Instructor: John Wilkinson. Day and Time: Wed., 1:30 to 4:20 PM.
PQ: Instructor consent required. Submit a 3 to 5 page writing sample in poetry and a one-paragraph statement of intent.

Thesis/Major Projects: Poetry (CRWR 29300/49300)

This course is an advanced seminar intended primarily for seniors and MAPH students writing honors theses in creative writing as well as advanced students who are working on major projects. Because it is a thesis seminar, the course will focus on various ways of organizing larger poetic “projects.” We will consider the poetic sequence, the chapbook, and the poetry collection as ways of extending the practice of poetry beyond the individual lyric text. We will also problematize the notion of broad poetic “projects,” considering the consequences of imposing a predetermined conceptual framework on the elusive, spontaneous, and subversive act of lyric writing. Because this class is designed as a poetry workshop, your fellow students’ work will be the primary text over the course of the quarter.

Instructor: Suzanne Buffam. Day and Time: Wed, 1:30 to 4:20 PM.
PQ: Instructor consent required. Submit a 3 to 5 page writing sample in poetry and a brief plan for your project.

Core Courses (Satisfy Arts Core Requirement)

Reading As a Writer: Chicago Stories (CRWR 12101)

This course invites writers to reconsider the influence of Chicago’s public and private 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? Is there a “Chicago epic?” Working through these questions, students will analyze and explore the technical vocabularies of other writers’ responses in a variety of literary genres. Examples here include how political or social conflicts have shaped fiction writers’ definition of characters and point of view in Chicago writing. Similarly, how have the city’s historical geographies of South Side, the Great Migration, and the suburb influenced form in poetry and creative nonfiction? What theoretical approaches have been particularly influential in understanding “place” among Chicago writers? Using workshop format, students will develop their own creative responses, building connections to their adopted critical approaches. To these ends, we will examine work by writers including Nelson Algren, Gwendolyn Brooks, John Conroy, Aleksandar Hemon, and Sterling Plumpp, as well as the city’s rich legacies in drama, the visual arts, and music.

Instructor: Garin Cycholl. Day and Time: Thurs., 1:30 to 4:20 PM.
PQ: OPEN BID through CMORE (undergrads only). Emailkatesoto@uchicago.edu to be placed on wait list if the class is full.

Introduction to Genres: Writing and Performance (CRWR 12102)

This course examines how writing and performance intersect, inform and inspire each other. Using techniques from literary, theatrical and storytelling traditions, we'll explore how to get a well-crafted story first on, and then off the page. How does telling a story aloud fuel the writing process? How does the writing heighten the performance? How does the students' understanding of audience, voice, point of view, scene and character development influence both disciplines, and how does storytelling play a part in our daily lives, whatever career paths we find ourselves headed for? The class will focus on personal narrative storytelling, and will incorporate a wide range of models--literature, podcast, video and live performance,--as well as a wide range of assignments--writing, journal reflection, reading out loud and theatrical technique--and will culminate in a final storytelling performance. Student collaboration, feedback and discussion is a priority. 

Instructor:  Megan Stielstra. Day and Time: Wed., 9:30 to 12:20 AM.
PQ: OPEN BID through CMORE (undergrads only). Emailkatesoto@uchicago.edu to be placed on wait list if the class is full.