Winter 2014 Courses

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: NOVEMBER 22, 2013

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 01)

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 the course 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 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 Fiction Writing (CRWR 10200/30200, section 02)

This course will employ the short story as the central tool to understanding how a narrative is built. Students will read short fiction by established masters like Raymond Carver, Amy Hempel, and Stuart Dybek as well as contemporary practitioners such as Jim Shepard and Wells Tower. In discussion we will work to isolate and examine the basic elements of story craft—point of view, pacing, character development, etc.—in an effort to define the ways in which a good narrative affects its audience. In the latter weeks of the quarter, the conversation will turn inward, as students submit their own works of short fiction for workshop.

Instructor: Baird Harper. 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 Poetry Writing: Topics in Poetics (CRWR 10300/30300, section 01)

In this course, we will explore fundamental concepts in the writing of poetry. We will study traditional poetic forms and approaches alongside currents in contemporary poetry, and will consider the extent to which these may challenge and complicate our own writing practices. Because the course is designed as a workshop, a significant portion of each class will be devoted to the discussion and critique of one another's poems. In addition, we will read essays on poetic craft, history and theory, while exploring the work of many poets both contemporary and past. By the end of the quarter, participants will have generated a substantial portfolio of original work and refined their critical skill as readers of poetry.

Instructor: Srikanth "Chicu" Reddy. Day and Time: Thursdays 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.

Translation Workshop (CRWR 11504/31504, section 01)

Writing Under the Influence: Exe(o)rcising Translation. There is no language requirement for this unit, in case that’s a concern. The course aims to give students a playing ground in which to redefine their parameters of what a translation is, what translation means (from the Latin translatio, to carry over). Students will write translations from languages they don’t speak, and at times ‘the original’ they translate from may be something not bound down in words, or they might translate from English. We will workshop these translations, exploring the individual (or group) authors’ decisions, choices, strategies. The aim of the course is to challenge and open up notions of: language, authorship, originality, translation, meaning, voice, influence, literality, slang, dialects, equivalence, and their relationship to writing.

Instructor: Amaia Gabantxo. Day and Time: Wednesdays from 2:30 to 5:20pm 

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: Wizards (CRWR 12109, section 01)

Do you believe in wizards? Are you a wizard? Then pack up your talismans, fetishes, and gamelans into the mysterious little satchel you carry at your side and get ready for some incantatory magic. We will investigate the figure of the wizard as an archetype, a literary symbol, a vehicle for fantasy, and as a commanding reality while considering such things as A Wizard of Earthsea, the figure of Merlin, The Teachings of Don Juan, The Teachings of Ogotemmeli, Harry Potter, Aleister Crowley, the poetry of W.B. Yeats, Nathaniel Mackey, Jay Wright, Ronald Johnson, W.B. Yeats, as well as some other things too secret to reveal at present, including the nature of esotericism.

Instructor: Peter William O'Leary. Day and Time: Tuesdays from 1:30 to 4:20pm 

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: Experimental Documentary (CRWR 12110, section 01)

Experimental Documentary: Writing Between Salvage and Change This workshop offers students curious about writing the chance to expand their individual horizons by working with documentary forms across prose, poetry, fiction, and performance, learning to incorporate research into generative and aesthetically compelling pieces. We will ask to what extent research and "the news" can participate actively in history, how the documentation of what is present or passing alters the future, and how art blurs these temporalities. We will grapple throughout the quarter with the mediation of real phenomena captured by technology and text, asking whether our transcribing and framing gestures can be more than acts of preservation—whether they can contribute to the emergence and development of their objects of study, whether these be cities, endangered communities, political movements, or works of art. The majority of the works on our syllabus will contemplate changes in the urban environment. We will read and watch a number of documentary works; artists will include Jean Toomer (Cane), James Agee and Walker Evans (Let Us Now Praise Famous Men), Charles Reznikoff (Testimony), Muriel Rukeyser (“Book of the Dead”), Cecilia Vicuña (What is Poetry to You?), Haskell Wexler (Medium Cool), Chris Marker (Sans Soleil), Office for Soft Architecture (site reports), Claudia Rankine (Don’t Let Me Be Lonely), Pamela Lu (Ambient Parking Lot), Gregory Whitehead (Dead Letters), and Every House Has a Door (Testimony 2.2). Possible topics for our own documentary experiments are endless, and while they will have the chance to make microdocumentaries and to develop one extended work over the course of our ten weeks, students are encouraged to think about potential projects over the winter break. Several visiting artists will supplement our exposure to the form by sharing their experiences with us.

Instructor: Jennifer Scappettone. Day and Time: Thursdays from 10:30am to 1:20pm

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.

Intermediate-Level Courses

Intermediate Fiction Workshop: Refining Your Voice (CRWR 12000/32000, section 01)

This intermediate fiction workshop will build on the fundamental elements of craft laid out in Beginning Fiction and encourage you to cultivate your own aesthetic: not just your writing style, but more importantly your unique perspective on the world that necessarily informs and is informed by that style. We will read a selection of writers who have distinctive voices (Raymond Carver, Paul Bowles, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, Lorrie Moore, et al.) and then complement those readings with writing exercises that will help you contextualize, refine, and expand your own emerging voice. As always, there will be an emphasis on the workshop process so that you are actively engaging with the work of your peers. 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: Wednesdays 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.

Intermediate Poetry Workshop: Poetry of & Off the Page (CRWR 13000/33000, section 01)

Is there a place for poetry in a society in which reading has been declared dead—where at the very least, reading threatens to be replaced by scanning? In this workshop/laboratory, we will explore material whose response is a delirious yes—poetry that revels in charging the confines of the page and book. Exposure to an archive of modernist visual and sound poetry, artists' books, contemporary installation and performance works, and relevant theories of media dislodgment will help us compose our own answers to the (old) question: what forms are poems obliged or inspired to take as language goes viral, in the face of total information, digitization, and post-literary culture? Readings and viewings in 20th- and 21st-century poetry and poetics, visits to local writing-arts collections, and class visits by local artists will help us generate our own works. Students will complete weekly assignments across media, and engage with the writing of their peers formally, while working toward a culminating piece in a medium of their choice: this final piece can take the form of a chapbook, performance, installation, or other pertinent channel.

Instructor: Jennifer Scappettone. Day and Time: Wednesdays 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.

Intermediate Nonfiction Workshop (CRWR 14000/34000, section 01)

Balancing the Factual and the Personal In this course we will write so-called creative nonfiction and examine what, exactly, is creative about it. What makes a 'personal' narrative or 'literary' journalism different from journalism, scholarship, or editorializing? What makes nonfiction artful? Through daily and weekly reading, writing, and editing you'll learn to combine the facts of the matter you've chosen to write about with your own retrospection and reflection. Your grade will be based on the artistry you display in balancing the two 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 ideas and work underway and ready to share. Be prepared to write every day of the week and to ruthlessly edit your own work, as well as that of your classmates. We will also study published work that illustrates solutions to the problems you've chosen to tackle.

Instructor: Dan Raeburn. Day and Time: Wednesdays from 9:30am to 12:20pm 

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

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 news writing. We will cover the news, conduct interviews, profile a newsmaker, keep a beat blog, discuss the legal and ethical obligations of the profession, and consider the interaction between readers and writers that has changed the journalism profession. As much as possible, we will follow the rituals of the job, completing regular assignments that target a particular audience. Sleeves will be rolled up; deadlines will be met.

Instructor: Jeff McMahon. Day and Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:00 to 1:20pm 

PQ: Instructor consent required. Email the instructor a statement detailing your journalism experience (experience is not required) and intentions. Include your year and department or concentration. Email to: jmcmahon@uchicago.edu

 

Advanced-Level Courses

Thesis Development / 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, or a novella), 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. And as a supplement to our workshops, we will have brief student presentations on the writing life: our literary influences, potential avenues towards publication, etc.

Instructor: Vu TranDay 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.

Thesis Development / 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 will be primarily a workshop class and all students are expected to enter this course with a project-in-progress (a story collection, a novel, or a novella) ready to be submitted and critiqued. The class will stress narrative arc and different kinds of conflict, though we will also discuss such fundamentals as language, voice, character, structure, setting and dialogue (as needed), in order to best shape a given work toward the writer’s own vision of that work. Keep in mind that writers don’t work in a vacuum—we should have a strong sense of how our own work fits in with the work of other writers. With this in mind, each student will also be expected to make several brief presentations on the writing life: literary influences, writers' processes, explorations of craft elements, avenues of publication, etc. Students doing a creative honors thesis in fiction are required to register for this course.

Instructor: Augustus RoseDay and Time: Mondays from 11:30am to 2:20pm 

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

Thesis Development / Major Projects in Fiction (CRWR 29200/49200, section 03)

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 a workshop class, so please come to the first class with either work to submit or a sense of when you'd be able to sign up for a slot. We'll tailor our discussions to the work before us; for those of you working on novels, we'll focus on point of entry and the structural considerations inherent in longer works, and for short-story collections we'll talk about both the stories themselves and the relationships between them. We'll also work on learning how to become both generous and rigorous critics, of our own work as well as the work of others, through the workshop process as well as discussion of other published works.

Instructor: Michelle Falkoff. Day and Time: Tuesdays 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.

Thesis Development / Major Projects in Poetry (CRWR 29300/49300, section 01)

This advanced poetry course is for BA and MA students writing a creative thesis or any advanced student working on an extended poetic series or sequence. 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 poem. 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 poetic 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: Srikanth "Chicu" Reddy. Day and Time: Tuesdays from 1:30 to 4:20 pm

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

Thesis Development / Major Projects in Creative Nonfiction (CRWR 29400/49400, section 01)

This course is for students writing a long piece of nonfiction. It can be an essay, a memoir, a travelogue, narrative journalism, or a collection of various pieces. This class is a workshop, so come to the first day with your work underway and ready to share. Be prepared to edit your classmates' writing as thoroughly 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. This course teaches you to teach each other and thus yourselves, preparing you for the real life of the writer outside the academy. You'll begin by designing your own syllabus.

Instructor: Dan Raeburn. Day and Time: Fridays from 9:30 am to 12:20 pm

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