Winter 2016

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.  In this class, we’ll explore the elements of memorable fiction, including character, story structure, and language. Through readings and discussions, we’ll cover how to turn short pieces into longer ones, and how to make writing bold, vital, and realistic. We will work with short stories, including work by Junot Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, Rick Moody, Lorrie Moore, and others. Part of our classes will be workshops, during which students will critique each others’ work. The other portion of classes will be craft discussions, during which we will analyze the literary craft at work in assigned texts. We will also do in-class writing exercises. 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 include in a final portfolio 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: Blair Hurley

Day and Time: Mondays 1:30–4:20 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 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 George Saunders, Etgar Keret, Kelly Link, Antonya Nelson, Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro and William Trevor. 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.

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: Goldie Goldbloom

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

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: Tuesdays, 1:30–4:20 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

CRWR 10405 / 30405

We'll examine CNF from all of its sides beginning with the rhetorical precision of Aristotle and moving through the rigorous interior self-mapping of Montaigne, the looping denials of DeQuincey, and then into the modern modes courtesy of Audre Lorde, Virginia Woolf, David Foster Wallace, Arundhati Roy, and others.

Instructor: David MacLean

Day and Time: Mondays, 10:30–1:20 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 Playwriting

CRWR 10505 / 30505

This workshop will explore the underlying mechanics that have made plays tick for the last 2,500 odd years, from Euripedes to Shakespeare to Büchner to Caryl Churchill, Susan Lori-Parks, and Annie Baker, etc. Students will be asked to shamelessly steal those playwrights' tricks and techniques (if they're found useful), and employ them in the creation of their own piece. Designed for playwrights at any level (beginning or advanced), the workshop's primary goals will be to develop a personal sense of what "works" on stage within the context of what's worked in the past, and to generate a play, start to finish. 

Instructor: Mickle Maher

Day and Time: Mondays, 1:30–4:20 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.

 

Core Courses

Reading as a Writer: Crime and Story

CRWR 12107

If prostitution is the earliest profession, then crime is probably the earliest narrative engine. Crime has always been a driving force behind story, a vehicle not only of plot but of human psychology, social exploration, philosophical investigation, and just plain old suspense. There’s something about the darker side of human nature that invites explorations of characters pushed to their extremes. Through analyzing the writing techniques and processes—such as point of view, scene, setting, voice, narrative structure and research methodologies—of such writers and poets as Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith, Walter Mosley, Joyce Carol Oats, Denis Johnson, Carolyn Forché, CK Williams, Nami Mun, James Ellroy and Richard Price among others, students will examine how elements of crime in story can be transformed beyond simple genre. By examining writers’ choices, students will explore how they may use these techniques to develop such mechanics of writing as point of view, poetics, dramatic movement and narrative structure in their own work.

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

Instructor: Gus Rose            

Day and Time: Mondays, 10:30–1:20 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: Bad Behavior

CRWR 12015 / 32015

Because fiction is concerned with human experience, it is rife with killers and thieves, liars and adulterers, cowards and creeps.  Our literature is resplendent with every type of moral weakness, social transgression, hygienic lapse, and general personal unpleasantness.  (Not to mention all the well-meaning folks whose consequential mistakes make others suffer.)  In this course, we will examine stories about characters who attract our fascination despite (or because of) their unsympathetic actions or qualities.  The goal, as always in literary fiction, is to see beyond moral judgment to the irreducible particularity (and mystery) of human motive.  And to ask: how does the story achieve its effects?  In terms of craft, we will focus on all the essentials (characterization and POV, plotting and structure, mood and voice) with special attention to how writers use suspense to seduce the reader into complicated emotional investments.  Readings may include stories by Poe, Hawthorne, Paul Bowles, Flannery O’Connor, Joyce Carol Oates, Mary Gaitskill, Edward P. Jones, Ha Jin, and Tessa Hadley, as well as Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley.   Students will submit their own original fiction for workshop, where we will always be on our best behavior.

Instructor: Brian Booker

Day and Time: Wednesdays, 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: World-Building

CRWR 12012 / 32012

Readers can be quick to accept an unbelievable story as long as the cover asserts that it's true, but fictional narratives come with no such scaffolding, and therefore must feel authentic to overcome the fact that they’re inventions. Not all stories worry over plausibility in the same way—an absurd tale, a science fiction narrative, and a realistic contemporary drama carry different expectations of what can be real, but all of them employ devices to make the experience feel reasonable and compelling to a reader. In this course we'll explore the ways in which a narrative universe can be built into something which feels rich and immersive, without bogging down plot or losing sight of character. We'll discuss the particular responsibilities different stories have to offer character background, setting detail, or plot-explanation, with special attention on how individual scenes are designed, including the ways in which writers balance exposition and action on the page, and how a fictional universe can establish its own inner logic. Over the quarter, students will study a wide range of mostly short fiction, eventually bringing their own stories to workshop.

Instructor: Baird Harper

Day and Time: Thursdays, 12:00–2:50 PM

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

Special Topics in Poetry: Ekphrastic Poetry

CRWR 13012 / 33012

Ekphrasis was originally a Greek term meaning a highly detailed description of an object that offered a fully realized experience of that object, embodying not only its physical qualities but also its emotional impact and other intangible qualities. In modern times that concept has been reinterpreted in artistic terms: as a written form of art that responds to a visual form of art. For the purposes of our class, we will take on an expansive definition of ekphrastic poetry, studying and generating poetry that responds to any non-literary medium. We will begin by considering poems by John Keats, W.H. Auden, Anne Sexton, and many others that respond to visual art, but then we will also consider poems that respond to other artistic media, such as music, movies, dance, etc. We will also read critical work, tracing broadly the various ways that poets have interpreted the ekphrastic relationship between poem and inspiration. How does the extra-textual origin of these poems influence them? How does it affect their form and diction? How does it affect the reader’s experience to have or lack access to the original inspiration? In this hands-on class, students will complete a writing exercise each week, accompanied by trips to the Art Institute of Chicago and to other museums, galleries, and performances. Our lab section will be used approximately bi-weekly to allow for such excursions. 

Instructor: Ariana Nash

Day and Time: Thursdays, 1:30–4:20 PM

+ Lab: Thursdays, 4:30–5:50 PM

PQ: Instructor consent required. To apply, submit a writing sample. Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory. Excursions will be held regularly during the lab section

 

Special Topics in Nonfiction: Reading and Writing Memoir

CRWR 14011 / 34011

Are memoirs inherently self-indulgent, or is the self that they indulge that of the reader, not the author? In this class you’ll a) write your own attempt at a memoir, learning firsthand the pitfalls of the genre, and b) look at the genre’s historical landmarks, such as Rousseau’s Confessions and St. Augustine’s Confessions, and at early novels, which almost invariably presented themselves as found texts or letters, i.e., as faux memoirs, and still do. (“Call me Ishmael.”) Although your memoir is about what happened, ultimately it has to be about what what happened means. So we’ll ask each other this question in workshop, via intensive line edits and more qualitative, essayistic critiques. We’ll study exemplars by Orwell, Nabokov, Rian Malan, and Lucy Grealy, as well as craft books such as The Situation and the Story, by Vivian Gornick, Then, Again: Time and the Art of Memoir, by Sven Birkerts, To Show and To Tell, by Phillip Lopate. You’ll learn the history of the form by reading Memoir: A History, by Ben Yagoda.

Instructor: Dan Raeburn

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.

 

Advanced-Level Courses

Advanced Poetry Workshop

CRWR 23100 / 43100

The focus of this advanced poetry course is two-fold: 1) workshopping students’ original work, and 2) reading a range of contemporary poetry. Over the quarter we will review craft topics such as rhythm, form, imagery, and voice, and we will investigate various approaches to the writing process. In this spirit, local and visiting poets will be invited to class to discuss their writing processes, giving students a chance to dialogue with practicing poets. Readings will include peers' work, recent books by contemporary poets, and supplementary poems and essays on craft. Along with contributing weekly poems to workshop, students will be expected to participate in in-class interview sessions with visiting writers, write a brief essay on process or craft, and attend at least one Creative Writing event. To be considered for the workshop, students should submit 3-5 original poems.

Instructor: Nate Hoks

Day and Time: Wednesdays, 1:30–4:20 PM

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

 

Portfolio Workshop in Fiction

CRWR 27200 / 47200

This course is for students minoring in creative writing or any advanced student working on a serious fiction project. It is primarily a workshop, so please come to our first class with a project in progress (short stories from a collection, excerpts from a novel or a novella), ready for you to discuss and to submit for critique.  Everyone will workshop two pieces from their project, and 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.  Throughout the quarter, will also read and discuss a selection of essays and fiction that will hopefully deepen everyone’s engagement with their own work.

Section 01
Instructor: Vu Tran
Day and Time: Thursdays, 3:00–5:50 PM

Section 02
Instructor: Rachel DeWoskin
Day and Time: 
Wednesdays, 1:30–4:20 PM

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

Thesis Development / Major Projects in Fiction

CRWR 29200 / 49200

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.

Section 01
Instructor: Vu Tran
Day and Time: Tuesdays, 3:00–5:50 PM

Section 02
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.

Thesis Development / Major Projects in Poetry

CRWR 29300 / 49300

This course is an advanced seminar intended primarily for students writing a Creative BA or MA thesis, as well as Creative Writing Minors completing the portfolio. 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: Srikanth Reddy
Day and Time: Tuesdays, 1:30–4:20 PM

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

 

Thesis Development / Major Projects in Nonfiction

CRWR 29400 / 49400

This course is for students writing a creative BA or MA thesis in nonfiction, as well as Creative Writing Minors completing the portfolio. If space allows I’ll also admit those who are working on a long piece of nonfiction on their own. It can be an extended essay, memoir, travelogue, literary journalism, or an interrelated collection thereof. It’s a workshop, so come to the first day of class with your work underway and ready to submit. You’ll 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’ll 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: Fridays, 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.