Winter 2017

Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12107 Reading as a Writer: Crime & Story

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, Thom Gunn, Carolyn Forché, CK Williams, Nami Mun, 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. This class will feature will feature class critiques of students’ creative work.

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

Instructor: Gus Rose

Day & Time: Wednesday, 10:30am-1:20pm

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

CRWR 12123 Reading as a Writer: Ecopoetics: Literature and Ecology

This course will explore a range of literary responses to the anthropocene period, understood as the geological age in which the prevailing economic and social paradigms of humans have conditioned changes in climate and the environment. We will begin with foundational texts in environmental perception and activism (John Ruskin’s “Storm-Cloud of the Nineteenth Century”) and modernist works engaging with urban landscapes (William Carlos Williams’s Paterson), opening onto a wide range of contemporary texts that engage the natural and constructed environment in crisis. We will encounter poetry by authors such as Cecilia Vicuña, Andrea Zanzotto, Robert Grenier, Ed Roberson, Kamau Brathwaite, Juliana Spahr, Marcella Durand, Rodrigo Toscano, and Evelyn Reilly; prose by Jonathan Skinner, Jed Rasula, David Buuck, and Dee Morris; and art by Robert Smithson, Andy Goldsworthy, and Mierle Ukeles, among others. Students will be asked, week by week, to produce short creative pieces in response to an environmental issue or debate that interests them.

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

Instructor: Jennifer Scappettone

Day & Time: Tuesday, 3:00-5:50 pm

PQ: Open bid through my.UChicago. No prerequisite required. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. If class is full, complete the Online Consent Form.Introduction to Genres: Wizards

CRWR 12124 Reading as a Writer: Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty

Critical and Creative Work in Fact-based Narrative Forms

In this core course, students will investigate the complicated relationship between truth and art, by reading, watching, and writing works adapted from an historical record or “based on a true story.” Weekly reading assignments will include fiction, poetry, memoir, and film, and students will write both critical essays and creative exercises that explore the overlaps and divergences between journalistic and artistic truth. Readings: Aristotle, Bechdel, Carson, Keats, Northup, and Zucker.

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

Instructor: Rachel DeWoskin

Day & Time: Thursday, 10:30am-1:20pm

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

Fundamentals Courses

CRWR 10205/30205 Fundamentals of Fiction

The course is designed to deepen your understanding of the craft of fiction through an intensive study of modern and contemporary short stories, a series of focused writing exercises aimed at building toward a short story draft, and class critiques of your own original stories.  We will learn to analyze fiction from the writer’s perspective: less for what it means and more for how it works, elucidating the technical choices writers have made in order to achieve aesthetic and emotional effects.  Our focus will be on the essential elements of craft, such as characterization, point of view, dialogue, tension, and voice.  For the course, you will complete one full-length story, which you will present for class critique, and then, for your final portfolio, either a substantive revision of that story, or a second original story.  Workshops will be conducted in a spirit of encouragement and constructive criticism, aimed at thoughtful, nuanced, and honest responses to each other’s work. 

Instructor: Brian Booker

Day & Time: Monday, 3:00-5:50pm

PQ: Open bid through my.UChicago. 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 Fundamentals of Fiction: CW Track

This course will be roughly one-third lecture/discussion and two-thirds workshopping of student work. We'll read and analyze primarily contemporary short fiction, by writers like Edward P. Jones, Mary Gaitskill, Ben Fountain, Lorrie Moore, George Saunders, and Sherman Alexie. Discussions will tend to be focused around one particular subject each week: setting, dialogue, character, 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: Will Boast

Day & Time: Wednesday, 1:30-4:20pm

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

CRWR 10305/30305 Fundamentals of Poetry

This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of poetry in a creative writing workshop context.  We will focus on a different topic each week--image, prosody, form, and so on--by reading extensively in the work of contemporary American poets and by composing our own literary exercises as well.  We will also attend poetry readings and talks on poetry by visitors to our campus.  The class will follow a workshop format, with peer critiques of student work, and intensive readings across a spectrum of literary aesthetics.

Instructor: Srikanth Reddy

Day & Time: Thursday, 1:30-4:20 pm

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

CRWR 10405/30405 Fundamentals of Nonfiction

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. We'll write our own personal essays, workshop, and revise them.

Instructor: David MacLean

Day & Time: Monday, 10:30am-1:20pm

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

CRWR 10505/30505 Fundamentals of Playwriting

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 one act play, start to finish. 

Instructor: Mickle Maher

Day & Time: Wednesday, 1:30-4:20pm

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

Special Topics Courses

CRWR 11508/31508 Special Topics in Translation: Prose Style 

Purple, lean, evocative, muscular, spare, literary, edgy, exuberant, lucid, stilted, economical. These are all labels that critics and reviewers have used to characterize prose styles that call attention to themselves in distinct ways. Of course, what constitutes style not only changes over time, but also means different things in different literary traditions. How, then, do translators carry style over from one language and cultural milieu to another? And to what extent does style structure storytelling? We will explore these questions by reading a variety of modern and contemporary stylists who either write in English or translate into English, paying special attention to what stylistic devices are at work and what their implications are for narration, characterization, and world building. Further, we’ll examine the range of choices that each writer and translator makes when constituting and reconstituting style, on a lexical, tonal, and syntactic scale. By pairing readings with generative exercises in stylistics and constrained writing, we will build toward the translation of a short work of contemporary fiction into English. To participate in this workshop, students should be able to comfortably read a literary text in a foreign language.

Instructor: Annie Janusch

Day & Time: Monday, 10:30am-1:20 pm

PQ: Instructor consent is required. In place of a writing sample, submit a brief description of your areas of interest regarding language, writing, translation, and world literature. Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory.

CRWR 12012/32012 Special Topics in Fiction: World Building

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 & Time: Thursday, Noon-2:50pm

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

CRWR 12016/32016 Special Topics in Fiction: Numinous, Mysterious, & Weird

Strange fiction, weird literature, magical realism…many of the most popular and beloved works of this new century include fantasy or magic of one kind or another. Why does the rise of magical realism follow the rise of authoritarian states and societal recessions? Have we ever really gotten over magical thinking? And what will it take for you to release your own inner genies? Shout outs to George Saunders, Kelly Link, Etgar Keret, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kobo Abe, Italo Calvino, Franz Kafka and Isaac Bashevis Singer.

Instructor: Goldie Goldbloom

Day & Time: Tuesday, 10:30am-1:20 pm

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

CRWR 13018/33018: Special Topics in Poetry: Epigrams and Spells  

This workshop seeks to help you deepen your awareness of the constituent elements of poetry; namely, diction, image, and tone by one understanding. Or eye, ear, and mind, by another. You will explore these elements through readings and exercises focused on diction, for example, or sound. Likewise, you will sharpen your compositional skills by testing the possibilities in two genres: epigrams and spells. Our texts will include Ancient Christian MagicExiled in the WorldThe Epigrams of Martial, the poems of Catullus, the Greek Anthology, as well as some works of contemporary poetry by Wright, Joron, Meyer, and Jarnot.

Instructor: Peter O’Leary

Day & Time: Tuesday, 1:30-4:20pm

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

CRWR 14011/34011 Special Topics in Nonfiction: Reading & Writing Memoir

Are memoirs self-indulgent? In this class you’ll learn firsthand the pitfalls of the genre, mainly by writing your own. You’ll learn the form’s history by visiting its historical landmarks: Rousseau’s Confessions, St. Augustine’s Confessions, as well as faux memoirs, i.e., novels written in the first person. (“Call me Ishmael.”) 

Although your memoir is about what happened, ultimately it has to be about what what happened means. To help you figure that out, we’ll start with theories proposed by Vivian Gornick in her book, The Situation and the Story, as well as To Show and To Tell, by Phillip Lopate. You’ll apply these ideas in workshop via intensive line edits and searching, essayistic critiques. Every week we’ll read and discuss published exemplars by George Orwell, Vladimir Nabokov, W.G. Sebald, and others. Second week Jeannie Vanasco, who has just finished writing her lyric memoir, will visit us in person to tell us what she’s learned about the form. 

If you learn only one thing from this class, I hope it’s that the best memoirs are indeed self-indulgent—but that the self they indulge is the reader’s, not the writer’s. 

Instructor: Dan Raeburn

Day & Time: Wednesday, 9:30am-12:20 pm

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

Advanced Classes

CRWR 23100/43100 Advanced Poetry Workshop

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 special emphasis will be given to investigating diverse ways that poets imagine the work of the poem and engage with the creative process. Course readings will include peers’ poems, books by contemporary poets, and supplementary poems, essays, and interviews. Along with contributing poems to workshop, students will be expected to keep a creative workbook, participate in in-class discussions, write imitations of assigned readings, write brief responses to books, submit a final portfolio, and attend at least one Creative Writing event.

Instructor: Nathan Hoks

Day & Time: Thursday, 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.

 

CRWR 27200/47200 Portfolio Workshop in Fiction (section 1)

This advanced fiction course is for students in the minor working on a portfolio, as well as graduate students or any advanced student working on a major fiction project. It is primarily a workshop, so we will spend most of the quarter reading excerpts from your projects in progress and offering ways to improve and move them forward. At this point, your critical vocabulary should reflect your knowledge of all of the fundamentals of storytelling--perspective, psychic distance, scene, summary, management of time, etc. We’ll be working to sharpen and nuance our understanding of these concepts, both in our workshop sessions and our outside reading. We have no set outside readings scheduled in this course. As this is one of the uppermost courses in the fiction writing sequence, I’ll be looking to you to help determine the shape of our ten-week conversation, and at times you’ll be asked to lead our discussions yourself.

Instructor: Will Boast

Day & Time: Tuesday, 1:30-4:20pm

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

CRWR 27200/47200 Portfolio Workshop in Fiction (section 2)

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.

Instructor: Vu Tran

Day & Time: Thursday, 3:00-5:50pm

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

CRWR 29200/49200 Thesis/Major Projects Workshop in Fiction (section 1)

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 Tran

Day & Time: Tuesday, 3:00-5:50pm

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

CRWR 29200/49200 Thesis/Major Workshop in Fiction (section 2)

This advanced fiction course is for BA and MA students writing a creative thesis or any advanced student working on a major fiction project. Each of you will work on two chapters and the outline of an individual, book-length manuscript. Together, we will use the workshop to explore strategies for creating new material, revising the pages you have, and building structures that sustain and support long-form works. Readings include works by Baldwin, Carson, Hemon, Yan, and Wharton.

Instructor: Rachel DeWoskin

Day & Time: Wednesday, 1:30-4:20pm

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

CRWR 29300/49300 Thesis/Major Projects Workshop in Poetry

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 & Time: Wednesday, 1:30-4:20pm

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

 

CRWR 29400/49400 Thesis/Major Projects Workshop in Nonfiction

This course is for students writing a long piece of nonfiction. It can be a book, an extended essay, a memoir, narrative or feature journalism, or a portfolio of various pieces. The class is a workshop, so come to the first day with your work well underway and ready to share. Be prepared to spend as much time on your classmates' writing as you do on your own. I focus on editing because writing is basically rewriting. By learning to edit other people's writing, you’ll acquire the objectivity you need to edit your own. I’ll teach you to teach each other, and thus yourselves, preparing you for the real life of the writer outside the academy. 

Your first assignment is to design your own syllabus.

Instructor: Dan Raeburn

Day & Time: Friday, 9:30am-12:20pm

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