Winter 2019 Courses

Attendance on the first day is mandatory for all classes. Participation in creative writing courses may include attendance at events that take place outside of class time. Please note that workshops in which student produce and critique original work comprise a major component of all Creative Writing workshop courses.

To bid on Beginning and Core Creative Writing classes, simply go to my.UChicago and bid on them as you would for any other class. If the class is closed and the instructor is listed as "Staff," please contact Jessi Haley for a spot on the waiting list.

For Advanced Workshops, please submit a writing sample through our online submission form. Submissions should be 3-5 pages for fiction and nonfiction classes, and 3-5 pages of poems for poetry classes. The writing sample is a mandatory component of all workshop applications.

For Technical Seminars and Fundamentals in Creative Writing courses, please fill out the online application form. A writing sample is not required for applications to these courses. Please note that Fundamentals seminars are only open to students who have declared the Creative Writing major.

YOU MUST SUBMIT A SEPARATE APPLICATION FOR EACH COURSE FOR WHICH YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE CONSIDERED.

Please note: All sample submissions should be double-spaced (except poetry) in Word documents using a 12-point standard font.

Please review your full application before you submit to be sure that AutoFill has not replaced any of your answers. We cannot take factors affecting your admission into account if the information is not on the application form.

Students may apply for no more than 2 workshop courses in each genre. Please clearly indicate your preferences if you are applying to multiple courses.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: November 16, 2018


The course instructor will contact you before the quarter begins to let you know whether you've been accepted.

Email the program manager with questions.

Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12106 Intro To Genres: Science Fiction

A monolith manifests in orbit around Jupiter, emitting a signal. A beacon? A man spontaneously discovers the ability to teleport. An evolutionary accident? A visitation of alien life might be malicious. Human hubris? Space travel is enabled by the ingestion of enormous quantities of a geriatric spice a messianic figure auspiciously learns to manipulate. A drug trip?! Among popular genres, science fiction is the riskiest conceptually and among the trickiest to master. The difference between an amazing idea and a rotten story is often slim. What makes good sci-fi work? And how best to write it? Let’s put on our gravity boots and solar visors and see what we can discover. In this course, you’ll read some novels and a novella (by Frank Herbert, Alfred Bester, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Ted Chiang), a graphic novel (by Chris Ware), and screenplays (by Eric Heisserer, and Stanley Kubrick & Arthur C. Clarke). And all the while, you’ll try your hand at bending each other’s minds with your own science fiction.

Instructor: Peter O'Leary

Day/Time: Tuesday, 2:00-4:50 pm

Open bid through my.UChicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Satisfies the College Arts/Music/Drama Core requirement.

CRWR 12120 Section:1 Reading As A Writer: Writing And Desecration 

To write in any genre is a gesture that puts one in a relationship with predecessors and precursors. While this relationship if often constructed as a dialogue, it can also be a conflict, full of clatter, disagreement and intentional offensiveness. In this sense, the writer’s mark crosses out the predecessors’ work, and functions as an act of desecration. Writing becomes an intertextual act of rebellion that calls into question the conventional, the canonical, and the sacred. Readings may include avant garde manifestos, erasure poetry, and poetry and fiction by Shakespeare, William Blake, Joyce Mansour, Sylvia Plath, Bernadette Mayer, Amiri Baraka, Allen Ginsberg, Federico García Lorca, Haruki Murakami and Georges Bataille. Students will be expected to write creative works in response to prompts, and write an academic essay. The prompts will form the basis of a final portfolio, which will be accompanied by an original essay.

Instructor: Nate Hoks

Day/Time: Wednesday, 1:30-4:20 

Open bid through my.UChicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Satisfies the College Arts/Music/Drama Core requirement.

CRWR 12130 Intro To Genres: Love

What is love? How does it speak? To whom does it speak and how do we, let’s say, begin to speak about it? “One finds that love is not a state, a feeling, a disposition, but an exchange,” write Judith Butler, “uneven, fraught with history, with ghosts, with longings that are more or less legible to those who try to see one another with their faulty vision.” In this course, we will pursue this faulty vision with a vengeance, following love’s many apparitions -- its voices, bodies, and forms -- through various discourses (poetry, philosophy, films, artworks, and so on) into ecstatic swirls of self-possession and apocalyptic visions of self-doubt. Students will be asked to keep a reading notebook as well as to produce weekly creative responses for class discussion. 

Instructor: Thursday, Lynn Xu

Day/Time: 11:00-1:50 

Open bid through my.UChicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Satisfies the College Arts/Music/Drama Core requirement.

CRWR 12131 Reading As A Writer: Chicagoans: The City In Short Story, Poem, And Nonfiction Reportage

Focused on the basic elements of craft, an examination of how fiction writers, poets, and journalists have explored Chicago.  What defines the “voice” of a writer engaged with the city’s life and hustle?  Is the short story an “exhausted form” in American writing?  Is there a “Chicago flaneur?”  How does the city reflect the narratives of the “Rust Belt” or not?  Is it even possible to be “objective” about the city?  Writers for discussion here include Nelson Algren, Jeffery Renard Allen, Tina De Rosa, Stuart Dybek, Nate Marshall, and Carl Sandburg.

Instructor: Garin Cycholl

Day/Time: Monday, 1:30-4:20 

Open bid through my.UChicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Satisfies the College Arts/Music/Drama Core requirement.

Beginning Workshops

Details coming soon! 

Fundamentals & Technical Seminars

CRWR 17000 Fundamentals in Creative Writing: Literary Empathy

In this fundamentals course, students will investigate the complicated relationship between writers, fictional characters, and readers, toward determining what place literary empathy has in our conversation about contemporary literature. James Baldwin once observed that, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” We will use weekly reading assignments including fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction to ask questions about what Virginia Woolf described as the “elimination of the ego” and “perpetual union with another mind” that take place when we read. Students will write critical responses, creative exercises, and a final paper on a topic to be approved by the instructor. Readings include Baldwin, Bishop, Beard, Carson, Walcott, and Woolf.

Instructor: Rachel DeWoskin

Day/Time: Wednesday 1:30-4:20

Students must be a declared Creative Writing major to enroll. Apply via creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

CRWR 20206/40206 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Setting (Beyond) The Stage

This technical seminar course will look at fiction and some film to explore the use and function of setting in narrative works. We will consider its uses beyond simply as a tool in world-building or backdrop creation, looking into how it informs character, defines perspective, affects mood, pushes plot, and even makes us see the world differently. Students will read various works of long and short fiction with an eye to their use of setting, as well as critical and craft texts. They will write short weekly reading responses and some creative exercises as well. Each student will also be expected to make a brief presentation and turn in a final paper for the class.

Instructor: Augustus Rose

Day/Time: Tuesday, 11:00-1:50

Instructor consent required. Apply via creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

CRWR 20304/40304 Technical Seminar in Poetry: Landscape, Still Life, & Ekphrasis

"Make a poem the way nature makes a tree,” wrote Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro. In this course we’ll think about how poems about places and objects are made, and how formal decisions can be used to enact a setting or scene. We’ll also look at poems that take other works of art, namely photographs and paintings of landscapes and still lifes, as starting points. Students will consider not only conventional questions of form, such as line, meter, diction, stanzas, but also radical departures from such conventions, such as visual juxtapositions, calligrams, sound poems, and sculpture.

Instructor: Joshua Edwards

Day/Time: Friday, 10:30-1:20

Instructor consent required. Apply via creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Advanced Workshops

CRWR 21500/41500 Advanced Translation Workshop: Prose Style

Purple, lean, evocative, muscular, literary, 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: Anne Janusch

Day/Time: Monday, 1:30-4:20

Instructor consent 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 22130/42130 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Inner Logic

In this advanced workshop, we will explore the range of strategies and techniques that fiction writers employ to make readers suspend their disbelief. We will consider how imagined worlds are made to feel real and how invented characters can seem so human. We will contemplate how themes, motifs, and symbols are deployed in such a way that a story can feel curated without seeming inorganic. We will consider how hints are dropped with subtlety, how the ‘rules’ for what is possible in a story are developed, and how writers can sometimes defy their own established expectations in ways that delight rather than frustrate. From character consistency to twist endings, we’ll investigate how published authors lend a sense of realism and plausibility to even the most far-fetched concepts. Through regular workshops, we will also interrogate all students’ fiction through this lens, discussing the ways in which your narratives-in-progress create their own inner logic. Students will submit two stories to workshop (one to be submitted early in the term) and will be asked to write critiques of all peer work.

Instructor: Baird Harper

Day/Time: Thursday, 9:30-12:20

Instructor consent required. Apply via creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

CRWR 23123/43123 Advanced Poetry Workshop: Form & Formlessness

Wallace Stevens suggests that “The essential thing in form is to be free in whatever form is used.” How does form provide a kind of freedom for a poet? How does it manifest itself in a poem? Does it mean we have to follow prescribed rules, or is there a more intuitive approach? This course will give students a chance to try out a range of traditional and experimental forms, both as an attempt to improve as writers and in order to interrogate form and its other, what Bataille called the formless, or “unformed” (l’informe). We’ll exam in depth rhythm, meter, and the line, as well as forms such as the ballad, the villanelle, the sonnet, the pantoum, and the sestina. We’ll also engage with non-traditional forms such as rhizomatic structure, serial poems, list poems, somatic exercises, and walk poems. Readings will likely include an anthology such as the Norton, Carper and Attridge’s Meter and Meaning, work by contemporary poets such as A. R. Ammons, John Ashbery, Alice Notley, and Lyn Hejinian, and theoretical texts by by the likes of Bataille, Adorno, Glissant, and Deleuze. Students will be expected to submit exercises each week for workshop, write an essay, serve as discussion leaders, and complete a final portfolio of original poems.

Instructor: Nathan Hoks

Day/Time: Friday, 1:30-4:20

Instructor consent required. Apply via creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

CRWR 24010/44010 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Reading & Writing Memoir

Are memoirs self-indulgent? Yes. But ideally the self that they indulge is the reader’s, not the author’s. In this class you’ll learn firsthand the pitfalls of the genre, mainly by writing your own. You’ll start by visiting the form’s 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 Alison Bechdel, Vladimir Nabokov, Lucy Grealy, and others. 

Instructor: Dan Raeburn

Day/Time: Tuesday 9:30-12:20 pm

Instructor consent required. Apply via creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

Thesis/Major Projects Workshops

CRWR 29200/49200 Thesis/Major Projects in Fiction, Section 1

This advanced fiction workshop is for Creative Writing majors, minors, and MAPH students and other advanced students working on a substantial 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, 2:00-4:50 pm

Instructor consent required. Apply via creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

CRWR 29200/49200 Thesis/Major Projects in Fiction, Section 2

This advanced fiction workshop is for Creative Writing majors, minors, and MAPH students and other advanced students working on a substantial 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: Thursday, 11:00-1:50 

Instructor consent required. Apply via creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

CRWR 29200/49200 Thesis/Major Projects in Fiction, Section 3

This course is for Creative Writing majors, minors, and MAPH students and other advanced students working on a substantial fiction project. In workshop discussions, we'll read and critique student work with an eye toward solidifying what you've learned and produced in previous writing courses. We'll continue to address fundamental principles of storytelling and prose writing, but hope to bring a further degree of subtlety and curiosity to our discussions. We'll also refine and expand our tastes as readers and writers by considering fiction by the likes of Tolstoy, Roberto Bolaño, Lydia Davis, Alice Munro, and James Baldwin. Finally, students will choose outside texts that have in some way influenced or informed their own creative projects and present and lead discussion on them.

Instructor: William Boast

Day/Time: Wednesday, 1:30-4:20

Instructor consent required. Apply via creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

CRWR 29200/49200 Thesis/Major Projects in Fiction, Section 4 

This advanced fiction workshop is for Creative Writing majors, minors, and MAPH students and other advanced students working on a substantial fiction project. All students will begin with a manuscript they are developing, whether a story collection, a novel, or an unknown entity. The focus of this thesis workshop will be on deepening the narrative. We’ll ask ourselves this question: How does the story transcend itself? In other words, is this narrative about more than the specific situation depicted? We’ll discuss and develop methods of surfacing the ideas and conceits that may already be embedded within the piece, but not yet within grasp. To that end, we will consider re-sequencing certain scenes, proportioning out the narrative differently, and developing certain characters more fully. Readings will consist primarily of contemporary fiction. We will also consider the writing processes of other authors. Students will be expected to present on their own personal, non-literary influences.

Instructor: Ling Ma

Day/Time: Wednesday, 12:30-3:20

Instructor consent required. Apply via creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

CRWR 29200/49200 Thesis/Major Projects in Fiction, Section 5

This advanced fiction workshop is for Creative Writing majors, minors, and MAPH students and other advanced students working on a substantial fiction project. It will be primarily a workshop class and all students are expected to enter this course with a story collection, a novel, or a novella already in progress, 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 POV and narrative distance, voice, character development, structure, se]ng, 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 short presentations on the writing life: literary influences, writers’ processes, explorations of craft elements, literary journals, etc.

Instructor: Augustus Rose

Day/Time: Monday, 10:30-1:20 

Instructor consent required. Apply via creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

CRWR 29300/49300 Thesis/Major Projects 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: Lynn Xu

Day/Time: Tuesday, 11:00-1:50 

Instructor consent required. Apply via creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

CRWR 29400/49400 Thesis/Major Projects in Nonfiction

Instructor: Dan Raeburn

This class is required if you’re writing a BA or MAPH thesis in nonfiction or working on your portfolio for the minor. The class itself is entirely workshop, meaning that you and your classmates will provide the vast majority of material for discussion. You’ll spend as much time editing other people’s writing as you will working on your own. I emphasize editing because writing is essentially rewriting, and editing other manuscripts is the fastest way to gain the objectivity and skill you need to edit your own. By teaching others you’ll teach yourself, preparing you for the real life of the writer outside the academy. That’s why your first assignment will be to create your own syllabus: your own, self-directed program of outside reading, with smart, succinct reasons given for each choice. All writers are ultimately self-taught, and this class is intended to be a step in that direction.

Day/Time: Friday, 9:30-12:20

Instructor consent required. Apply via creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.