Autumn 2008 Courses


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

This beginning-level fiction-writing class will use a wide range of exercises and activities to help students discover their oral and written voices. Point of view, seeing-in-the-mind, gesture, audience, and other aspects of story will be emphasized so that students can attempt to incorporate basic storytelling principles, forms, and techniques into their own writing. The major goals of the class are to guide students to discover and use the power of their individual voices, heighten their imaginative seeing and sense of imaginative options, and to develop their overall sense for story structure and movement. The activities of this course will emphasize the interrelated connections of reading, writing, listening, oral telling, sense of personal voice, imaginative seeing, and structure. Students will select at least one of the assignments undertaken, rewrite it extensively, and attempt a publishable-quality, complete story movement (short story or novel excerpt).

Instructor: Megan Stielstra. Day and Time: Mondays, 6:00 to 8:50 PM

PQ: Online registration. No submission necessary.


Beginning Fiction Writing (CRWR 10200/30200, Section 02)

This workshop-centered course introduces writers to foundational concepts and tools in the craft of fiction, including point of view, voice, plot, and dimensions of character. Regular assignments include the submission and editing of short fictions, as well as working reflection on the historical and artistic context of the short story as a form itself. Within the workshop, we will seek not only to become better fiction writers, but also better critical readers of one another’s work. To this end, we will examine work by other past and contemporary writers, including James Joyce, Djuna Barnes, Joyce Carol Oates, Haruki Murakami, John Edgar Wideman, and Barry Hannah.

Instructor: Garin Cycholl. Day and Time: Thursdays, 1:30 to 4:20 P.M

PQ: Online registration. No submission necessary.


Advanced Fiction: Beginning the Novel (CRWR 22106/42106)

If there is anything more difficult than defining the novel (a protean genre whose demise has been greatly exaggerated), it is probably beginning one, not only because the sheer size of the undertaking can be daunting, but because the opening of a novel contains, whether we recognize it or not, what we might call the vocal, tonal, and structural genetic code of the pages that will follow. Through a close reading of our own attempts at starting novels, as well as by sampling a range of opening gambits employed by contemporary novelists, we will attempt to illuminate the implicit expectations inherent in beginning, the constraints and obligations these expectations impose on the writer, as well the many opportunities for successfully transgressing against them.

Instructor: Mark Slouka. Day and Time: Tuesdays, 6:00 to 8:50 PM

PQ: Instructor’s permission required. Please submit a brief personal statement (accent on personal) discussing your background and interest in creative writing, as well as a five to ten-page writing sample.


Beginning 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 (e.g., memoir, travel-writing). This work culminates in the development and presentation of an extended personal essay. To these ends, we will examine work by contemporary writers including Greil Marcus, Dodie Bellamy, John McPhee, and Eliot Weinberger.

Instructor: Garin Cycholl. Day and Time: Wednesdays, 1:30 to 4:20 PM

PQ: Online registration. No submission necessary.


Intermediate Nonfiction: Balancing the Factual and the Personal(CRWR 14003/34003)

In this course we will examine what is creative about so-called creative nonfiction. What makes a personal narrative different from journalism, scholarship, or editorial opinion? What makes for lasting, literary 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 these 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 finish two full 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: Wednesdays, 1:30 to 4:20 PM

PQ: Instructor’s permission required. Beginning Creative Nonfiction and online application OR instructor consent and online application. Fill out form and submit a 3 to 15 page sample of a personal narrative or essay. Fiction, poetry, academic essays, and news reporting is not acceptable.


Personal Essay: Borders of Autobiography (CRWR 24103/44103)

Focusing primarily on the first-person essay, this workshop will explore the sheer variety of voices—eccentric, digressive, whimsical, polemical, confessional, nostalgic, etc.—being employed by today’s practitioners of the genre; our goal will be to illuminate some of the possibilities for self-expression the essay form holds. Toward that end we will explore, through our own work as well as through selected outside readings, the perennially fascinating subject of the borderline between “fact” and “fiction.” Among the issues we will discuss are the risks and rewards of transparency, the attitudes the essayist’s authorial self can adopt toward its subject (and the rhetorical possibilities inherent in these), the inescapable fictionality of retrospection, the extent to which the essaying persona is a fictional creation, the techniques of, for example, delay and denial that essayists share with writers of fiction, and the options being opened today by the hybridization of the genre.

Instructor: Mark Slouka. Day and Time: Wednesdays, 9:30 AM to 12:20 PM

PQ: Instructor’s permission required. Please submit a 5 to 10 page writing sample in any genre. 


Vare Nonfiction Writer-in-Residence Walter Kirn: The Art of Nonfiction

A workshop-based seminar in the art and practice of various modes of non-fiction writing, from the personal essay to literary criticism.

Instructor: Walter Kirn. Day and Time: Wednesdays, 9:30 AM to 12:20 PM

PQ: Instructor’s permission required. Please submit an 8 to 10 page nonfiction writing sample, accompanies by a short bio and list of publications, if any.


Beginning Poetry Writing (CRWR 10300/30300)

The purpose of this course is to help students develop strategies for writing their own poetry and for constructively reading the poetry of others. In addition to weekly discussion of student poems, there will be in-class writing experiments, readings of contemporary poetry, and weekly writing assignments. We will explore a wide range of approaches to writing poetry and examine closely basic poetic elements such as language, line, sound, and pattern in order to better understand how poems are constructed.

Instructor: Margaret Sloan. Day and Time: Tuesdays, 3:00 to 5:50 PM

PQ: Online registration. No submission necessary.


Intermediate Poetry: Topics in Poetics (CRWR 13004/33004)

In this course, we will explore fundamental concepts in the writing of lyric poetry. We will study traditional poetic forms and approaches alongside currents in contemporary lyric 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: Suzanne Buffam. Day and Time: Tuesdays, 3:00 to 5:50 PM

PQ: Instructor permission required. Please submit 5 to 10 pages of poems.


Advanced Poetry: Generative Genres (CRWR 23105/43104)

Poets often turn to the constraints and conventions of lyric forms (sonnets, sestinas, pantoums, etc.) as a way to generate material and experiment within a poetic tradition. The history of poetry, however, is as rich in genres as it is in forms. How is genre different from form? How do the two intersect? In this course we will study various traditional genres (the elegy, the ode, the dramatic monologue, for example) alongside such “non-poetic” genres as the essay, the obituary, and the travelogue, in the hopes of expanding and refining our encounter with the art.

Instructor: Suzanne Buffam. Wednesdays, 3:00 to 5:50 PM

PQ: Instructor permission required. Intermediate-level poetry course or instructor’s discretion. Please submit 5 to 10 pages of poems.


Visit the University Theater website for info about courses in Playwriting, Screenwriting, and TV Writing.