Course Catalog

All Creative Writing courses are now open bid. Pre-registration for all course types is available through my.uchicago.edu

Pre-registration for Fundamentals in Creative Writing, Technical Seminars, and Advanced Workshops prioritizes students who have officially declared the Creative Writing major, minor, or MAPH Creative Writing Option.

Contact instructors to be added to a waitlist. Additional details, including course times and locations, are listed on my.uchicago.edu

Beginning Autumn Quarter 2023, students are no longer required to submit a separate application or writing sample for Creative Writing courses.

Autumn Quarter begins Tuesday, September 26. Creative Writing courses are offered once per week for two hours and 50 minutes. The current canonical hours policy is here; view the academic calendar here.

Please sign up for the program's listserv for additional information and course application updates. 

 

CRWR 20412/40412 Technical Seminar in Nonfiction: The Writer as Researcher

Research is an essential and imaginative process for the nonfiction story, but in what ways are the writer’s methods unique to literary practice? This course will explore the role of research in writing creative nonfiction. Students will develop methods that play a role in writing essays, memoir, and literary journalism. The seminar will be conducted in four sequential parts: immersion research; interview techniques; library research; translating technical jargon for a public readership. Assignments will equip students with the practical steps for completing each style of research. We will also discuss how to integrate research into the descriptions, narrative, and subtext of the writing. Students will experiment with: dramatizing research through scene-building; using reflection to respond to their findings; and inviting research to become part of the plot. Research, we will find, generates some of the most dramatic and surprising moments in the writing process. We will read texts that correspond to the areas of focus, including works by Eula Biss, Daisy Hernandez, and Sarah Viren. Students will leave the course equipped to include research into their writing process for advanced writing workshops and thesis projects.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20224/40224 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Narrative Tempo

"At certain moments," writes Italo Calvino of his early literary efforts, "I felt that the entire world was turning into stone."  Slowness and speed govern not just the experience of writing but also the texture of our fictional worlds.  And this is something we can control.  Sublimely slow writers like Sebald or Duras can make time melt; spritely magicians like Aira and Rushdie seem to shuffle planes of reality with a snap of their fingers.  This seminar gathers fictions that pulse on eclectic wavelengths, asking in each case how narrative tempo embodies a fiction's character.  Our exercises will play with the dial of compositional speed, testing writing quick and slow; alternately, we'll try to recreate the effects of signature texts.  Weekly creative and critical responses will culminate in a final project.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20221/40221 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Detail

John Gardner said that the writer’s task is to create “a vivid and continuous fictional dream.” This technical seminar will focus on the role of detail in maintaining this 
dream. In this course we will deconstruct and rebuild our understanding of concepts like simile, showing vs. telling, and symbolism, asking what these tools do and what purpose they serve. Drawing from fiction and essays from Ottessa Moshfegh, Barbara Comyns, Zadie Smith, and others, students will practice noticing, seeing anew, and finding fresh and unexpected ways of describing. We will also examine what is worthy of detail in the first place, how detail functions outside of traditional scene, and the merits and limits of specificity, mimesis, and verisimilitude. Finally we will consider what it means to travel across a landscape of vagueness and euphemism as we search for the quality of “thisness” that James Wood claims all great details possess. In addition to assigned readings, students will be responsible for reading responses, short craft analyses, vigorous class participation, and several creative exercises and peer critiques applying these lessons.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 12159 Reading as a Writer: The Bad Girls Club

Jezebels, witches, femme fatales, nasty women, sirens, madwomen, and murderesses: the world over, these women of many names—whom we’ll collectively refer to as the Bad Girls Club—have alternately inspired the disdain and delight of multitudes. Whether jailed, expelled, excommunicated, or burned at the stake, their (anti)heroic antics have challenged, critiqued, or, some might say, corrupted the laws, mores, and sensibilities of societies. If it is true that polite, well-behaved women rarely make history, then what do impolite, badly-behaved women teach us about the construction of (his) story? In this course, we’ll examine literature from around the world featuring members of the Bad Girls Club, who in opposing complimentary constructions of femininity, femaleness, and power invite introspection on the gendered nature of story and storytelling. In short critical papers, we’ll analyze the tropes, features, and conventions of literature featuring these bad characters, and in short exercises, you’ll write stories, poems, and essays inspired by them.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. 

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12145 Reading as a Writer: Re-vision

To revise a piece of writing isn’t merely to polish it. Revision is transformation and yields an alternate reality. A new view, a re-vision. This course will start by tracking compositional process, looking at brilliant and disastrous drafts to compare the aesthetic and political consequences of different choices on the page. We’ll then study poems, essays, and stories that refute themselves and self-revise as they unfold, dramatizing mixed feelings and changing minds. We’ll end by considering erasure poetry as a form of critical revision. Our conversations will inspire weekly writing exercises and invite you to experiment with various creative revision strategies. Students will be asked to lead one presentation and to share their writing for group discussion.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. 

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12160 Reading as a Writer: Exploring the Weird

In 1917 the Russian critic Viktor Shklovsky coined the word 'ostranenie,'—translating roughly as 'defamiliarization'—to illustrate a concept that asks the writer or artist to see the everyday in new and unfamiliar ways. In fiction writing this means avoiding cliché while cultivating elements of surprise, the unexpected, the strange. It means the author offering a new perspective on something familiar, something surprising and, often, yes, a little weird. So what does it mean to follow the weird as a fiction or creative non-fiction writer? As a poet? How can we indulge that strange, uncanny, often suppressed side of ourselves in a way that not only serves a work of literary art but opens it up to new possibilities? This class will look at ways writers use defamiliarization and other techniques to create unexpected and sometimes jarring effects and will encourage students to take similar risks in their own writing. Students will view read various works of fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, view films, and read critical and craft- oriented 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.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12154 Reading as a Writer: Brevity

This course will consider brevity as an artistic mode curiously capable of articulating the unspeakable, the abyssal, the endless. Reading very brief works from a long list of writers, we will ask: when is less more? When is less less? What is minimalism? What is the impact of the fragment? Can a sentence be a narrative? Can a word comprise a poem? Our readings will include short poems, short essays, and short short stories by Yannis Ritsos, francine j. harris, Aram Saroyan, Richard Wright, Cecilia Vicuña, Kobayashi Issa, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Creeley, Lucille Clifton, Lydia Davis, Jamaica Kincaid, Franz Kafka, Joy Williams, Jenny Xie, Venita Blackburn, Jorge Luis Borges, Jean Valentine, Samuel Beckett, and others. Students will be asked to lead one presentation and to write critical and creative responses for group discussion.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. 

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12147 Intro to Genres: The River's Running Course

Crosslistings
ENST 22147

Rivers move--over land, through history, among peoples--and they make: landscapes and civilizations. They are the boundaries on our maps, the dividers of nations, of families, of the living and the dead, but they are also the arteries that connect us. They are meditative, meandering journeys and implacable, surging power. They are metaphors but also so plainly, corporeally themselves. In this course, we will encounter creative work about rivers, real and imaginary, from the Styx to the Amazon. Through poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and drama, we will consider what rivers are, what they mean to us, and how they are represented in art and literature. Rivers will be the topic and inspiration for our own creative writing, too. The goal for this course is to further your understanding of creative writing genres and the techniques that creative writers employ to produce meaningful work in each of those genres. You will also practice those techniques yourselves as write your own creative work in each genre.  Our weekly sessions will involve a mixture of discussions, brief lectures, student presentations, mini-workshops and in-class exercises. Most weeks, you will be responsible for a creative and/or critical response (300-500 words) to the reading, and the quarter will culminate in a final project (7-10 pages) in the genre of your choice, inspired by the Chicago River. 

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 17003 Fundamentals in Creative Writing: Truth

In this class we'll study how writers define and make use of truth--whatever that is. In some cases it's the truth, singular; in others a truth, only one among many. Some writers tell it straight, others slant. Some, like Tim O'Brien, advocate story-truth, the idea that fiction tells deeper truths than facts. To get at the heart of these and other unanswerable questions we'll read writers who've written about one event in two or more modes. Nick Flynn's poems about his father, for example, which he's also set down as comic strips as well as in prose. Jeanette Winterson's first novel as well as her memoir, sixteen years later, about what she'd been too afraid to say in it. Karl Marlantes' novel about the Vietnam war, then his essays about the events he'd fictionalized. Through weekly responses, creative exercises, and longer analytic essays you'll begin to figure out your own writerly truths, as well as the differences-and intersections-between them.

Prerequisites

This is class is restricted to students who have declared a major in Creative Writing or a minor in English and Creative Writing. Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Fundamentals

CRWR 17015 Fundamentals in Creative Writing: Sincerity (and Irony)

What does it mean for a piece of writing to be “sincere”? How do we know a (character, poem, “I,” essay) is “sincere”? What does it mean to make that judgment, and what does it commit us to? How does that judgment change a reader’s orientation to the object? We will approach these questions obliquely first, by thinking about how irony works. Are irony and sincerity opposites? We’ll look at a range of contemporary and historical objects in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. This will include essays by Kierkegaard, Oscar Wilde, Wayne Booth, Jonathan Swift, and R. Magill Jr., fiction by Vladimir Nabokov, Joanna Ruocco, and Kathy Acker, and poetry by Chelsey Minnis, Jenny Zhang, Amiri Baraka, and others. We’ll also consider certain internet objects and think about their relationship to sincerity (and irony). This course will give students a more nuanced and historically grounded handle on these questions, and will help them develop a style of writing that’s able to more intentionally (and interestingly) choose its tonal legibilities.

Prerequisites

This is class is restricted to students who have declared a major in Creative Writing or a minor in English and Creative Writing. Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

Kirsten Ihns
2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Fundamentals

CRWR 10306 Section 1/30306 Section 1 Beginning Poetry Workshop: Shaping Poems

This course introduces students to poetry writing first by exploring various ways of generating material, then by shaping that material into poems. We’ll refine devices such as image, rhythm, and metaphor while we also explore the musical movements of mind that lyricism makes available. The class will practice literary community building by discussing peers’ poems in workshops, by responding to poems and essays by contemporary and modern poets and critics, and by attending literary events on campus. For the first few sessions, we will focus primarily on readings and in class writing. As we move forward, we will spend most of class time workshopping student poems. Students can expect to turn in several drafts of poems, serve as discussion leaders, provide written comments to their peers, and assemble a final portfolio.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10306 Section 2/30306 Section 2 Beginning Poetry Workshop: Making and Breaking Form

In this course we will investigate the many forms poets have invented, remixed, and remade across time to sing their songs and express the news of the day. We will read poems ancient and contemporary, and also turn to song, video, dance, architecture, and other modes of expression to find inspiration to create our own new forms. We will study the components of a poem—syntax, music, imagery, sense, line—as we study larger structures a poem can take, and we will constantly be mindful of the historical dimension of our practice. We will become familiar with the campus arts calendar, as attendance at a minimum of two events (at least one literary) is required. Emphasis will be on writing exercises, student presentations on course readings, and student-led workshops of each other’s poems generated during the course. These writing efforts will be discussed by the class in workshops and revised for a final portfolio comprised of drafts of poems accompanied by a critical consideration and a clippings journal featuring other people’s poems, articles, and images gathered during the quarter.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

Nick Twemlow
2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10406 Section 1/30406 Section 1 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop: The Meditative Essay

It has been said that good questions outrank easy answers. The meditative essay gives us a tool to refine our curiosities again and again: Who are we? How did we get here? What keeps us going? What holds us back? Where are we headed, really? Students in this class will tackle some of life’s biggest questions in a “field notebook” with the goal of developing— and helping each other develop— true, bold, idea-driven essays that render us a little more lucid and in love with the act of wondering. We’ll read essayists and narrators who specialize in the art of reverie, such as Fernando Pessoa, Sei Shōnagon, and Lia Purpura. Half of class-time will be dedicated to student-led discussions of original works in progress with the goal of exchanging constructive feedback and practicing revision as a form of inquiry. Students will direct their own learning with self-evaluations and a conference with the instructor about their developing goals, culminating in a final portfolio that is something to write home about.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10406 Section 2/30406 Section 2 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop: Oral History

We will study the theory and practice of Oral History, and we will create original oral accounts from a wide range of Chicago communities. We will work to understand the method and politics of Oral History, and to gain facility in practice and written presentation. Oral History, the poetry of the everyday, the literature of the street, is perfectly poised to open a narrative space where an interviewer, listening with empathy and identification, and a story-teller, seizing an occasion to perform an account of events and experiences, co-create and reveal a universe of meaning-making. Each student will create an original oral account, and each will have the opportunity to introduce a narrator (or a group of narrators) while making a presentation to the Class/Workshop, employing any of the many approaches that we will have studied—theater, poetry, narrative, documentary, comix, film, podcasting. Our goal is to understand the method and politics of Oral History, and to gain facility in practice and presentation.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 3/30206 Section 3 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Writing From Life

“Write what you know” is common and clichéd creative writing advice, but also happens to be quite helpful to those of us new to fiction. In this Beginning Fiction workshop, we’ll use memories as the raw material for our fiction, concerning ourselves with telling stories effectively rather than telling the truth and leveraging our deep impressions of real people, places and time to create convincing imagined worlds. Along the way, we’ll read the work of writers who have used their own experiences and impressions in fiction, such as Jayne Anne Phillips, Edward P. Jones, Annie Ernaux, and James Baldwin, among others, and discuss the benefits, limitations and ethical questions of writing fiction from lived experience. Many of our in-class activities and exercises will focus on training ourselves to remember more effectively in an effort to understand more deeply the relationship between memory and imagination. To be successful, students will read and write actively and share their well-informed opinions with enthusiasm, especially in our workshop discussions.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 1/30206 Section 1 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Finding a Narrative Home

All writers are exiles wherever they live and their work is a lifelong journey toward a lost land.” So wrote Janet Frame, a singularly talented author who was institutionalized at the age of 21, then saved from a lobotomy only because she won a literary prize. In keeping with Frame’s reflection, this craft-based course will focus on strategies for saving our lives through fiction writing: how to cultivate a convincing voice; how to extract strength from our writerly weaknesses; and, ultimately, how to forge a home for ourselves in our own words. Through a combination of creative exercises, we will explore and examine the craft components of strong, original fictions, including character development, descriptive detail, compelling dialogue, and rich sentences. We’ll also learn how to read the works of published writers for creative inspiration, mining texts by masters such as Janet Frame, Alice Munro, Julio Cortazar, Sofia Samatar, and Yasunari Kawabata. Primarily, we will workshop original student writing throughout the term, developing a portfolio of stories that reflect our individual interests, desires, and needs as writers.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 2/30206 Section 2 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Crafting Complex Characters

In life and in fiction writing, character development is often synonymous with major challenges: obstacles that demand deep investigation, adaptation, and change. Using the character-driven models of Tove Ditlevsen, Ottessa Moshfegh, Lucia Berlin, Edwidge Danticat, Eileen Chang, and other writers, this Beginning Fiction Workshop will explore strategies for crafting complex characters: illustrating their motives, perspectives, and arcs of evolution. Through a combination of generative writing exercises and writing workshops (wherein students will share original work and receive critical feedback from the class), each student will produce at least one complete short story.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 4/30206 Section 4 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Basics of Narrative Design

Describing fiction writing as an “art” is perhaps a misnomer. Depending on who’s describing it, the process of creating a narrative is more like driving in the dark, or woodworking, or gardening. The metaphors abound, but the techniques for creating effective fictional prose are often quite consistent. This course will begin with a weeks-long consideration of selected works of fiction where discussion will aim to distinguish the basic devices of effective storytelling. Weekly topics will range from subjects as broad as point of view and plot arrangement to more highly focused lessons on scene design, dialog, and word choice. Throughout the term, the writing process will be broken down into stages where written work will focus on discrete story parts such as first pages, character introductions, and dialog-driven scenes before students are asked to compose full-length narratives. Along the way, students will chart their processes of conceptualizing, drafting, and revising their narratives. Finally, in the latter weeks of the quarter, emphasis will shift to the workshopping of students’ full stories.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 23132/43132 Advanced Poetry Workshop: Poets' Prose

“Which one of us, in his moments of ambition, has not dreamed of the miracle of a poetic prose," wrote Charles Baudelaire in Paris Spleen,"... supple enough and rugged enough to adapt itself to the lyrical impulses of the soul, the undulations of reverie, the jibes of conscience?” This genre-blurring workshop will explore elements of the history and practice of the prose poem, and other poems and texts that combine strategies, forms and gestures of prose (fiction, nonfiction, etc.) with those of poetry. We will also read texts that are difficult to classify in terms of genre. “Flash Fiction,” “Short Shorts,” the fable, the letter, the mini-essay, and the lyric essay will be examined, among others. We will discuss the literary usefulness (or lack of it) of genre and form labels. The class will be taught as a workshop: students will try their hand at writing in their choices of hybrid forms, and will be encouraged to experiment. Writers from all genres are welcome, as what we will be studying, discussing, and writing will involve the fruitful collision of literary genres.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 23137/43137 Advanced Poetry Workshop: Poetry, Archives, and History

This course introduces fundamental ideas about poetic form and approaches to poetic writing through close reading and discussion of poetry (modern and contemporary but not exclusively). We will consider poetic elements from the ground-up—reading closely for sound, image, syntax, and meaning—in order to enliven those elements in student writing. Likewise, we will consider how poems appear at a crossroads between history and experience (the past and present) in order to inspire students to write not only about themselves but about real and imagined social, cultural, historical, and intellectual locations and horizons (considering such aspects of poetry writing as geography, history, mythology, anthropology, kinship, science, visual media, audio media, etc). We will do so in conversation with our peers by way of regular presentations and workshops, in which students will give feedback to one another’s works, learning thus how to read critically while generously, and how to respond collegially while also constructively. At the end of the quarter students will revise drafts based on class writing exercises and workshop conversations, to produce a portfolio prefaced by a critical reflection. The arc of the class also involves the making of a collaborative syllabus (with a wide range of texts offered and guided by the instructor but available to the creative configuration of the students themselves), to strengthen our grasp of archival and curatorial aspects of poetry writing.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24021/44021 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: The Trouble with Trauma

In “The Body Keeps the Score” Bessel van der Kolk writes, “The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.” Many trauma survivors begin writing reluctantly, even repulsed by the impulse to query their woundedness. The process is inhibited by stigma surrounding the notion of victimhood, entities that would prefer a survivor's silence, plus our tendency to dismiss and devalue one's suffering in relation to others. Students in this class will shed some of these constricting patterns of thinking about trauma so they may freely explore their stories with confidence, compassion, curiosity, and intention. We'll read authors who have found surprise, nuance, and yes, healing through art, honoring the heart-work that happens behind the scenes. Half of class-time will include student-led workshops of original works in progress. Paramount to our success will be an atmosphere of safety, supportiveness, respect, and confidentiality. By the quarter's end each student will leave with a piece of writing that feels both true to their experience and imbued with possibility. 

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24027/44027 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Environmental Writing, Editing, and Publication

Environmental writing is a quickly-expanding field in the literary and publishing community. It encompasses nonfiction sub-genres of traditional journalism, personal essay, and hybrid forms. This course is designed for students in creative writing with an interest in environmental reportage; it is also intended for students in environmental sciences (broadly speaking) with some writing experience who wish to practice presenting complex information to a non-expert audience. Reading contemporary environmental and science writing, students will develop nonfiction techniques relevant to writing environmental stories, like how to find and contact field experts, how to engage readers in complex topics, how to integrate research into narrative, how to use dialogue from interviews, how to weave the personal together with research material, and how to pitch environmental stories. The course will also cover the practical aspects* of the field by including a workshop with the Careers in Creative Writing Journalism program, guest lectures from editors and journalists in the field, and assignments that familiarize students with current environmental literary magazines. Readings will include Kerri Arsenault’s Mill Town and selections from The Best American Science and Nature Writing.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22132/42132 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Strange Magic in Short Fiction

In this workshop based course we'll investigate how strangeness and magic function in short fiction. We'll read stories by authors like Kelly Link, Carmen Maria Machado, and Alice Sola Kim, examining how these writers portray the fantastical and impossible. We'll explore concepts like defamiliarization, versimilitude, and the uncanny. We will contemplate how magical realism and surrealism differ from sci-fi and fantasy genre writing, and ask how we, as writers, can make the quotidian seem extraordinary and the improbable seem inevitable, and to what end? Students will complete several short creative exercises and workshop one story that utilizes magic or strange effects. Students will also be expected to write thoughtful, constructive critiques of peer work. Throughout the course, we'll consider how the expectations of literary fiction might constrain such narratives, and we can engage with and transcend these archetypes. 

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22156/42156 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Narrator as Personality

While aspiring writers usually grasp quickly how to write direct dialog—we hear it all around us, in public and private spaces—narration is a trickier enterprise. In this writing workshop, we will look at the narrator as personality, a voice that exists to tell the story, but not always to enter it. The narrator can be a constant, like an elbow in the side, or effaced, touching down to only give us the basics of time and place. They can be all knowing, summarizing scenes, people and events from a distant, God-like vantage, or reportorial, speaking in present tense as events unfurl. Some narrators make us laugh but are conning us with their charm; others explain the psychology of events like a great therapist or moralize like a member of the clergy. We will read a wide range of examples from writers like Edward P. Jones, Anton Chekhov, Salman Rushdie, Amy Hempel, Yiyun Li, and Louise Erdrich. Students will be encouraged to experiment in both writing exercises and story revisions. By the end of the course, you will have generated significant raw material and workshopped one story, which you will revise for the final.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

 

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22140/42140 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Killing Cliché

It’s long been said that there are no new stories, only new ways of telling old ones, but how do writers reengage familiar genres, plots, and themes without being redundant? This course will confront the literary cliché at all levels, from the trappings of genre to predictable turns of plot to the subtly undermining forces of mundane language. We will consider not only how stories can fall victim to cliché but also how they may benefit from calling on recognizable content for the sake of efficiency, familiarity, or homage. Through an array of readings that represent unique concepts and styles as well as more conventional narratives we will examine how published writers embrace or subvert cliché through story craft. Meanwhile, student fiction will be discussed throughout the term in a supportive workshop atmosphere that will aim not to expose clichés in peer work, but to consider how an author can find balance—between the familiar and the unfamiliar, between the predictable and the unpredictable—in order to maximize a story’s effect. Students will submit two stories to workshop and will be asked to write critiques of all peer work.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22117/42117 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Beginning a Novel

This workshop is for any student with a novel in progress or an interest in starting one. Our focus will be the opening chapter, arguably the most consequential one—for the reader naturally, but most importantly for us the writer. How might it introduce the people and world of the story, its premise or central conflict, its narrative tone and style? How might it intrigue, orient, or even challenge the reader and begin teaching them how to read the book? And if the opening chapter is our very starting point as the writer, how might it help us figure out the dramatic shape of our novel, its thematic concerns, its conceptual design? We’ll apply such questions to the opening chapters of an exemplary mix of novels—The Great Gatsby, The Age of Innocence, Invisible Man, Beloved, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, The Vegetarian, Normal People, etc.—and examine what they are expected to do as well as what they can unexpectedly do. And as everyone workshops the first chapter (or prologue) of their own novel, we’ll consider ways of adjusting or rethinking them so that the author can better understand their project overall and build on all the promise of the material they have.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 29300/49300 Thesis/Major Projects in Poetry (2)

This thesis workshop is for students writing a creative BA or MA thesis in poetry, as well as creative writing minors completing the portfolio. Because it is a thesis workshop, 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.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 29300/49300 Thesis/Major Projects in Poetry (1)

This thesis workshop is for students writing a creative BA or MA thesis in poetry, as well as creative writing minors completing the portfolio. Because it is a thesis workshop, 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.

Robyn Schiff
2023-2024 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 29400/49400 Thesis/Major Projects in Nonfiction (2)

This thesis workshop is for students writing a creative BA or MA thesis in nonfiction, as well as creative writing minors completing the portfolio. Student work 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.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 29400/49400 Thesis/Major Projects in Nonfiction (1)

This thesis workshop is for students writing a creative BA or MA thesis in nonfiction, as well as creative writing minors completing the portfolio. Student work 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.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 29200/49200 Thesis/Major Projects in Fiction (6)

This thesis workshop is for students writing a creative BA or MA thesis in fiction, as well as creative writing minors completing the portfolio. 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.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 29200/49200 Thesis/Major Projects in Fiction (5)

This thesis workshop is for students writing a creative BA or MA thesis in fiction, as well as creative writing minors completing the portfolio. 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.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 29200/49200 Thesis/Major Projects in Fiction (4)

This thesis workshop is for students writing a creative BA or MA thesis in fiction, as well as creative writing minors completing the portfolio. 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.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 29200/49200 Thesis/Major Projects in Fiction (3)

This advanced fiction course is for BA, MA, and Minor students writing a creative thesis or portfolio, as well as for any advanced student on campus working on a major fiction project. It is primarily a workshop, so we will spend the majority of the quarter reading excerpts from your projects in progress and offering ways of improving and moving them forward. As in any writing workshop, we will stress the fundamentals of craft (like language, point of view, plot and character development), with an eye also on how to shape your work for the longer form you have chosen. To supplement our workshops, everyone will give presentations on the authors and works of fiction that have informed their writing and on publishing, literary magazines, and the first steps of getting one’s work out into the world. If the schedule allows, we can also spend class-time in conversation on a topic of particular interest or urgency to the writers in the class, whether student-recommended or stemming from previous classes. 

 

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 29200/49200 Thesis/Major Projects in Fiction (2)

This Thesis/Major Projects Workshop is designed for students working on creative writing thesis projects in fiction. Together, we will use the workshop to create new material and to revise, exploring how fiction writers make readable structures out of the chaos of experience and imagination. Our guiding questions include: what stories can a work of fiction tell, and how? What is "true" in fiction, and what is the relationship between journalistic truth and artistic truth? You are already familiar with the fundamentals of plot and character; we will continue to hone the skills you've learned, toward writing characters who are multidimensional, plots that move, and contexts that matter. Narrative voice is an essential tool for creating coherence as well as raising (fictional) stakes. In every scene we read and write, we will consider the impact of the use of inside or outside perspective, declarative scenes and actions, and interiority. The perspectives and situations students write should be original, inimitable, and fresh; the prose should aim to keep lively even topics that are timeless: coming of age, culture, identity, death, and family. As students create and polish their capstone projects, their work will serve as an occasion on which to consider authorial perspective, structure, and craft. We will look carefully at the shapes of projects, exploring why some works organically belong to fiction and others to dramatic writing, poetry, or creative non-fiction. Sometimes students will adapt pages into other forms, in an effort to test their elasticity and allow them their fullest range of expression.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

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

This thesis workshop is for students writing a creative BA or MA thesis in fiction, as well as creative writing minors completing the portfolio. 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.

 

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR Technical Seminar in Poetry: Prosody

This course will be a deep dive into prosody. What is prosody? Merriam-Webster describes it as “the rhythmic and intonational aspect of language” — we might also describe it as the way poems move, and how they move their reader. Arguably one of the most important (and least visible) aspects of poetic composition, prosody can teach you to see and write differently. We’ll begin with an introduction to historical metrics (the boring but necessary part), and then move on to studying more contemporary models. Readings will include a bit of scholarly work on prosody by Rosemary Gates and Boris Maslov, but mostly we’ll read poems, from the 12th century to the 21st, that foreground prosody and rhythmic structure. This will be a practice-intensive class—you will be asked to produce several exercises a week, in addition to a final paper or project.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

Kirsten Ihns
2023-2024 Winter
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20410/40410 Technical Seminar in Nonfiction: Epistolary Form

When does a body of writing become “literary”? What stories might be found inside the hastily scrawled lines of a postcard buried in the attic or an incomplete to-do list drifting down the sidewalk? Beginning with the modern epistle and epistolary novel, this cross-genre seminar orbits the space where non- literary documents give way to artistic compositions that a given set of experts would otherwise neatly categorize and deposit somewhere literature is supposed to belong. As we practice the interplay of research and imagination toward the realization of a final project, we’ll examine how writers of nonfiction and documentary poetics have used everything from blueprints of a prison cell to vaudeville ephemera to frame, develop, and heighten true stories. We’ll consider ethics of authority such as information access, authentication, and journalistic objectivity alongside rhetorical matters of credibility, emotional truth, and the serviceability of facts. Come play in the archives and observe the power of repurposed material.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20233/40233 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Who Sees and Who Speaks?

What is the nature of the encounter between a narrator and a character, and how do elements of character and plot play out in narrative points of view? Drawing on the narratological work of theorists such as Gérard Genette and Monika Fludernik and of critics such as James Wood, this technical seminar considers what point of view, perspective, and focalization can do or make possible. Readings may include stories by Jorge Luis Borges, Jamaica Kincaid, Haruki Murakami, Jenny Zhang, William Faulkner, Lorrie Moore, Jamil Jan Kochai, Italo Calvino, Ursula K. Le Guin, Gabriel García Márquez, Edith Wharton, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, Edwidge Danticat, Jhumpa Lahiri, Lesley Nneka Arimah, and Virginia Woolf, among others, and will introduce instances of first-person-plural and second-person narrative, as well as modes of representing speech and thought such as free indirect discourse. Over the course of the quarter, students will write short analyses and creative exercises, culminating in a final project.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20203/40203 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Research and World Building

Writing fiction is in large part a matter of convincing worldbuilding, no matter what genre you write in. And convincing worldbuilding is about creating a seamless reality within the elements of that world: from setting, to social systems, to character dynamics, to the story or novel’s conceptual conceit. And whether it be within a genre of science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, or even contemporary realism, building a convincing world takes a good deal of research. So while we look closely at the tools and methods of successful worldbuilding, we will also dig into the process of research. From how and where to mine the right details, to what to look for. We will also focus on how research can make a fertile ground for harvesting ideas and even story. Students will read various works of long and short fiction with an eye to its worldbuilding, 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.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20217/40217 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Elements of Style

What we call style is more than literary flourish. Control of a story begins with a writer’s characteristic approach to the line. Style dictates and shapes immersive and impactful worlds of our creation. It’s also indicative of a work’s larger themes, philosophies, and aesthetic sensibility. In this class, we’ll examine fiction by wordsmiths such as James Baldwin, Gabriel García Márquez, Toni Morrison, and Marguerite Duras in order to explore the influence that elements such as diction, syntax, rhythm, and punctuation have on a writer’s style.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins. 

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 12143 Reading as a Writer: Embodied Language

This course studies how writers engage the senses to shape language into something actually felt and not just comprehended. We’ll track the sensual life of words—what they do to the mouth, to the ear, their musical kinships with one another—and learn how these qualities combine to generate mood and atmosphere. Alongside writing that renders embodiment and the physical world, we’ll read writing that makes abstraction feel concrete. Our weekly readings will guide our ongoing inquiry into questions such as: what constitutes an image? How does writing enact feeling? How do the sensory elements of a piece intensify or erode or expand its subject, and to what end? Texts will include poetry and prose by Sei Shōnagon, Francis Ponge, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Gwendolyn Brooks, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Wanda Coleman, Vasko Popa, Lorine Niedecker, Ai, Durga Chew-Bose, Shane McCrae, Jenny Zhang, Justin Torres, James Baldwin, Deborah Eisenberg, and many others. Each member of the class will be asked to write weekly critical and creative responses, to give one presentation, and to produce a final project at the end of the quarter.

Prerequisites

Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Arts Core Courses

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

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, Baldwin, Bechdel, Carson, Northup, and Rankine.

Prerequisites

Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12151 Intro to Genres: The Gothic Lens

The Gothic is arguably the most evocative of all storytelling genres. As haunting as it is seductive in its ambiguities and luridly symbolic tropes, no form more powerfully captures our encounters with the irrational and the inexplicable, whether in nature, in others, or in ourselves. In this Arts Core course, we will approach the genre through all its forbidding yet intimate qualities. As we read Gothic fiction from different eras and cultures, from both a reader’s perspective and a writer’s perspective (the why/how/who of the author’s decisions), we’ll cover concepts like the sublime, the uncanny, and abjection, examining the work’s sociopolitical layers but aiming our brightest light on its psychological underpinnings. We’ll ask ourselves: in what ways does the Gothic mirror the most vulnerable and obscure aspects of the self? What might these extraordinary stories of transgression, violence, or supernatural conflict reveal about the horrors of ordinary life, the vagaries of our hidden desires, anxieties, and pathologies? Our focus on the psychological and evocative nature of the genre, especially from a writer’s point of view, will also help us write our Gothic Scenes, where everyone will apply their own intimate “gothic lens” to memorable encounters from their recent past. 

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR Intro to Genres: Speculative Women

Crosslistings
GNSE 22148

Intro to Genres: Speculative Women Despite common misconceptions, women have been at the forefront of the speculative genre from its earliest inceptions. They have not merely defied the limitations and restraints of literature as defined by their contemporary society, but invented whole worlds and genres which continue to influence writers and writing as a whole today—from Mary Shelley’s 1818 publication of "Frankenstein" to Virginia Woolf’s 1928 publication of "Orlando," and even Margaret Cavendish’s 1666 novel, “The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing-World." This course will be a brief foray into the strange and yet familiar worlds of various women across the history of speculative writing, ranging from Mary Shelley to Ursula K. Leguin, from Lady Cavendish to Margaret Atwood, from Alice Walker to Octavia E. Butler.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins; contact the instructor for a spot in the class or on the waiting list.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12165 Intro to Genres: Short Form Screenwriting

This course explores short form screenwriting, as distinct from feature-length or episodic screenwriting. In addition to studying the essential elements of a screenplay, we will read, view, and discuss approaches to scripting brief documentary, poetic, and fictional time-based works. This work will prepare us for in- and out-of-class writing exercises in these modes, which students will often discuss in a workshop environment. Students will respond in creative and critical ways to the screenings and readings; present on a specific time-based work or creator; and write in the short screenwriting formats under study, culminating in a final creative project.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list.

Nick Twemlow
2023-2024 Winter
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 17012 Fundamentals in Creative Writing: Creative Research/The Numinous Particulars

According to Philip Gerard, “Creative research is both a process and a habit of mind, an alertness to the human story as it lurks in unlikely places.” Creative writers may lean on research to sharpen the authenticity of their work; to liberate themselves from the confines of their personal experience; to mine existing stories and histories for details, plot, settings, characters; to generate new ideas and approaches to language, theme and story. The creative writer/researcher is on the hunt for the numinous particulars, the mysteries and human stories lurking in the finest grains of detail. In this course, we will explore the research methods used by creative writers and consider questions that range from the logistical (eg. How do I find what I need in an archive?) to the ethical (eg. How do I conscientiously write from a point of view outside my own experience?) to the aesthetic (eg. How do I incorporate all these researched details without waterlogging the poem/story/essay?). We will read poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction that relies heavily on research and hear from established writers about the challenges of conducting and writing from research. Assignments will include reading responses, creative writing and research exercises, short essays and presentations.

Prerequisites

Students must be a declared Creative Writing major or Minor in English and Creative Writing to enroll. Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. 

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Fundamentals

CRWR 10306 Section 1/30306 Section 1 Beginning Poetry Workshop (1): Poetic Line in the Americas

This workshop-centered course introduces writers to foundational concepts and tools in the craft of poetry, including form, diction, voice, line, and meter. Regular assignments include both prompts and imitations in poetry writing, and will culminate in a final portfolio developed in working consultation with the instructor. In particular, we will explore formal adaptations of “the line” as “measure” within American poets' work. A short unit within the course will also be dedicated to the translation of poets writing outside of English. Poets whose work will be discussed include Emily Dickinson, Nate Marshall, Bernadette Mayer, Frank O'Hara, Adrienne Rich, Sappho, César Vallejo, Walt Whitman, and poets visiting the UChicago campus.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10406 Section 2/30406 Section 2 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop: Art of the Fact

Though we live in an era glutted with data, facts don’t speak for themselves. It’s story that moves us. In this class, we will engage in an exploration of creative nonfiction, investigating how to repurpose lived experience and researched material for a memorable story. Together we will read exemplary forms of creative nonfiction—personal essay, memoir, lyric nonfiction, science writing, nature writing, and cultural criticism—to ask how events are shaped into stories, facts into truths. This course will be conducted as a writing workshop, and we will examine the readings and workshop submissions from a critical perspective, looking carefully at issues of style, content, and relevance. In doing so, we hope to gain a more nuanced understanding of creative nonfiction as a whole, as well our particular positions within the genre. Readings will include: James Baldwin, Eula Biss, Derga Chew-Bose, John D'Agata, Jenny Zhang, and others.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10406 Section 1/30406 Section 1 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop: Anecdotes and Reflections

In the same way that water is composed of two elements—hydrogen and oxygen—the personal essay essentially consists of anecdotes and reflections, i.e., facts and thoughts, or the objective and the subjective. What happened, and what what happened *means*. The artistry of the essay consists of not only balancing these two elements but combining them so that they complement but also contradict one another. In this workshop you’ll write multiple drafts of your own attempt at the form while line editing and critiquing your classmates’ attempts. At the same time we’ll read (and write about) foundational essays that are in overt dialogue with one another, starting with “Why I Write,” by George Orwell, and “Why I Write,” by Joan Didion. We’ll read James Baldwin in conjunction with the seminal essay he inspired Adrienne Rich to write, then look at infusions of poetry into the form via Natalia Ginzburg and Margaret Atwood. We'll end by reading Didion’s essay, “Goodbye to All That,” paired with Eula Biss' cover version, also titled "Goodbye to All That." You'll leave knowing the recent history, basic theory, and practice of nonfiction's most fundamental form.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 2/30206 Section 2 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Short Story

Describing fiction writing as an “art” is perhaps a misnomer. Depending on who’s describing it, the process of creating a narrative is more like driving in the dark, or woodworking, or gardening. The metaphors abound, but the techniques for creating effective fictional prose are often quite consistent. This course will begin with a weeks-long consideration of selected works of fiction where discussion will aim to distinguish the basic devices of effective storytelling. Weekly topics will range from subjects as broad as point of view and plot arrangement to more highly focused lessons on scene design, dialog, and word choice. Throughout the term, the writing process will be broken down into stages where written work will focus on discrete story parts such as first pages, character introductions, and dialog-driven scenes before students are asked to compose full-length narratives. Along the way, students will chart their processes of conceptualizing, drafting, and revising their narratives. Finally, in the latter weeks of the quarter, emphasis will shift to the workshopping of students’ full stories.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 1/30206 Section 1 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Love & Loss

From “The Little Mermaid” to The Giving Tree, many of us are first introduced to storytelling through tales of love, loss, and self-sacrifice. In this class, we will hone our craft as writers via stories of love and loss, exploring the models of Silvina Ocampo, Christine Schutt, Carmen Maria Machado, Izumi Suzuki, Kelly Link, Camille Roy, and other writers. This course will use “the love story” as a foundation for character development, communication on the page, descriptive language, and the cultivation of unique emotional atmospheres. The class will feature in-class generative writing and a formal workshop (wherein students will share original work and receive critical feedback).

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 21505/41505 Advanced Translation Workshop: Prose Style

Purple, lean, evocative, muscular, literary, exuberant, lucid, stilted, elliptical. 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.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 23136/43136 Advanced Poetry Workshop: Poetry as Parasite

Might there be a kind of poem that acts like a parasite latched on to a host body? A poem whose very life is the fusion of various sources, voices, discourses? This poetry workshop invites students to read and write poetry that, either overtly or subtly, engages with other texts. We’ll examine ways that poems create intertextual relationships (e.g. quoting, voicing, alluding, echoing, stealing, sampling, imitating, translating…) and test out these methods in our own writing. Students should expect to engage with the basic question of how their work relates to other poets and poems. Expect to read a substantial amount of work by modern and contemporary poets, submit new original poems for workshop, complete intertextual writing exercises, participate in discussion forums with both initial response papers and follow-up comments, critique peers’ work, and submit a final portfolio. A substantial amount of class time will be spent workshopping student work.

 

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 23138/43138 Advanced Poetry Workshop: Poetics of Procedure and Constraint

“Rats who build the labyrinth from which they will try to escape” is how Raymond Queneau famously described the members of Oulipo, a group of international writers and mathematicians founded in France in 1960, and which still thrives today. The group’s aim is to use constraints and procedures to create new literary forms. (“Oulipo” is an acronym that stands for Workshop or Sewing Circle of Potential Literature.) In a similar spirit of playful experiment, we will take a hands-on approach, with students composing new drafts each week. We will experiment with a variety of methods, ranging from traditional verse forms to concrete poetry; creative translations; re-writing; erasures; collages; documentary and research-based poetics; site-specific and ritual poetry; incorporating film, sound, image; and a selection of stimulating Oulipian constraints (e.g. only using certain letters or writing three versions of the same poem, etc.). As we workshop students’ drafts, we will discuss topics including inspiration, authorship, form, copying and plagiarism; poetry, activism, and social justice; and the idea of “fact” in poetry. At the end of the quarter, you’ll revise your drafts and collect them in a portfolio.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24029/44029 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Writing Sports

As live performance, public ritual, and sheer melodrama, sports give lavish expression to some of our most deeply held cultural attitudes. As sports-related industries have grown exponentially in the past decades, and as the material and political fortunes at stake in these games has also grown, so too has the need for serious writing about sports. The world’s stadiums and arenas have become theaters of very real battles over race and gender, class and religion, colonialism and social justice. At the same time, the games themselves have also changed in fascinating and telling ways. This workshop invites writers who are curious about sports as a subject for literary exploration. We examine the subject through various genres of nonfiction, from longform journalism to personal essay to audio storytelling. Our readings will include both canonical and contemporary voices in sports writing. Workshop writers can choose to build a portfolio of three pieces of original nonfiction, or one long piece in three parts. No previous knowledge of sports is required.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24028/44028 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: World-Building in Longform Nonfiction

A writer setting out to write a long piece of nonfiction prose may assume that the world of the piece is given, but in fact the nonfiction writer has significant work to do to create a space where a reader can live. In writing creative biography, history, memoir, literary criticism, art writing, and narrative journalism, there are wonderful possibilities for archival research, visiting places and spaces, making first hand observations, interviewing, finding settings and characters, and atmospheric research, whether reading old magazines, listening to radio shows, or studying weather patterns. In this course, advanced writers will immerse themselves in one longer project, developing it in notebooks and weekly postings and exercises. The first half of the course will focus more on practicing and reading (writers including Elizabeth Rush, Zbigniew Herbert, Valeria Luiselli, and James Baldwin), the second half will focus on workshopping as the longer pieces develop. Students will finish the course with a sustained piece of prose.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22135/42135 Advanced Fiction Workshop: The Long and Short of It: Narrative Time

A story's end point determines its meaning. The history of a life can be covered in a sentence, a few pages or seven volumes. How do writers decide? In this advanced workshop, we'll look at different ways to handle narrative time, paying special attention to building blocks like direct and summary scene, flashback, compression, slowed time and fabulist time. We'll examine work by writers whose long stories feel like novels, like Alice Munro and Edward P. Jones, alongside those who say everything in a short single scene of a page or two, like Grace Paley and Justin Torres. Students will be encouraged to experiment with time in both writing exercises and their own drafts as they work toward a polished final story. Strong emphasis on focused and productive peer critique and in-class commentary.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22149/42149 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Long Stories

"The advantage, the luxury, as well as the torment and responsibility of the novelist," writes Henry James, "is that there is no limit to what he may attempt." Writers interested in these torments and luxuries can begin to experiment with long form in this workshop. Each student will compose a single long story of about forty pages. We'll attend to the freshness of beginnings, the satisfactions (and compromises) of endings and, most acutely, to the crises of middles. A scaffolding of workshops, outlines, and conferences will support and structure your efforts. Along the way we'll explore the opportunities of long-form structure with examples from the likes of David Foster Wallace, Alice Munro, Ted Chiang, and Toni Morrison.  Most of our class time will be devoted to workshopping long stories by students.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22146/42146 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Disruption & Disorder

This workshop-based course proceeds from the premise that disorder and disruption are fruitful aesthetics that might be applied to numerous elements of fiction to unlock new possibilities in our work. Students will seek to identify typical narrative conventions and lyrical patterns and then write away from them—or write over them, toward subversion, surprise, and perhaps even a productive anarchy. Students will search for hidden structures in work by Taeko Kono, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Diane Williams, Garielle Lutz, and others, examining the methods these writers use to lead readers to unexpected, original, and transgressive places. Students will complete several short creative exercises in which they practice disruption and disorder in plot, pace, dialogue, and syntax. In the second half of the course, students will workshop one story or excerpt and write thoughtful, constructive critiques of peer work. Revision is also a crucial component of this class, as it is an opportunity to radically warp and deviate from our prior visions. Throughout the quarter, we will attempt to interrupt and shake up our own inclinations as artists.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 20309/40309 Technical Seminar in Poetry: Generative Genres

Why does it feel so good to write a curse? What is an ode and how is it different from an aubade? From ancient Sumerian temple hymns to 7th-century Japanese death poems to avant-garde ekphrasis in the 21st century, the history of poetry is as rich in genres as it is in forms. In this technical seminar we will study the origins, transcultural functions, and evolving conventions of some of the oldest-living genres of lyric poetry – the ode, the elegy, the love poem, the curse, to name a few. We will read living writers such as Alice Oswald, Danez Smith, Kim Hyesoon, and Natalie Diaz alongside historical forerunners including Sei Shonagon, John Keats, Federico Garcia Lorca, Sylvia Plath, and Paul Celan. Students will write weekly experiments of their own in response to our readings, and for a final project they will edit a mini- anthology of a lyric sub-genre of their choice, including a short critical introduction.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20404/40404 Technical Seminar in Nonfiction: Forms of the Essay

The essay, derived from the French term essayer meaning "to try" or "to attempt," is not only a beloved sub-genre of creative nonfiction, but a form that yields many kinds of stories, thus many kinds of structures. Araceli Arroyo writes that the essay can “reach its height in the form of a lyric, expand in digression, coil into a list, delve into memoir, or spring into the spire of the question itself all with grace and unexhausted energy.” In this course, we will analyze the essay’s continuum, marked by traditional, linear narratives on one end, and at the other, everything else. In our class, we will investigate the relationship between content and form. What does it mean to be scene-driven? What happens when a narrative abandons chronology and event, propelled instead by language and image? What is gained through gaps and white space? You will leave this class with a strong grasp of content’s relationship to form, prepared to participate effectively in creative writing workshops. You will also create a portfolio of short writings that can be expanded into longer pieces. 

Readings will include: Nox by Anne Carson; A Bestiary by Lily Hoang; Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli; Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine; Essayists on the Essay edited by Ned Stuckey-French

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20209/40209 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Scenes & Seeing

At the core of literary storytelling is dramatization, which enables a reader to "see" the world, characters, and incidents at play and to vicariously experience their emotional and psychological consequences in the story. The primary vehicle for dramatization in a story is the scene, which consists of many crucial parts: characterization, setting and imagery, dialogue and action, tone and atmosphere, subtext and thematic development. In this course we’ll break down all these parts and examine how they can function on their own as well as interact to bring a moment or event to life. Where and how should a particular scene begin and end? How should information be organized? How might we determine a scene’s goals in isolation and in support of the larger narrative of a short story, novella, or novel? And ultimately, beyond characters talking, acting, and reacting, how might we expand our traditional notions of what a scene is and what it can do? We’ll consider such questions as we discuss exceptionally crafted scenes from short stories, novels, plays, and even film, TV, and podcasts, with an eye also on the differences in scene craft from genre to genre and what that can teach us specifically as fiction writers. Course assignments will include reading responses, writing exercises, short essays, and student presentations. 

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20232/40232 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Narrative Influence

T. S. Eliot once said that “good writers borrow, great writers steal.” In this class we will look at modeling as a springboard for original creativity. What makes a piece of writing original? Is it possible to borrow a famous writer’s story structure, theme, or even attempt their voice, yet produce something wholly original? How specifically are writers influenced and then inspired? Readings will pair writers with the influences they’ve talked or written about, such as Yiyun Li and Anton Chekhov; Edward P. Jones and Alice Walker; Sigrid Nunez and Elizabeth Hardwick, and George Saunders and Nikolai Gogol. Writing exercises will experiment with aspects of voice, narrative structure, point of view, tone, and use of dialog. While this is not a workshop course, come prepared to write and share work in class. Students will pursue both creative work and critical papers.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20236/40236 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Alternative Points of View

Point of view is one of our most powerful narrative tools, controlling voice, perspective, and level of access to every bit of information a reader receives. When writers are first finding their way into new fiction projects, however, it is easy to default to the two points of view we are most commonly exposed to: a traditional first person or third person that behaves predictably. In this Technical Seminar, we will mine the work of Julie Otsuka, Carmen Maria Machado, Robert Coover, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, and other writers for strategic usage of alternative points of view, including second person, first person plural, free indirect discourse, and deliberate shifts from one point of view into another. Assignments will include short critical and creative responses, a final fiction assignment, and a final presentation.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR CRWR 12163 Reading as a Writer: Obscenities

Crosslistings
PARR 33000

“Obscenity” is a term for what is repulsive, abhorrent, excessive, or taboo in a society; and yet many artworks once considered to be obscene are now celebrated as landmarks of world literature, from the ancient poetry of Sappho to modern novels like Ulysses. In this course, we will study literary works that have been banned or censored as “obscene” to examine our own perspectives, attitudes, and assumptions as literary artists. How does obscenity shape our understanding of gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, or public and private speech? What are the uses of obscenity in constructing new possibilities for literary expression? Authors studied will include Toni Morrison, Tanizaki Jun’ichirō, Vladimir Nabokov, Hilda Hilst, and Allen Ginsburg; and we will supplement these readings with works of literary theory, psychoanalysis, and case law. Students will produce their own original poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to reimagine what is permissible—and possible—in language and society for contemporary literary artists.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins; contact the instructor for a spot in the class or on the waiting list. Satisfies the College Arts Core requirement.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12164 Reading as a Writer: Good Translation

The past few years have seen a proliferation of major awards for works of contemporary world literature that have been translated into English (among them the International Booker Prize, the National Book Award for Translated Literature, and the National Book Critics Circle Book in Translation Prize). While such awards certainly elevate translation as a mode of writing comparable to that of other literary arts, they also raise important questions about the production, circulation, and reception of translated literature in the Anglosphere. In this course, we will read a number of recent award-winning books in English translation (both poetry and prose), considering how these books traveled from origin to translation, and how we as readers engage with them – as translations and as literary texts. How are translations made? How do we evaluate books that have two writers: author and translator? What larger forces (social, aesthetic, commercial, political) are at work when deciding which translated books will hold value for Anglophone readers? We’ll explore these questions through weekly readings and discussions, student presentations, critical analyses and creative responses. As a final project, students will develop their own evaluative rubrics from which to award a prize to one of the translations we’ve read.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12154 Reading as a Writer: Brevity

This course will consider brevity as an artistic mode curiously capable of articulating the unspeakable, the abyssal, the endless. Reading very brief works from a long list of writers, we will ask: when is less more? When is less less? What is minimalism? What is the impact of the fragment? Can a sentence be a narrative? Can a word comprise a poem? Our readings will include short poems, short essays, and short short stories by Yannis Ritsos, francine j. harris, Aram Saroyan, Richard Wright, Cecilia Vicuña, Kobayashi Issa, Renee Gladman, Robert Creeley, Alejandra Pizarnik, Lucille Clifton, Lydia Davis, Jamaica Kincaid, Yi Sang, Anne Carson, Franz Kafka, Prageeta Sharma, Venita Blackburn, Jorge Luis Borges, Samuel Beckett, and others. Students will be asked to lead one presentation and to write critical and creative responses for group discussion.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins; contact the instructor for a spot in the class or on the waiting list. Satisfies the College Arts Core requirement.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12138 Intro to Genres: Evil Incarnate

Some of the most compelling pieces of writing across all genres deal with, and often feature, the concept of Evil at their center. Whether they address it directly through a character, like Bulgakov’s Professor Woland in Master and Margarita, or as a concept in Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem. Whether the narratives are anchored in the concreteness of real crime, like in Capote’s In Cold Blood, and sometimes they revel in the abstraction of sin, as in Milton’s Paradise Lost, but always they dare to ask, “What and why is evil?” Why might character cower at the thought of that which awaits us in the dark, like in HP Lovecraft’s Dagon, and why might a real 19-year-old woman in Bute, Montana anticipate it with bated breath, like in Mary MacLane’s I Await the Devil’s Coming. This course is designed to explore this question alongside authors who devoted their lives to understanding the role of evil in literature and life, to contemplating its necessity, its appeal, its frivolity, and its betrayal. The course will be divided into three sections, each section devoted to a specific genre during which two to three texts will be explored, discussed, and analyzed in class, and at the end of which one analysis paper will be due, culminating in a final analytical and creative piece.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins; contact the instructor for a spot in the class or on the waiting list. Satisfies the College Arts Core requirement.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12141 Intro to Genres: Drawing on Graphic Novels

Crosslistings
MAAD 22141

Like film, comics are a language, and there's much to be learned from studying them, even if we have no intention of 'writing' them. Comics tell two or more stories simultaneously, one via image, the other via text, and these parallel stories can not only complement but also contradict one another, creating subtexts and effects that words alone can’t. Or can they? Our goal will be to draw, both literally and metaphorically, on the structures and techniques of the form. While it’s aimed at the aspiring graphic novelist (or graphic essayist, or poet), it’s equally appropriate for those of us who work strictly with words (or with images.) What comics techniques can any artist emulate, approximate, or otherwise aspire to, and how can these lead us to a deeper understanding of the possibilities of point of view, tone, structure and style? We’ll learn the basics of the medium via Ivan Brunetti’s book Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice, as well as Syllabus, by Lynda Barry. Readings include the scholar David Kunzle on the origins of the form, the first avant-garde of George Herriman, Frank King, and Lyonel Feininger, finishing with contemporaries like Chris Ware, Emil Ferris, and Alison Bechdel. Assignments include weekly creative and critical assignments, culminating in a final portfolio and paper.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins; contact the instructor for a spot in the class or on the waiting list. Satisfies the College Arts Core requirement.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 17007 Fundamentals in Creative Writing: The Grammar of Narrative

Storytelling goes nearly as far back as human consciousness, while the ways in which we tell stories has been expanding ever since. This class will look at several different forms of narrative—fiction, creative non-fiction, narrative poetry, and film—and explore the “grammar” of these different genres, what they share and where they differ and how their particular strengths influence the ways in which they most effectively communicate. How does film (a visual medium) tell a story differently than does fiction (which asks us to project our own imagined version of the story), differently than creative non-fiction, (which must always rely on facts), differently than poetry (which condenses the story to its essences)? How do these different genres and mediums influence the stories they tell and the effects they achieve? Readings will include primary texts as well as critical and fundamentals texts in each genre. Students will complete weekly reading responses, as well as creative exercises. A paper focusing on a specific element derived from the class will be due at the end of the course.

Prerequisites

This is class is restricted to students who have declared a major in Creative Writing or a minor in English and Creative Writing. Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Fundamentals

CRWR 17007 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. 

Prerequisites

Students must be a declared Creative Writing major or Minor in English and Creative Writing to enroll. Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Fundamentals

CRWR 10606/30606 Beginning Translation Workshop (1)

Crosslistings
CRWR 30606, GRMN 10606, GRMN 30606, SALC 10606, SALC 30706

Beginning Translation Workshop: It’s been said that in an ideal world, all writers would be translators, and all translators would be writers. In addition to the joy of enlarging the conversation of literature by bringing new voices into another language, the practice of literary translation forces us as writers to examine the materials and tools of our craft. In this workshop, we will critique each other’s translations of prose, poetry, or drama into English, as well as explore various creative strategies and approaches to translation by a variety of practitioners that touch on various aspects of the "radical recontextualization" that constitute the decision-making work of literary translation. Through these processes, you will formulate your own strategies to both literary translation and creative writing. We will also have the opportunity to have conversations via Zoom with some of the translators we’ll be reading. Students should have at least an intermediate proficiency in a foreign language to take this workshop.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. To participate in this class, students should have intermediate proficiency in a foreign language.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10306 Section 2/30306 Section 2 Beginning Poetry Workshop: Imaginary Music

The poet Aimé Césaire once wrote that “The only acceptable music comes from somewhere deeper than sound. The search for music is a crime against the music of poetry which can only be the beating of the mind’s wave against the rock of the world.” What is this music “deeper than sound”? How is it related to the more obvious “audible” sounds of poetry? This course invites students to experiment with both the audible and inaudible elements of poetry. We’ll practice traditional music-making devices, such as rhythm and rhyme, at the same time that we explore the musical movements of mind and the moods that lyricism makes available. The class will practice literary community building by discussing peers’ poems in workshops, by responding to poems and essays by contemporary and modern poets and critics, and by attending literary events on campus. For the first few sessions, our discussions will focus primarily on readings. As we move forward, we will spend the majority of time workshopping student work.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10306 Section 1/30306 Section 1 Beginning Poetry Workshop: Disproving the Pastoral

In Disproving the Pastoral, we’ll explore our own ties to rural landscapes as a means of interrogating and updating the pastoral tradition, just as we’ll investigate and write toward a more holistic landscape—one that integrates the literal and the political, the critical, and the sociocultural. Throughout the quarter, we will read, write, and discuss contemporary poems that are dedicated to the careful observation of—and commentary on—rural spaces. As we study works by Billy-Ray Belcourt, Nikky Finney, Joy Priest, Nikki Wallschlaeger, Matthew Wimberly, C.D. Wright and others, we will develop a keen eye for the multi- faceted utility of the landscape in our own work. We will learn through practice, writing drafts that engage with craft elements like imagery, form, rhythm, and voice. We will workshop these drafts as a class, building a collective vocabulary for creative and critical feedback. And, in the end, we will craft work that seeks to subvert the expected narratives of these far-off, rural places we take up as subjects.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10406 Section 1/30406 Section 1 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop: Writing the Ecotone

This course explores creative nonfiction that responds to the places where boundaries blur, culture encounters nature, the self meets the collective. Scottish writer Ali Smith once said, “The place where the natural world meets the arts is a fruitful, fertile place for both.” Robert Macfarlane suggests that we consider such places as an “ecotone” – a biological term for the liminal space between biomes “where two communities met and integrate.” Our exploration of writing about ecotones will take us outside of the classroom on tours, urban hikes, and neighborhood explorations that engage with Chicago's history, ecology, and architecture*. Writing creative nonfiction, we shall see, requires all of the sense; as we explore the city, students will the learn fundamentals of recording their observations and shaping them into story. Students will develop foundational creative nonfiction tenets, including scene-building, character development, point of view, voice, artful word choice, and structure. Inside the classroom, our workshop will foment a supportive, knowledgeable, and critical community in which to exchange and discuss original work. Course readings will include the work of Robin Wall Kimmerer, Elizabeth Kolbert, Brian Macfarlane and Lauret Savoy.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10406 Section 2/30406 Section 2 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop: Flash Essay

If you’ve ever been sucked inside a rabbit-hole of threaded replies to your own objectively perfect Tweet or winced under the pressure of a scribble in So-and-So’s yearbook, you’ll know the art of extreme brevity is not for everyone. The kaleidoscopic nature of the human mind resists compression. Like a reflex away from an odor, your sentences want to run. I’ll try to keep this brief: some stories can only carry so much, and well, our breath is short. Containment is a source of drama, so let’s study the art of concision together. Students in this workshop will churn out 750-word essays each week, exchanging feedback on what sticks, and revising toward distillation. We’ll spend most of class honing what Bernard Cooper has called “an alertness to detail, a quickening of the senses, a focusing of the literary lens... until one has magnified some small aspect of what it means to be human.”

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 3/30206 Section 3 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Understanding Narrative Points of View

Writers at all levels learn through the careful reading of works they admire. We will spend more than a third of our time in this class reading stories worth learning from, both classic and contemporary, by writers like James Baldwin, Sherman Alexie, and Jhumpa Lahiri. Discussion will be lively—passionate opinions and enthusiasm are welcome—but most of our focus will be on the choices that writers make, the nuts and bolts of craft, with special emphasis on point of view (who speaks and why?) while also covering tone, direct and summary dialog, setting, conflict, causality, and use of time. In-class exercises will further hone your understanding of specific techniques, fire your creativity and get you writing. In writing workshop, which will occupy a significant part of class most weeks, each of you will have the opportunity to present your work to the group. Critique will be respectful and productive, with emphasis on clarity and precision. By the end of the course, you will have generated significant raw material and completed at least one story, which will be revised and handed in as a final portfolio.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 5/30206 Section 5 Beginning Fiction Workshop: The Good Fight: Creating 3-D Characters in Conflict

In this workshop, students will develop skills necessary to writing fiction that moves and matters. We will focus on how to create three-dimensional characters, through narrative voice, well-calibrated plot, and conflict. Students will write a complete short story or one chapter of a longer work, creating not only a compelling narrative voice, but also characters who are complicated and whose motives are explored with empathy and depth. We will ask of student work and published work we read together: Why do characters behave the ways they do? What does each character in a story or novel want and what obstacles does she/he face? Where is the conflict and how is it approached? We will focus on the relationships of our characters to each other, to their creators, and to the worlds they inhabit. Dramatic tension will raise the stakes of our stories. Readings include Baldwin, Bechdel, Carson, O’Conner, Otsuka, Sharma, and Wharton.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10306 Section 1/30306 Section 1 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Scene

Scenes are often considered the building blocks of narrative story-telling. In this course, we’ll examine short fiction through the lens of scene, starting from the basics: What are scenes, how do they work, and what should they accomplish in a story? We’ll consider the scene’s relationship with context, tension, subtext, narrative arc, and other story elements. Together we’ll examine how authors like Bret Anthony Johnston, Rebecca Lee, and Jhumpa Lahiri use scenes to great effect, with a particular focus on setting, dialogue, action, and detail. In addition to readings, students will complete several short writing exercises and one longer story, which you will workshop and substantially revise. You will also engage with the work of your peers, delivering thoughtful, encouraging, constructive critiques.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10306 Section 2/30306 Section 2 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Metamorphoses

If one account of a story is that it is, at heart, a transformation, then what is—or could be—transformed? In this beginning fiction workshop, we will consider change as an engine of fiction and explore metamorphoses that take place at the level of plot, character, narrative voice, planes of reality, place, memory, identity, language, and form, as well as transformations that perhaps fail to take place. Readings may include the work of authors such as Ovid, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, Gabriel García Márquez, Jamaica Kincaid, Haruki Murakami, Steven Millhauser, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Jamil Jan Kochai, Alice Munro, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kali Fajardo-Anstine, and Jamel Brinkley, among others. In creative exercises, we will experiment with transformations in our own fiction. Over the course of the quarter, students will collect and revise these experiments into a portfolio and transform one experiment into a complete short story, which we will workshop in class.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 4/30206 Section 4 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Contemporary Practice

This beginning fiction workshop approaches long-standing issues of craft through engagement with stories that have been published by emerging writers in the last several years. We will find classic narrative techniques (like scenic method, plot reversal, and closure) operating in newly published work, but we’ll also look for promising experiments, novelties of form, and blurred boundaries. Authors read may include Vanessa Onwuemezi, Bora Chung, or Isabel Waidner. After several weeks devoted to reading and the trial of basic techniques, students will compose stories to be workshopped in class. A spirit of discovery and experiment will be encouraged.

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 23135/43135 Advanced Poetry Workshop: Weird Science

This class invites students to explore various relationships between science and poetry, two domains that, perhaps counter-intuitively, often draw from each other to revitalize themselves. As poets, we’ll use, misuse, and borrow from science in our poems. We’ll approach poems like science experiments and aim to enter an “experimental attitude.” From a practical point of view, we’ll try to write poems that incorporate the language of science to freshen their own language or to expand the realm of poetic diction. Furthermore, we’ll work with tropes and procedural experiments that may result in revelation, discovery, and surprise. Readings may include work by Aimé Césaire, Kimiko Hahn, Ed Roberson, Dean Young, Joyelle Mcsweeney, and Will Alexander. Students can expect to write several poems, participate in discussion forums with both initial response papers and follow-up comments, critique peers’ work, and submit a final portfolio. A substantial amount of class time will be spent workshopping student work.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 23135/43135 Advanced Poetry Workshop: Ekphrastic Poetry

In this generative advanced poetry workshop we will find inspiration for our own poetry by engaging with the visual arts. We will read poems that respond to, reflect, and refract the arts, and exercises will be based on our own encounters in museums, at the movies, in the realms of fashion, architecture, landscape, and elsewhere. We will ask ourselves about artifice and making, the materiality of the written word, the relationship between observation and expression, the emotive qualities of the image, and the sonic qualities of words. Most of our course reading will be contemporary poetry, but we will also explore a range of exciting earlier examples. Each class meeting will include workshops of student poems, discussions of assigned literature, and conversations about art practice and art community. In addition to reading deeply, looking closely, and writing wildly, students are expected to be lively participants in the arts community on campus, and will attend exhibitions, concerts, readings, screenings, and other events and experiences that bring us into contact with various modes of expression. Texts may include poems by, Harryette Mullen, James Schuyler, Brenda Shaughnessy, David Trinidad, and Virgil.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

Robyn Schiff
2023-2024 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24030/44030 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Writing the Narrative Nonfiction Feature

Apart from it being nonfiction, a nonfiction feature is like a short story—in terms of length and scenes and characters and all the potential innovations of storytelling. In this writing workshop, students will go through each stage of composing a narrative nonfiction feature story. After generating a few ideas that seem original, surprising in their approach, and appropriate in scope, we will write pitches. After the class agrees to “assign” one of these features, each student will report, research and write a draft. The features will be workshopped in class, and students will go through an editorial process, polishing their stories and experimenting with style and form for a final assignment. Along the way, we will consider the mechanics, ethics and craft of this work as we read published nonfiction and talk to writers and reporters about their process. There will be an emphasis in the class on Chicago writers and their beats; in weekly writing assignments, students will also report on local stories.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24002/44002 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Writing about the Arts

Crosslistings
ARTH 24002, ARTH 34002

Thinking about practices is a way of focusing a conversation between creative writers, art historians, curators, and working visual artists, all of whom are encouraged to join this workshop. We ourselves will be practicing and studying a wide variety of approaches to visual art. We’ll read critics like John Yau and Lori Waxman, memoirists like Aisha Sabbatini Sloan, inventive historians like Zbigniew Herbert, and poets like Gwendolyn Brooks and Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, as well as curatorial and museum writings, catalogue essays, artists' statements, and other experimental and practical forms.


The course hopes to support students both in developing useful practices and experimenting boldly. Classes will be shaped around current exhibitions and installations. Sessions will generally begin with student-led observation at the Smart Museum, and we will spend one session on close looking in the study room at the Smart. Students will also visit five collections, exhibitions and/or galleries and, importantly, keep a looking notebook. Students will write a number of exercises in different forms (immersive meditation, researched portrait, mosaic fragment), and will also write and revise a longer essay (on any subject and in any mode) to be workshopped in class.

 

Prerequisites

Instructor consent required. Email the instructor to submit a writing sample and/or to be added to the waitlist. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24026/44026 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Feminist Biography

Crosslistings
GNSE 24026, GNSE 44026

The personal is political – that slogan of Women’s Liberation – has long been understood, among other things, as a call for new forms of storytelling. One of those forms, feminist biography, has flourished in publishing since the 1970s, and it continues to evolve today, even as the terms of feminism and of biography are continually re-negotiated by writers and critics. 

In this workshop, we read some of those writers and critics. And we read illustrative examples of contemporary feminist biography (and anti-biography) in various nonfiction genres, including magazine profile, trade book, Wiki article, audio performance, personal essay, cult pamphlet, avant-garde art piece. Mostly, we try out the form for ourselves, in our own writing. Each workshop writer will choose a biographical subject (single, collective, or otherwise), and work up a series of sketches around that subject. By the end of the quarter, workshop writers will build these sketches into a single piece of longform life-writing. The workshop will focus equally on story-craft and method (e.g. interview and research techniques, cultivating sources); indeed we consider the ways that method and story are inevitably connected. This workshop might also include a week with an invited guest, a practicing critic or biographer. 

 

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22133/42133 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Writing the Uncanny

Sigmund Freud defines "the uncanny" ("unheimlich") as something that unnerves us because it is both familiar and alien at the same time, the result of hidden anxieties and desires coming to the surface. In this advanced fiction workshop, we will explore how fiction writers use the uncanny to create suspense, lend their characters psychological depth, thrill and terrify their readers, and lay bare the darkest and most difficult human impulses. We will read and discuss fiction by writers like Shirley Jackson, Jamaica Kincaid, Octavia Butler, Kelly Link, Ben Okri, Haruki Murakami, and Victor Lavalle, drawing craft lessons from these writers to guide our own attempts at writing the uncanny. Much of our class time will be dedicated to evaluating student work and honing our skills of composition and critique. In addition to shorter writing exercises and "mini-workshops" throughout the quarter, every student will complete a full- length "uncanny" short story for workshop and compose critique letters for each of their peers. Students will be required to significantly revise their full-length short story by the end of the quarter.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22157/42157 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Tiny Chapters

In this advanced fiction workshop, students will have the opportunity to assemble a long narrative out of short fragments. Composing with small units reframes the art of narrative. We’ll study the diverse affordances of working with fragments—collage, aporia, essayistic interpolation—always keeping an eye on the totality of our narratives. We’ll discuss the art of brevity—including related forms like the aphorism, the note, and the joke. We’ll begin in experiment and end with substantial compositions. Our readings will be drawn from the numerous contemporary novelists who use this method (Jenny Offill, Olga Ravn, Dorthe Nors) as well as the older generation of authors who, in their different ways, may be said to have pioneered the form (Marguerite Duras, Gwendolyn Brooks, William Gass, Renata Adler). But most of our class time will be devoted to workshopping original student work.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

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 student 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 and will be asked to write critiques of all peer work.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22158/42158 Advanced Fiction Workshop: From the Ground Up

In a craft talk, writer Stephen Dobyns once described an exercise he used for generating stories inspired by Raymond Carver, who said about his process, "I write the first sentence, and then I write the next sentence and then the next." Apparently, Dobyns was frustrated by that answer, but later challenged himself to write 50 first sentences of potential stories. Then, he picked half of them and wrote 25 first paragraphs. From those, he eventually completed about a half dozen stories. (I learned this from an article by the great short story writer Kelly Link.) In this generative workshop, we will proceed in this fashion. During the first week, we’ll study the first sentences of stories and each write our own 50 first sentences. During the second week, we’ll study the first paragraphs of stories and each write 25 first paragraphs, and so on until all students have a few complete drafts of stories, one of which will be submitted to our in-class workshop. Along the way, we’ll read and discuss well-made stories by writers such as Kelly Link, Denis Johnson, Joy Williams, Edward P. Jones, Justin Torres, Mary Gaitskill, and many others. To be successful, students will read and write actively and share their well-informed opinions with enthusiasm, especially in our workshop discussions.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22159/42159 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Family Life, Family Strife

If, as the opening lines of Anna Karenina suggests, it is true that “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” then the unique character of family is largely determined by its distinct manner and type of conflict. In this advanced fiction workshop, we’ll examine fiction about family friction with an eye for observing the strategies that authors have used to construct dramas that revolve around how families love, cope, or crumple in the midst of crisis. As we identify tropes of family dysfunction, we’ll also consider the ways authors use narrative devices like point-of-view, setting, plot, and scene to investigate how we define family (and how those definitions have evolved); its bonds and intergenerational inheritances; how families—like institutions— are bonded by their distinctive habits, manners, mores, and laws; and how kinship might magnify, subvert, or critique larger society. Above all, we’ll debate what family life and family strife teach us about storytelling. Over the course of the term, we will write and workshop your own fiction inspired by model texts.

Prerequisites

Students must have taken both Fundamentals in Creative Writing and a Beginning Workshop in the same genre. 

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Contact the instructor for a spot on the waiting list. Course requires consent after add/drop begins.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops