Course Catalog

Note: Page last updated on August 5, 2020. All Creative Writing courses for Autumn 2020 will be taught remotely. Due to the changes in Autumn 2020 canonical hours, courses on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are scheduled for 2 hours, while courses on Tuesday and Thursday are scheduled for 3 hours (in most cases). However, please note that instructors will offer a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching such that the total amount of class time per week will be between 2-3 hours. 

The course application form for Autumn 2020 is now live. Applications are due September 9, at 5:00pm.


All Arts Core courses and Beginning Workshops are open bid through my.uchicago.edu. If you are unable to secure a spot through bidding, please contact the instructor to be placed on the waitlist. Admission into Advanced WorkshopsTechnical Seminars and Fundamentals in Creative Writing require instructor consent via our submission form. 

All students can take Creative Writing classes, but students who are majoring in Creative Writing, completing a minor in Creative Writing, or completing the Creative Writing Option for MAPH receive priority in consent-based CRWR courses.

 

CRWR 20307/40307 Technical Seminar in Poetry: Line, Stanza, Syntax, Form

From the fragmented to the recurrent, from the recurrent to the intricate, from the precise to the vernacular, from the vernacular to the artificial; we'll discuss the why, the how, and the effects of a few of the possible forms and devices of poetry.

Day/Time: Wednesday, 12:40–2:40 PM

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20406/40406 Technical Seminar in Nonfiction: Autopsy of a Scene

Few things are as effective in capturing the attention of a reader than well crafted scenes. The creation of the illusion of movement, time and the sensory experience is by no means an easy task, however, and it must take into consideration pacing, punctuation, spatial references and white space among a vicissitude of other elements. In addition, there is the added difficulty of the nonfiction scene, the role of research, the limitations of first-person accounts and the distortion of memory. This course is intended to address these questions through a series of readings, lectures and writing prompts designed to dissect the matter at hand and equip the writer with the necessary tools to build a well-paced and effective scene.

Day/Time: Thursday, 2:40-5:40

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20213/40213 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Writing Autobiographically

Many if not most writers draw on their own lives. Transforming the raw stuff of experience, personal and/or family history, and intimate expertise is not, of course, as straightforward as it might seem. Does writing autobiographically necessarily equal "confession"? Or are there other ways of writing the self? Where exactly is the line between personal essay/memoir and autobiographical fiction? What pact do we form with the reader when the material is explicitly close to our own lives? What pact do we have with ourselves and the real people we write about? Readings will include works by Sylvia Plath, Leslie Feinberg, Kathryn Harrison, Akhil Sharma, Michael Cunningham, Ralph Ellison, and St. Augustine. Critical responses and creative exercises alike will help you understand the nuances, challenges, and pleasures of writing autobiographically.

Day/Time: Wednesday, 12:40–2:40 PM

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20218/40218 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Third-Person Narration

Third-person narration is a crucial tool in the writer's toolbox, handy--and in some cases practically crucial--for a variety of tasks. Yet its use and various possibilities can seem intimidating to some writers who may be far more comfortable with the "I". In this seminar, we'll examine third-person point-of-view, seeking to understand its uses more fully. We'll learn about free indirect discourse, psychic distance, artifice, tone, and omniscience. We'll carefully dissect a variety of texts, including excerpts or stories from Jonathan Dee, James Agee, Jennifer Egan, Danielle Evans, Ottessa Moshfegh, and others. Students will be responsible for reading responses, short craft analyses, vigorous class participation, and several creative exercises putting what they learn into practice.

Day/Time: Thursdays, 9:40-11:00 am (synchronous)

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 12129 Reading as a Writer: Questions of Travel

Travel narratives remain a perennial tool for looking outward and understanding places and cultures unlike our own. We'll look at both historical and contemporary accounts of time abroad and explore how technological advances in communication and increasingly cheap and easy travel may be changing this most enduring of forms. Travel writing has often gone hand in hand with imperial and neo-imperial projects, but more and more the global "south" visits the global "north." We'll read poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by writers like Graham Greene, Elizabeth Bishop, George Orwell, Tayeb Salih, George Saunders, James Baldwin, and Natalia Ginzburg. We'll also consider journalistic accounts by Ted Conover, Katherine Boo, and Evan Osnos, as well as documentary films by Ai Weiwei and Joshua Oppenheimer. Students will write short responses over the quarter and synthesize our texts, along with a text of their choosing, into a culminating critical paper.  

Day/Time: Tuesday, 1–4 PM

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.

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Arts Core Courses

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 reading 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? Case studies may include poetry and prose by Bashō, Sei Shōnagon, Homer, John Keats, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Jean Toomer, D. H. Lawrence, Lorine Niedecker, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Baldwin, Sylvia Plath, Ai, Elaine Scarry, Wanda Coleman, Toni Morrison, Hai-Dang Phan, Nathaniel Mackey, Durga Chew-Bose, Justin Torres, and Jenny Zhang. These writers will provide inspiration for your own creative experiments on the page. Students will be asked to lead one presentation during the quarter and to write short weekly pieces to extend the group discussion.

 

Day/Time: Thursday, 2:40–5:40 PM

Prerequisites

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

Margaret Ross
2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12133 Intro to Genres: Writing & Social Change

In this course, we will explore the embattled, yet perpetually alive relationship between writing and activism by reading canonical and emergent works of fiction, narrative prose, and poetry that not only represent social ills, but seek to address and even to spur social justice in some way. Students will be encouraged to choose an issue that they feel passionate about on which to research and respond for the entire quarter—and will be asked to produce works in a range of genres in relation to that issue. Authors discussed may include Percy Bysshe Shelley, who called poets the "unacknowledged legislators of the world," John Ruskin, William Morris, Virginia Woolf, James Agee and Walker Evans, Antonio Gramsci, James Baldwin, Amelia Rosselli, Rachel Carson, Gwendolyn Brooks, Nanni Balestrini, Rebecca Solnit, Claudia Rankine, Mark Nowak, Layli Long Soldier, John Keene, Anne Boyer, and Craig Santos Perez.

Day/Time: Wednesday, 11:20–2:20 PM

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Satisfies the College Arts/Music/Drama Core requirement.

Course also offered in Winter 2020. 

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12144 Intro to Genres: Elegy

How does language perform and represent mourning? How should writing commemorate the dead? Can an elegy address the full complexity of a person, resisting hagiography? We’ll begin our investigation of elegy by looking briefly at its Classical origins, reading examples by Catullus, Sappho, and Ovid, among others, and considering the early life of elegy as a poetic form not necessarily related to death and lament. We’ll then turn our attention toward a range of modern and contemporary interpretations of the elegy, spanning fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Readings may include works by Virginia Woolf, Paul Celan, Jamaica Kincaid, Raúl Zurita, Samuel Delany, Federico García Lorca, Allen Ginsberg, Brandon Shimoda, Alice Oswald, Isaac Babel, and Solmaz Sharif. As we read, we’ll pay particular attention to literary structures and devices writers use to manifest absence and incarnate the dead in the body of a text. Students will be asked to lead one presentation and to write weekly creative and/or critical responses for group discussion.

 

Day/Time: Friday, 1:50-3:50 PM

Prerequisites

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

Margaret Ross
2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12117 Intro to Genres: Division and Western

This course explores literary responses to Chicago's boundaries and sites of contention through fiction, drama, poetry, and literary journalism. We'll examine work by writers and artists including Saul Bellow, Lorraine Hansberry, Nate Marshall, Bruce Norris, and Studs Terkel. How does one map the city's conflicts along zoning ordinances, street corners, playgrounds, and rumors? What histories undergird the city's racelines? In exploring these aspects of the city, where does a writer draw the boundary between fiction and nonfiction, between verse and prose? Engaging these larger questions, participants will develop their own individual and collaborative creative responses to "the city in a garden."

Day/Time: Tuesdays, 2:40-4:00pm

Prerequisites

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

Course requires consent after add/drop begins; contact the instructor for a spot in the class or on the waiting list.

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 17000 Fundamentals in Creative Writing: Literary Empathy

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

Day/Time: Wednesday, 1:50–3:50 PM

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Fundamentals

CRWR 10306/30306 Beginning Poetry Workshop

This workshop focuses on writing and revising poems, and the related art of giving helpful feedback to other writers. One of the course’s goals is to help you reflect on your writing as a process. Most weeks you will write drafts that focus on the poetic concepts we are studying. At the end of the quarter you’ll revise your drafts and collect them in a portfolio, accompanied by a critical introduction that you’ll write. As a class, we’ll form a community of readers and writers that will support you in this process. You’ll receive feedback on your drafts from your classmates, and will respond both critically and creatively to theirs. Commenting regularly on the work of other writers will make you a better editor of your own work. At the same time, this course will introduce you to poetry from a variety of time periods, languages, and approaches to content and structure. You’ll learn to apply critical tools and terminology by drafting poems that experiment with elements such as form, voice, rhythm, imagery, translation, and creative response. We’ll discuss not only how poems are written, but also why they are written and what relationship they have to the worlds in which they are read.

Day/Time: Friday, 10:20-12:20

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.

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10306/30306 Beginning Poetry Workshop

This course addresses a range of techniques for writing poetry, making use of various compelling models drawn primarily from international modernisms on which to base our own writing. (Our textbook is Poems for the Millennium, edited by Rothenberg & Joris.) In this sense, the course will constitute an apprenticeship to modern poetry. We will consider the breadth of approaches currently available to poets, as well as the value of reading as a means of developing an understanding of how to write poetry. Each week students will bring poems for discussion, developing a portfolio of revised work by the quarter’s end.

Day/Time: Tuesday, 1:00-4:00

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.

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10406/30406 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop: Writing Place

What do we create in creative nonfiction? In this introductory workshop, we will explore the imaginative possibilities of the genre with a focus on bringing place to life. We will begin by asking: what meets the essayist’s eye?  How do we tell the stories of a particular world that are difficult to see? We will define place richly, as landscape, geography, locale, yes; but also as memory, people, language, carapace, and ecosystem. To wit, place is context. Place is an invitation, in the tradition of creative nonfiction, to weave from facts a story yet to be told. 

In this class, you will learn to render landscape as a character and ecological disruption as a human narrative. You will practice translating technical lingo into the voice of your piece. We will unsettle our ideas of culture/nature divide. Throughout the course of the quarter, we will engage enthusiastically with one another’s work, developing a vocabulary for a critical perspective that recognizes the aim and potential of each piece. You will leave this course with a strong grasp of the tenets of voice, language, and form, and a more nuanced understanding of creative nonfiction as a whole. Readings will include: Linda Hogan; J Drew Lanham; Helen McDonald; Ocean Vuong.

Day/Time: Mondays, 3:00-5:00 pm

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.

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10406/30406 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop: The Personal Essay

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, 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 in Adrienne Rich, then look at infusions of poetry into the form via Natalia Ginzburg, Margaret Atwood, and Anne Carson. 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.

Day/Time: Tuesday, 9:40-12:40

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.

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206/30206 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Character and Characterization

In the introductory level workshop class we’ll interrogate what makes a compelling, memorable character and how to build one. We will read short stories and novel excerpts by a variety of authors with an eye to examining how characters reveal themselves to us as readers and what tools writers use to employ these revelations. Students will be required to write targeted reading responses, creative exercises, and one short story or novel chapter to be workshopped by the entire class, along with a revision of that story or chapter to be turned in at the end of the quarter.

Day/Time: Wednesday, 10:20-12:20

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.

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206/30206 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 like woodworking, or gardening. It’s like raising a half-formed, misbehaved child and then trying to reason with it. 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.

Day/Time: Monday, 10:20-12:20

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.

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206/30206 Beginning Fiction Workshop

This course aims to deepen your understanding of the craft of short fiction through intensive study of contemporary writers and through workshops of both your own work and that of your classmates. Together we will examine stories by Mary Gaitskill, Kevin Brockmeier, Charles Yu, and others, reading as writers, searching not for theme but for a sense of how the stories were created, what craft choices the authors made, and what their structures can teach us as we create our own narratives. In addition to these readings, you 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.

Day/Times: Mondays, 11:30-1:30 pm

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.

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 23130/43130 Advanced Poetry Workshop: Intertext

Might there be a kind of poem that is a parasite latched on to a host body? 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 these intertextual relationships (e.g. quoting, 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 texts. Expect to read a substantial amount of work by modern and contemporary poets, submit new original poems for workshop, complete intertextual writing exercises, keep a reading journal, write critical responses to the readings and peers’ work, and submit a final portfolio. A substantial amount of class time will be spent workshopping student work.

Day/Time: Mondays, 10:20-12:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24004/44004 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Writing in Crisis

In the radically different environment we anticipate for this fall, this course will work creatively to build individual writing projects and collaborative ones. Students will keep observation notebooks and we’ll develop an ongoing class publication online with reports from all the locations students are residing in (this might be a room, a neighborhood, a landscape, a city, or other kinds of places). The course will consider creative research methods in constrained times, with special attention to walking and other local kinds of investigation. We'll discuss observation, interviewing, historical research, keeping a notebook, supportive editorial relationships, and working from photography, video, and the internet. Some thematic clusters and possible reading: walking, local, and photographic investigation (Rebecca Solnit, Francisco Cantú, Teju Cole, Hervé Guibert); reckoning with history, ideas of reparations (Claudia Rankine, Layli Long Soldier, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Tommy Orange, Nikole Hannah-Jones) migration, testimony, interview, and borders (Valeria Luiselli, Liu Xiaobo, Edwidge Danticat), climate crisis and slow emergency (Winona LaDuke, Elizabeth Rush), notebook practices (H.D. Thoreau, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Walter Benjamin). Students will write in an ongoing way for our shared publication, produce essays to be workshopped in class, and develop writing, researching, and editorial skills.

Day/Time: Wednesday, 10:20 AM-12:20 PM

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24016/44016 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Other People's Stories

Between the autopsical facts of science writing and the adaptations, novelizations and base-on-true-story stories, lies a very specific type of writing. The creative nonfiction exploration of the recounted lives of others. From Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago,” to Brian Doyle’s “Thirsty for the Joy,” from John Hershey’s “Hiroshima” and Art Spiegelman’s “Mouse” to Rebecca Skloot’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” the world of nonfiction writing is rife with second, third, and fourth hand stories in which the essayist must learn to negotiate the researched history of people and places, with the imagined mind of these people moving across equally imaginary spaces. How do we believably and respectfully tell others’ stories? How do we learn to find them? How do we draw these stories out, jot them down? How do we know when to make them our own and when to leave them in the liminal space of another’s inaccessible and inimitable experience? Where is the line between imaginative nonfiction and imaginary tales? This course is designed to tackled these specific questions through workshops of student work, writing prompts and guided discussions of assigned texts that attempt to unravel this very matter through numerous and varied approaches.

Day/Time: Friday, 10:20-12:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22138/44138 Advanced Fiction Workshop: The Short Story Collection

In this course, we will not only explore how stories function individually, but also how they can come together in a collection to form a coherent and unified story or experience. Please come prepared to read and discuss published story collections, focusing in particular on the formal and thematic ties of discrete narratives. With this in mind, we will also workshop two to three of your own short stories. By the end of the course, you will have written the first three stories of your collection and developed a plan for how to proceed with the project.

Day/Time: Tuesday, 9:40-12:40

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 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.

Day/Time: Thursdays, 2:40-5:40pm

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22139/44139 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Home

Where’s your home? Why is that home? The great Toni Morrison writes, “Home is memory and companions and/or friends who share the same memory.“ In this advanced fiction workshop, we will write and read work that explores aspects of home: landscape, people, language, history, customs, memories, etc. The first few weeks we will read and discuss exemplary short stories and novel excerpts from writers including Edward P. Jones, Flannery O’Connor, Junot Diaz, and Jesmyn Ward. In later weeks, each workshop member will write and submit one full-length story or stand-alone chapter for workshop and either a second story or stand-alone chapter or significant revision of the first story. While each submission will receive holistic feedback, we will also pay particular attention to the aspects of home explored in each submission. Furthermore, will also work to deepen the skills necessary to revise your work and to critique the work of others. The course will include writing exercises to assist in exploring a range of strategies, impulses, and ideas.

Day/Time: Tuesday, 2:40-5:40

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22117/42117 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Beginning a Novel

This workshop-based course is for any student who is interested in or already working on a novel. In the first few weeks of the course, we will read and discuss a selection of first chapters from some exemplary and diverse novels (like The Great Gatsby, Invisible Man, Beloved, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, The Age of Innocence, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, The Virgin Suicides) and discuss what a first chapter can—even should—do and the different ways that it can do these things. How do certain novels introduce its characters, its plot, its setting, its principle concerns and philosophies? How do they dive into the narrative in ways that intrigue or even challenge us? How do certain opening chapters teach us how to read the rest of the novel? These and other crucial questions will be addressed throughout the course, particularly during our workshops, where everyone will present the first chapter or two of their novel-in-progress. Along with the fundamentals of craft like language, characterization, plotting, and structure, etc., we will look at how we can adjust or rethink our opening chapters so that we can move forward more effectively with the larger project.

Day/Time: Tuesdays, 2:40-5:40

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 29300/49300 Thesis/Major Projects in Poetry (8)

This course is an advanced seminar intended primarily for students writing a Creative BA or MA thesis, as well as Creative Writing Minors completing the portfolio. Because it is a thesis seminar, the course will focus on various ways of organizing larger poetic “projects.” We will consider the poetic sequence, the chapbook, and the poetry collection as ways of extending the practice of poetry beyond the individual lyric text. We will also problematize the notion of broad poetic “projects,” considering the consequences of imposing a predetermined conceptual framework on the elusive, spontaneous, and subversive act of lyric writing. Because this class is designed as a poetry workshop, your fellow students’ work will be the primary text over the course of the quarter.

Day/Time: Thursdays, 1:30-4:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 29300/49300 Thesis/Major Projects in Poetry (7)

This course is an advanced seminar intended primarily for students writing a Creative BA or MA thesis, as well as Creative Writing Minors completing the portfolio. Because it is a thesis seminar, the course will focus on various ways of organizing larger poetic “projects.” We will consider the poetic sequence, the chapbook, and the poetry collection as ways of extending the practice of poetry beyond the individual lyric text. We will also problematize the notion of broad poetic “projects,” considering the consequences of imposing a predetermined conceptual framework on the elusive, spontaneous, and subversive act of lyric writing. Because this class is designed as a poetry workshop, your fellow students’ work will be the primary text over the course of the quarter.

Day/Time: Wednesdays, 1:30-4:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 29400/49400 Thesis/Major Projects in Nonfiction (9)

This class is required for nonfiction majors, minors, and MAPH concentrators, but it's open to anyone working on a project of 20-30 pages. The class itself is almost entirely workshop, meaning that you and your classmates will provide the vast majority of material we discuss in class. You’ll spend as much time editing other people’s writing as you will working on your own. I emphasize editing because writing is essentially rewriting, and editing the work of others is the best way to acquire the objectivity and skill you need to edit your own. By teaching others you’ll teach yourself, preparing you for the real life of the writer outside the academy. That’s why your first assignment will be to create your own syllabus: a self-directed program of outside reading, with smart, succinct reasons for each choice. Ultimately, all writers are self-taught, and this class is a big step in that direction.

Day/Time: Fridays, 9:30-12:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 29400/49400 Thesis/Major Projects in Nonfiction (10)

This course is for students writing a creative BA or MA thesis in nonfiction, as well as Creative Writing Minors completing the portfolio. If space allows I'll also admit those who are working on a long piece of nonfiction on their own. It can be an extended essay, memoir, travelogue, literary journalism, or an interrelated collection thereof. It's a workshop, so come to the first day of class with your work underway and ready to submit. You'll edit your classmates' writing as diligently as you edit your own. I focus on editing because writing is, in essence, rewriting. Only by learning to edit other people's work will you gradually acquire the objectivity you need to skillfully edit your own. You'll profit not only from the advice you receive, but from the advice you learn to give. I will teach you to teach each other and thus yourselves, preparing you for the real life of the writer outside the academy.

Day/Time: Mondays, 1:30-4:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

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

This fiction workshop is for Creative Writing majors, minors, and MAPH students and other advanced students working on a substantial fiction project. It will be primarily a workshop class and all students are expected to enter this course with a story collection, a novel, or a novella already in progress, ready to be submitted and critiqued. The class will stress narrative arc and different kinds of conflict, though we will also discuss such fundamentals as POV and narrative distance, voice, character development, structure, setting, and dialogue as needed, in order to best shape a given work toward the writer’s own vision of that work. Keep in mind that writers don’t work in a vacuum—we should have a strong sense of how our own work fits in with the work of other writers. Each student will also be expected to make several short presentations. 

Day/Time: Wednesdays, 10:30-1:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

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

This advanced fiction course is for Creative Writing majors, minors, and MAPH students and other advanced students working on a substantial fiction project. Most of our class time will be spent in workshop, and all students should enter this course with work already in progress, whether stories, a novel, a novella, or a visual narrative (eg. graphic novel, narrative video game) and ready to present for critique. Our focus will be on identifying emerging themes, and refining voice, character, plot, language and details to accentuate and elaborate upon those themes. In addition to a smattering of craft essays and contemporary fiction pieces chosen by the instructor, students will select and present on readings that have been influential in their own writing process. 

Day/Time: Tuesdays, 9:30-12:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

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

This advanced fiction workshop is for Creative Writing majors, minors, and MAPH students and other advanced students working on a substantial fiction project or portfolio. As it is primarily a workshop, please arrive with your project in progress (a story collection, a novel, or a novella), ready for critique. In the workshop, we will stress craft fundamentals such as character, setting, voice, style, plot, and structure, considering the longer form. Reading and listening to author interviews, we will also consider what it means to be an artist and how artists come to cultivate an aesthetic sensibility.

Day/Time: Thursdays, 9:30-12:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

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

This advanced fiction course is for BA and MA students writing a creative thesis or any advanced student working on a major fiction project. 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.

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

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

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

This advanced fiction workshop is for Creative Writing majors, minors, and MAPH students and other advanced students working on a substantial fiction project. It is primarily a workshop, so please come to our first class with your project in progress (a story collection, a novel, or a novella), ready for you to discuss and to submit some part of for critique. As in any writing workshop, we will stress the fundamentals of craft like language, voice, and plot and character development, with an eye also on how to shape your work for the longer form you have chosen. And as a supplement to our workshops, we will have brief student presentations on the writing life: our literary influences, potential avenues towards publication, etc.

Day/Time: Thursday, 2:00-4:50

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 20308/40308 Technical Seminar in Poetry: Serious Goofballs, or Humor in Poetry

Poetry writing is often undertaken with solemnity, but perhaps we’ve been approaching it all wrong. What if we read Prufrock as stand-up comedy? Dickinson as a dark humorist?  Stein as a prankster? Along with rethinking the daring but subtle humor of a few classic poets, this course will trace specific kinds of comedic moves in contemporary poetry. We’ll try to understand the maneuvers that make for varieties of humor, such as absurdity, irony, satire, parody, ridicule, and dark humor. Readings may include work by John Ashbery, Sylvia Plath, Russel Edson, Bernadette Mayer, Dorthea Lasky, James Tate, Dean Young, Mary Ruefle, Wendy Xu, Anne Carson, and Kenneth Koch. Students should expect to complete a series of writing exercises, give a presentation, and write a final essay. All while smiling.

Day/Time: Monday, 12:30-3:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20407/40407 Technical Seminar in Nonfiction: Characters and Your Character

The art of nonfiction is sometimes described as the art of leaving things out, and nowhere is this more pronounced and problematic than in capturing character. The way you characterize people, places, and things ultimately says as much about you, the author, as it does about what you’re characterizing, and the goal of this class is to teach you to do so economically yet accurately, or at least fairly. Not reductively. We’ll start with the surface: with the eccentricities, tics, and quirks that make someone who they are, or appear to be. How to capture these oddities without sliding into caricature? Writers often default to physical description, but we’ll devote as much or more effort to the verbal, i.e., to exercises in dialogue, whose true power is not to convey information but character. We’ll also practice writing in body language, which is equally revealing of mien, demeanor, and underlying motivation. Beneath it all lies what we call ‘true character’: the values, morals, and ideals evident in deeds, facts, and what we might call properties, the essential characteristics of a culture, city, or place. Our weekly reading and writing assignments and exercises will culminate in a creative portfolio and a final essay, as well as the skills you’ll need to take workshops.

Day/Time: Tuesday, 9:30-12:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20215/40215 Technical Seminar in Fiction: The Mechanics and Aesthetics of Plot

What is plot—beyond the dramatic events that take place in a work of fiction? Why is it important—beyond engaging us in what happens to a story’s characters? Can plot be just as consequential to character-driven, aesthetic-driven, or idea-driven fiction as it is to fiction that privileges incident and action? And what exactly do we mean when we label stories in this fashion? This technical seminar will examine these questions and the many others that concern this crucial but often underrated element of craft. We will begin with the basic mechanics of plot and work towards a deeper understanding of all its effects on a narrative, whether they be dramatic, formal, characterological, even philosophical. Most importantly, we will try to apply these lessons to our own work, no matter the label we assign to our narrative and aesthetic interests. The course will include writing exercises, weekly reading responses, presentations, and a final essay.

Day/Time: Tuesday, 2:00-4:50

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Technical Seminars

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

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

Day/Time: Thursday, 9:30-12:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 12140 Reading as a Writer: Writing War

In the aftermath of war, we attempt to make sense of the senseless. We grapple with the pieces, we organize, we mold, and we give shape to the shapeless. In this course, using the Nigeria-Biafra War as a case study, we’ll investigate the practices that constitute authorship of war. We’ll read works by writers of the war generation, like Ken Saro-wiwa, as well as those who have inherited it, like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. We’ll identify and study their methods for reconstructing the past—lived experiences, research, and the imagination. We’ll consider the ethics of leaps of the imagination as we read works of realism alongside the speculative, like Nnedi Okorafor’s AfricanFuturist comic book take LaGuardia. We’ll study narratives like Chinelo Okparanta’s queer coming-of-age story Under the Udala Trees to consider what it means to depart from the national narrative in order to recover silenced or erased voices. In critical papers, we’ll analyze how genre, form, and media inform these works. Using the questions, techniques, and practices we identify, you’ll be asked to write and research narratives using a real war as its basis.

Day/Time: Tuesday, 9:30-12:20

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.

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12109 Intro to Genres: Wizards

Do you believe in wizards? Are you a wizard? Then pack up your talismans, fetishes, and gamelans into the mysterious little satchel you carry at your side and get ready for some incantatory magic. We will investigate the figure of the wizard as an archetype, a literary symbol, a vehicle for fantasy, and as a commanding reality while considering such things as A Wizard of Earthsea, the figure of Merlin, The Teachings of Don Juan, Conversations with Ogotemmeli, the figure of Harry Potter, the poetry of W.B. Yeats and others, as well as additional things too secret to reveal at present, including the nature of esotericism.

Day/Time: Tuesday, 2:00-4:50

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.

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12138 Intro to Genres: Evil Incarnate

Some of the most compelling pieces of writing across all genre deal with, and often feature, deeply problematic central adversarial characters without which the poem, story, or essay would have no forward motion, and no cause to exist. From Capote’s In Cold Blood to Milton’s Paradise Lost, from Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita to Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem and Sabato’s The Tunnel, literature returns again and again to the question of evil and the concept of opposition. This course is designed to explore this question alongside authors who have devoted their lives to understanding the role of evil in literature, its necessity, its appeal, its frivolity and its betrayal. The course will be divided into three section, 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 brief analysis paper will be due. One creative piece, in any of the three major genres, exploring the said topic will be due at the end of the course.

Day/Time: Thursday, 12:30-3:20

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.

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 17008 Fundamentals in Creative Writing: The Art of Dialogue

How do you write silence? What is subtext? What is the structure of a joke? Dialogue is one of the most important elements of fiction because of its dynamism. It can, among other effects, reveal character, advance plot, and escalate tension.  In this seminar, we will read work that inspires, informs, and expands our understanding of the definition and usages of dialogue. We will read exemplars of fiction, nonfiction, drama, poetry, as well as watch film—all with the objective of discovering the aspects that make the dialogue (or written speech) in each text effective. The class will include work by Grace Paley, Ernest Hemingway, August Wilson, Toni Cade Bambara, Junot Diaz, Joan Didion, Tyehimba Jess, and Sally Rooney). We will discuss stylistic elements of the work, its ideas, and attempt to situate it in its cultural context. Class sessions will consist of informal writing, discussion, and lecture. Coursework includes two short creative assignments (with a critical component), questions for discussion, and informal writing.

Day/Time: Monday, 1:30-4:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Fundamentals

CRWR 17009 Fundamentals in Creative Writing: Speaking Silence

“Silence is pouring into the play like water into a sinking ship,” wrote Beckett of the role of silence in his elegiac masterpiece, Waiting for Godot. There is the silence of speechlessness, the silence of reticence, the silence of listening, the many silences of history – both personal and geopolitical – and beneath them all there is the silence we break when we’re born and to which we return when we die. This class will make a study of silence across a range of literary genres and styles, with the aim of amplifying what silence contains. From stage directions to erasure, from lineation to fragmentation to use of white space, typography, and images, we will examine an assortment of strategies writers like John Cage, Samuel Beckett, Anne Carson, Charles Reznikoff, M Nourbese Philips, W.G. Sebald, and John Keene have deployed in their engagement with silence. Class time will consist of discussions, in-class exercises, and occasional sharing of new work. A final critical paper of 15-20 pages will allow for creativity.

Day/Time: Tuesday, 1:30-4:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Fundamentals

CRWR 10306/30306 Beginning Poetry Workshop

This course explores basic approaches to writing poems through careful reading and discussion of modern and contemporary poets. We’ll practice poetic elements, such as rhythm, diction, syntax, and metaphor, at the same time that we explore the 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.

Day/Time: Friday, 10:30-1:20

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.

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206/30206 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Writing the Short Story

“The novel is exhaustive by nature,” Steven Millhauser once wrote. “The short story by contrast is inherently selective. By excluding almost everything, it can give perfect shape to what remains.” Through readings of published stories and workshops of students’ own fiction, this course will explore the parameters of the short story, its scope and ambitions, its limitations as well. We’ll read established masters like Edgar Allen Poe, Raymond Carver, and Joy Williams as well as many newer literary voices, breaking down their stories, not simply as examples of meaningful fiction, but as roadmaps toward a greater awareness of what makes a short story operate. Over the course of the quarter, students will submit full-length stories for consideration in workshop, as well as other experimental efforts in short-short and micro fiction. Discussion will revolve around basic elements of story craft—point of view, pacing, language, etc.—in an effort to define the ways in which a narrative can be conveyed with economy, precision, and ultimately, power.

Day/Time: Monday, 9:30-12:20

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.

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206/30206 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Mapping the World

Nature writer Barry Lopez suggests that knowing a place intimately and writing about it — whether that place is an Arctic ice floe or an urban taco stand — creates an important “sense of belonging, a sense of not being isolated in the universe.” In this course, we will read fiction by writers who explore the impact of place on community, culture, and the individual. We will take Lopez’s advice to “become vulnerable to a place,” and to represent that place and its people with rich and complex detail. Writing exercises and the occasional field trip will help to generate material, while responses to assigned readings will give you a bit more direction as you address issues specific to writing about places, as well as other fundamentals of fiction writing. You will also be required to produce a full-length story for workshop, letters of critique for each of your peers, and a substantial revision of your short story. Readings may include work by Marilynne Robinson, Jhumpa Lahiri, Breece Pancake, Edward P. Jones and others.

Day/Time: Thursday, 9:30-12:20

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.

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 23119/43119 Advanced Poetry Workshop: Poetry Of and Off the Page

Is there a place for poetry in a society in which reading has been declared dead—where at the very least, reading threatens to be eclipsed by scanning? In this workshop/laboratory, we will explore material whose response is a delirious “yes”—poetry that revels in charging the confines of the page and book. Exposure to an archive of modernist and contemporary visual and sound poetry, artists' books, contemporary installation and performance works, and relevant theories of media dislodgment will help us compose our own answers to the (old) question: what forms are poems obliged or inspired to take as language goes viral, in the face of total information, digitization, and post-literary culture? Readings and viewings in 20th- and 21st-century poetry and poetics, visits to local writing-arts collections, and class visits by local artists will help us generate our own works, which will be workshopped together.  Students will complete weekly assignments across media, and engage with the writing of their peers formally, while working toward a culminating piece in a medium of their choice: this final piece can take the form of a chapbook, performance, installation, or other pertinent channel.

Day/Time: Wednesday, 12:30-3:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 23128/43128 Advanced Poetry Workshop: Apocalyptic Poetry

It’s clear, increasingly, that we live in a time of imperiling crisis—political, ecological, even religious. Apocalypse is one of the genres poets use to make moral claims on the present, as well as to envision the nature of reality to come. Apocalypse also refers to vision, to a way of seeing that is both allegorical and incendiary. How, within the realms and forms of the contemporary poetic imagination, can you persuasively engage apocalypse? In this workshop, students will approach your own apocalyptic claims with those of some visionary masters in hand, including Emily Dickinson, Robert Lax, Fanny Howe, Pam Rehm, Adonis, Lawrence Joseph, Brian Teare, Autumn Richardson, Tim Lilburn, and Richard Skelton. Forms, language, and vision will absorb our study with a focus on visualizing and sharing your own apocalyptic poetry.

Day/Time: Tuesday, 9:30-12:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24007/44007 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Long-form Journalism

This workshop-based nonfiction course is suitable for any student who wants to work on long-form (1500 words and up) journalistic projects. To supplement our workshop submissions, we’ll look at a variety of texts touching on (and often combining) reporting on political, cultural, and environmental subjects. We’ll consider interviewing techniques and profile writing, as well works concerned with travel (of the non-touristic kind), sports, crime, politics, and the arts. We’ll read pieces by the likes of Katherine Boo, Eula Biss, Matthew Power, Ryzard Kapuchinski, Rivka Galchen, Jia Tolentino, Ted Conover, Alex Mar, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. The emphasis of the course will be on written narrative journalism, but other approaches and mediums will be welcomed. Ideally, students will come into the course with projects already in mind, but we will also work on developing stories and pitches and talk about navigating the print, online, and new media landscapes.

Day/Time: Wednesday, 1:30-4:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24017/44017 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Culpability & Accusation

Fiction writers say “If there’s no trouble, there’s no story”—an easier adage without the presumption of truth. This class will consider techniques for rendering “trouble” in narrative nonfiction. How can we write about the wrongs of others—and the wrongs we ourselves have committed—in a way that makes for a compelling story and an ultimately likable narrator? What makes a rendering of hate, abuse, indifference, ingratitude, or jealously compelling or empathetic in the end? What techniques—of persona, characterization, humor, pacing, or form—might help us write honestly and generously at the same time? And when generosity is not our aim, what other vehicles of connection are available to us? Readings may include essays by Jo Ann Beard, Richard Rodriguez, Shalom Auslander, Jesmyn Ward, Bret Lott, Albert Goldbarth, and Ocean Vuong.

Day/Time: Tuesday, 12:30-3:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
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.

Day/Time: Wednesday, 9:30-12:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 20214/40214 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Writers in Conversation

Whenever we write stories, we are in conversation with other writers, living or dead. Sometimes that conversation is quiet and intimate—a matter of subtle influence, much as we take on unconsciously the diction and cadences of admired mentors and beloved friends. Other times, the conversation is boisterous, a meeting of minds, a deepening of our collective discourse. Still other times, the conversation gets heated. We feel the need to set the record straight, give voice to a neglected or misrepresented character, vindicate a monster, or indict a hero. In this technical seminar, we will read writers responding to other writers—Victor Lavalle & H.P. Lovecraft, Haruki Murakami & Franz Kafka, Doris Lessing & Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Joyce Carol Oates & James Joyce, among others—and examine how these writers retell, modernize, and comment upon influential stories, making the stories their own while incorporating familiar elements. The emphasis of this course will be on critical writing, but students will also have opportunities to write creative responses to the readings and experiment with the craft techniques we discuss.

Day/Time: Wednesday, 10:30-1:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20216/40216 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Perspective

Who (or what) tells a story might be the most important decision a writer makes.  The narrator of a work of fiction will tell the story from a particular point in time, will have particular biases, agendas, frames of reference, lexicon, insights, and history. And all of those factors contribute to their perspective—in fact, a story’s narrative could be understood as the delivery of the narrator’s perspective to the reader. In this seminar, we will examine perspective in works of fiction, with an eye towards discovering the elements that comprise a given perspective and also what we might learn as writers from the work. Along with the reading material, assignments will include reading responses, creative writing exercises, and presentations. 

Day/Time: Tuesdays, 2:00-4:50

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Spring
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 contemplate the influence that elements such as diction, syntax, rhythm, and punctuation have on a writer’s style.

Day/Time: Tuesdays, 9:30-12:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 12142 Reading as a Writer: Voices From the Edge

When we think of groups that are othered, who and what do we mean? Is the other always defined against hegemonic ideas of race, gender, sexuality, and class? Can we understand American othering outside of post-colonialism? In this seminar, we will read work that investigates othering—which is to say, who and what constitutes an othered literary voice, the ways writers contend with that othering in their work, and the cultural and political forces that push an othered voice to “the edge” of the mainstream. To give a sense of the breadth of othering in literature, we will take a multi-ethnic/cultural/gender and multi-genre approach to our study, examining texts of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from Black, Asian, Native American, Latinx, and queer writers. That list will include Natalie Diaz, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Ocean Vuong, and Audre Lorde. We will work to deepen our facility with the skills needed to critique the ideas in the texts and also situate them in their cultural context. In addition, we will discuss how othering has produced eloquent literary voices and the particular aspects of a given writer’s eloquence. During the semester, you will engage in rigorous inquiry, prompted informal writing, and formal writing in the form of response-papers and short creative assignments accompanied by a critical reflection.

Day/Time: Mondays, 1:30-4:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12106 Intro to Genres: Science Fiction

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

Day/Time: Tuesdays, 2:00-4:50

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12141 Intro to Genres: Drawing on Graphic Novels

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. 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 Joe Sacco, Chris Ware, and Alison Bechdel. Assignments include weekly creative and critical assignments, culminating in a final portfolio and paper.

Day/Time: Thursdays, 10:30-1:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 17010 Fundamentals in Creative Writing: What is Character?

What is character? And what is acharacter? How we answer these two questions depends not only on the genre we're writing in, but also on the kind of writer and person we are. Which is also to say that tackling these questions requires a look within ourselves, a confrontation with who we think we are and how we think we see the world around us, even when our characters are nothing like us. In this Fundamentals course, we'll look at the range of ways that "character" can be seen and constructed—the different technical, aesthetic, and even philosophical approaches to characterization. How does characterization in a poem differ from characterization in a story, or in an essay, play, or memoir? What ultimately makes for a compelling and memorable character? Beyond actual human beings, what does it mean for an idea to be a character, or a city to be one, or the very work itself? Our reading material will include poetry, fiction, and essays, and our assignments will include reading responses, creative writing exercises, short essays, and presentations.

Day/Time: Tuesdays, 2:00-4:50

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Fundamentals

CRWR 10306/30306 Beginning Poetry Workshop

This course explores basic approaches to writing poems through careful reading and discussion of modern and contemporary poets. We’ll practice poetic elements, such as rhythm, diction, syntax, and metaphor, at the same time that we explore the 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.

Day/Time: Fridays, 10:30-1:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206/30206 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 like woodworking, or gardening. It’s like raising a half-formed, misbehaved child and then trying to reason with it. 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, dialogue, 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 dialogue-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.

Day/Time: Mondays, 9:30-12:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 23129/43129 Advanced Poetry Workshop: Radical Recycling

In this advanced poetry workshop we will turn from the Romantic notion of poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling…recollected in tranquility” towards a postmodern practice of radical recycling in response to global crisis. We will resurrect, excavate, interrogate, pilfer from, and otherwise raid a variety of archives, as a means of artistic engagement with the circulating materials of civic life. We will study examples of literary works whose principal technique is one of scavenging among such nonliterary sources as court transcripts, weather reports, grammar lessons, a war criminal’s memoirs, and the dictionary itself, to create fresh encounters with language. Texts to be studied will include Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee, Robin Coste Lewis’ Voyage of the Sable Venus, Charles Reznikoff’s Testimony, Lisa Robertson’s The Weather, C.D. Wright’s One Big Self,and M. Nourbese Philips’ Zong!, among others. Students will spend the quarter seeking out and assembling their own archives, and experimenting on the page with acts of salvage. Because this is a workshop, a large part of every class will be devoted to discussions of students’ original work.

Day/Time: Tuesdays, 1:30-4:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

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

Thinking about practices is a way of focusing a conversation between art historians, creative writers, 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, keepers of notebooks like John Berger and Rainer Maria Rilke, meditations by art historians writing for general readers, and by creative writers like Zadie Smith and Mark Doty, and writing by artists, from Anni Albers to Dawoud Bey.  

Day/Time: Tuesdays, 9:30-12:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 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.

Day/Time: Wednesdays, 10:30-1:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22143/44143 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Plot

Students will write and turn in two full-length stories or novel chapters for this workshop-based class. The class will pay special attention to plot: what it is, what the specific engines are that drive it, how it's connected to other elements such as character, setting, and dialogue. In addition to submitting and reading for workshop, expect to read and discuss at least one novel and a selection of short stories.

Day/Time: Mondays, 10:30-1:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22131/44131 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Migration Stories

In this advanced fiction workshop, students will read and write stories of migration. We will use research and imagination to construct narratives about the ways in which human beings move across time and place, and to work on creating characters who are forged and reforged by their cultural, linguistic, and familial contexts (both familiar and unfamiliar). Historical research will be a key component. Half of each class meeting will be devoted to the careful consideration of student work. Readings include fiction by Edwidge Danticat, Gish Jen, Chang Rae Lee, Jamaica Kincaid, Akhil Sharma, and Gene Luen Yang.

Day/Time: Thursdays, 9:30-12:20

Prerequisites

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

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops