Course Catalog

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 Workshops, Technical Seminars, and Fundamentals in Creative Writing require instructor consent via our program application form. Applications for Winter Quarter closed November 4th, 2022. Additional details, including course times, are on my.uchicago.edu.

Winter Quarter begins Tuesday, January 3rd. 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. 

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

 

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.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20219/40219 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Endings

What must an ending do? Tragic endings define the story that comes before; epiphany transcends it. Some endings hardly matter at all—and that's okay. Why do different stories demand different endings and how should we conceive of endings as we write towards them? Our own stories go unfinished when we don't know how to end them—but what exactly is the nature of that failure? Is the story like an equation that the ending has to solve? Or might the tyranny of the perfect ending invite us to reconsider the nature of storytelling? In this technical seminar we'll study fictions that end triumphantly (Austin), damningly (James), surprisingly (detective novels), and not at all (as in Kafka's unfinished novels). We'll weigh the problems and politics of endings—the unexamined need for closure, the too-easy sacrifice of the heroine—and consider critical views from Aristotle, Benjamin, and Shklovsky. Creative exercises, such as writing new endings for set texts, will complement weekly critical responses and—in the end—a final paper.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20229/40229 Technical Seminar in Fiction: 3D Character Builder

This reading and writing course will acquaint students with one of the essential tools of fiction writers, characterization. We will read works by authors including Baldwin, Guo, Nabokov, Munro, Sharma and Wharton, toward exploring how some of literatures most famous characters are rendered. How do writers of fiction create contexts in which characters must struggle, and how does each character's conflicts, choices, and use of language reveal his or her nature? How do we make characters whose behaviors are complicated enough to feel real, and why are some of the worst characters the most compelling? Students in this technical seminar will complete both creative and analytical writing exercises, reading responses, and a critical paper that focuses on characterization in a work of fiction.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 10306 Section 1/30306 Section 1 Section 1 Beginning Poetry Workshop

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 cross-roads 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. We will do so in conversation with our peers by way of regular 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 the class writing exercises and workshop conversations, to produce a portfolio prefaced by a critical reflection. Students who are interested in the multidisciplinary and multimedial intersections of poetry are especially encouraged to apply.

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.

 

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 12158 Reading as a Writer: Literature as Inoculation

These days, the words inoculation and vaccination are used interchangeably, despite the fact that the English word inoculation predates Western vaccination practices by nearly a century. In this class, students will explore the concept of inoculation as a kind of alchemy, a melding of science and zeitgeist. We will study the perspectives of writers across various cultures, genres, and academic specialties as we examine the ideological roots and ever-shifting cultural significance of inoculation. We’ll look closely at selections from Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Satius’s The Achilleid, Mary Wollstonecraft’s Maria, Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, Richard Rodriguez’s Darling, Jamaica Kinkaid’s My Brother, and Eula Biss’s On Immunity, among others. Through class discussion, reading responses, academic papers, and creative writing assignments, we will discuss the relationship between concepts of protection and concepts of vulnerability, alongside the ways inoculation—of various sorts—has served as a hallmark of self-governance, a shoring up of community, and, of course, a medical mandate.

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

2022-2023 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.

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

2022-2023 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. 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.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12152 Intro to Genres: The Immigrant Experience Through Literature

In this course, we’ll study the subgenre of immigrant literature, and through the examination of novel excerpts, short stories, poetry, plays, biographies, and memoirs, we’ll discuss the politics and aesthetics of canonized writers such as Amy Tan, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Emma Lazarus, as well as lesser-known writers. From the outset, we’ll discern the characteristics that define immigrants, refugees, exiles, expatriates, and how they, therefore, might show up differently on the page. We’ll consider how authors create engaging characters, by articulating their characters’ evolving sense of identity in the face of conflicting notions of “otherness,” assimilation, and acculturation. To gain a better understanding of how authors shape compelling, and moreover, believable plots, we’ll examine the push and pull factors that situate immigrants differently in the new land, and how their host societies regard them. In short critical papers, we’ll analyze the trends, features, and conventions of the subgenre, and in short exercises, you’ll write a story, poem, essay, or play about immigrants, informed by research, that utilizes the catalogue of questions, techniques, and practices that we identify. 

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.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12151 Intro to Genres: The Gothic Lens

This course will examine what is transfigured-tonally and imagistically, but also thematically and philosophically-when one approaches writing fiction through a Gothic lens. We'll treat the Gothic not merely as a pastiche or set of genre tropes, but as a specific mode of seeing and translating the world-of more accurately capturing the cultural, aesthetic, and personal vision of the author. Our readings will include some familiar classical texts as well as more contemporary and lesser-known works centered around London and its environs. We'll get a foundation in Romantic notions of the Gothic and follow these literary roots to how writers are employing it now, and then we will write and workshop our own "Gothic" scenes and narratives.

Prerequisites

Admission to London British Literature and Culture study abroad program.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 17013 Fundamentals in Creative Writing: Touchstones

Most passionate readers and writers have literary touchstones --those texts we return to again and again for personal or aesthetic influence and inspiration. When we are asked what book we would want with us if we were stranded on a desert isle, our touchstones are the ones that leap immediately to mind. Some texts are fairly ubiquitous touchstones: The Great Gatsby, Harry Potter and the [take your pick], The Bell Jar, Little Women, Letters to a Young Poet, Leaves of Grass. Others are quirkier, more idiosyncratic. What -- if any -- qualities do these touchstones share, within and across genres? What lessons about writing craft can be drawn from them? In this course, we'll read texts that are commonly cited as touchstones, along with fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction that students bring to the table -- their own literary touchstones. In that sense, our reading list will be collaborative, and students will be expected to contribute content as well as an analytical presentation on the craft issues raised by their selections. Our assignments will include reading responses, creative writing exercises, short essays and presentations.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Fundamentals

CRWR 10306 Section 2/30306 Section 2 Beginning Poetry Workshop: Shaping Poems

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

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10406 Section 1/30406 Section 1 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop: Representing Ourselves

Representing Ourselves: “We read to find ourselves” or so Harold Bloom told the mainstream media collective to which he belongs. But what about those who lack representation from canon to curriculum to publishing industry and literary criticism? How does our practice of reading and writing differ from the default standards of being which the American literary imagination has deemed “universal”? In this multicultural multi-genre workshop we will read and honor the works of people of color, Black, Indigenous, Muslim, immigrant, women, queer, gender-nonconforming, disabled, and incarcerated artists. Students will deconstruct and celebrate the unique ways in which they create and encounter ideas that may differ from their own, drawing connections between worldview and craft. Through collective leadership, mutual respect, and rigorous practice, students will boldly explore their identities with the goal of developing a nuanced literary aesthetics. Half the quarter will focus solely on original student work. Students will self-direct their goals, craft artist statements, and lead workshop discussions.

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.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10406 Section 2/30406 Section 2 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop (2)

In this seminar we will study the theory and practice of Oral History, and we will create original oral accounts of migration from our own families as well as from a wider 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 unique window onto our migration stories, offering 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. Seeking authenticity, oral historians become attuned to contradiction, tension, disagreements, silences, inconsistencies, ambiguities, paradoxes, uncertainties, and every other kind of human muddle; we dive head-first into the wide, wild world of human experience and human meaning-making, offering an important antidote to propaganda, dogma, imposition and stereotype. Learning to question, to interrogate, to experiment, to wonder and wander, to pay full attention, to construct and create—this is the foundation upon which to build an Oral History project of purpose and importance. We look for what happened, and the webs of significance people construct to make sense of what happened.

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.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 2/30206 Section 2 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Understanding Narrative Points of View

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, Edith Wharton, and Jhumpa Lahiri. Discussion will be lively—passionate opinions and enthusiasm are welcome—but most of our focus will be on the choices writers make, the nuts and bolts of craft, including: point of view, tone, direct and summary dialog, setting, and use of time. In-class exercises will further hone your understanding of specific techniques, fire your creativity and get you writing. We will then move to writing workshop, where 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. Course requires consent after add/drop begins; contact the instructor for a spot in the class or on the waiting list.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 3/30206 Section 3 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. Course requires consent after add/drop begins; contact the instructor for a spot in the class or on the waiting list.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 1/30206 Section 1 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Basics of Narrative Design

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.

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.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 23134/43134 Advanced Poetry Workshop: The Book as Form

What is a book? This supposedly obsolete medium has undergone vital metamorphosis over the course of the past century, migrating from text into the visual and performing arts, as well as online. As contemporary writers we will consider what it means to contribute to its evolution, thinking about new forms that the "poetry collection" can take, as well as more emergent forms of the book as project—or process. Authors to be studied include Sappho, Basho, Mina Loy, Bruno Munari, Bread and Puppet Theater, Susan Howe, Anne Carson, Ann Hamilton, Buzz Spector, Bhanu Kapil, Don Mee Choi, Jen Bervin, Mei-Mei Burssenbrugge, Stephanie Strickland, Tan Lin, Edwin Torres, Nanni Balestrini, Douglas Kearney, and Amaranth Borsuk. Be prepared to think about poetry from the scale of the syllable to the scale of the entire bound (or unbound) work.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24022/44022 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Writing Beyond the Event

Much of the tradition of Western storytelling relies on scene-driven narratives propelled by rising action toward an inevitable apex. Often natural disasters are illustrated the same way: hurricanes, invasion of new species, infectious disease, and oil spills are cast as singular events with a beginning, middle and end. This advanced workshop will explore how to push beyond the event. We will examine how forms of nonfiction, from investigative journalism to lyric essays, push against the hegemony of the “event” to tell a longer, slower story of disruption across the nexus of time and space. Following Rob Nixon’s concept of slow violence, readings will focus on places and communities whose narratives do not fit tidily into beginning-middle-end story structures. Workshop will ask students to consider how their work might recognize the contexts of extraction, commodity flow, climate change, and borders surrounding the “events” driving our stories.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 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 ones 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

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

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22125/42125 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Surfacing the Unseen

This course is for students with works-in-progress, whether a story collection or a novel, who feel stuck in their manuscripts. In weekly workshop sessions, we'll re-examine what's actually at stake in the narrative draft. We'll help each other dive deeper in our writing, to rediscover submerged aspects of the narrative that can be further explored - and what to do once we've uncovered them. With accompanying readings of novel excerpts and stories, we'll also examine how to incorporate next-level techniques such as re-sequencing the plot, imposing metaphorical value, and thematic layering of storylines.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22128/42128 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Novel Writing, The First Chapters

In this workshop-focused class we will focus on the early stages of both developing and writing a novel: choosing the POV, establishing the setting, developing the main characters and the dynamics between them, setting up the conflicts and seeding the themes of book, etc. As a class we will read, break down and discuss the architecture of the openings of several published novels as you work on your own opening chapters, which will be workshopped during the course. 

Prerequisites

Instructor consent required. Apply via creativewriting.uchicago.edu (include writing sample). Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22151/42151 Advanced Fiction Workshop: First Person Narration

In some ways, writing a first-person narrator seems like the most straightforward and natural kind of storytelling in the world. But as any writer who has made the attempt knows, that simple little “I” comes with an array of pitfalls – and possibilities. In this advanced fiction workshop, we will look at the many styles and approaches to first-person point of view: central narrators who are at the heart of the plot, peripheral narrators who witness and stand a little apart, the singular “I” vs. the plural “We,” direct address (often mislabeled as second-person narration), and the spectrum of unreliability. We will read and discuss fiction by writers like Jamaica Kincaid, Haruki Murakami, Kazuo Ishiguro, Charles Portis, Alice Munro, Raven Leilani, Russell Banks, Evan S. Connell and others, drawing craft lessons from these writers to guide our own attempts at writing in first person. 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 throughout the quarter, every student will complete a full-length first-person short story for workshop and compose critique letters for each of their peers. Students will be required to significantly revise their full-length story by the end of the quarter.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22118/42118 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Constructing a Full Length Novel

In this advanced fiction workshop, students will work on novel-length projects, completing one to two polished chapters and an outline of a full novel. We will explore how to structure a book that is both propulsive and character-driven, and how to create a compelling, unique narrative voice.  Works by James Baldwin, Edith Wharton, Ha Jin, Vladimir Nabokov, and Akhil Sharma will help us consider the crucial relationship between characters and their contexts.  

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Advanced Workshops

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.

Required for CW majors and MAPH CW Option students completing creative BA and MA theses in poetry and CW minors completing minor portfolios in poetry.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 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.

Required for CW majors and MAPH CW Option students completing creative BA and MA theses in nonfiction and CW minors completing minor portfolios in nonfiction.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 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.

Required for CW majors and MAPH CW Option students completing creative BA and MA theses in nonfiction and CW minors completing minor portfolios in nonfiction.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 29500/49500 Thesis/Major Projects in Fiction/Nonfiction (1)

This thesis workshop is for students writing a creative BA or MA thesis or minor portfolio in either fiction or nonfiction--or both. In other words, your project may take a number of forms: fiction only, nonfiction only, a short story and an essay, a novel chapter and a piece of narrative journalism, and so on. This course might be of special interest to those working on highly autobiographical pieces or incorporating substantial research into their creative process--fiction that hews close to fact, say, or nonfiction that leans heavily into storytelling. And/or it might be useful for those who want to pursue hybrid or between-genres projects or simply want to continue working in more than one form. We'll be open to many possibilities. It's not a prerequisite that you've taken both a fiction and creative nonfiction course previously, but it will nonetheless be quite helpful to have done so. Note, too, that this is the cumulative course in Creative Writing. There will still be room to explore and rethink (sometimes radically) the pieces you've drafted in previous classes, but please do come to our first session with a clear sense of what you want to work on over the quarter.

Required for CW majors and MAPH CW Option students completing creative BA and MA theses in fiction or nonfiction and CW minors completing minor portfolios in fiction or nonfiction.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 29200/49200 Thesis/Major Projects in Fiction (8)

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.

Required for CW majors and MAPH CW Option students completing creative BA and MA theses in fiction and CW minors completing minor portfolios in fiction.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 29200/49200 Thesis/Major Projects in Fiction (7)

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.

Required for CW majors and MAPH CW Option students completing creative BA and MA theses in fiction and CW minors completing minor portfolios in fiction.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 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.

Required for CW majors and MAPH CW Option students completing creative BA and MA theses in fiction and CW minors completing minor portfolios in fiction.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 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.

Required for CW majors and MAPH CW Option students completing creative BA and MA theses in fiction and CW minors completing minor portfolios in fiction.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 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.

Required for CW majors and MAPH CW Option students completing creative BA and MA theses in fiction and CW minors completing minor portfolios in fiction.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

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

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.

Required for CW majors and MAPH CW Option students completing creative BA and MA theses in fiction and CW minors completing minor portfolios in fiction.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

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

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.

Required for CW majors and MAPH CW Option students completing creative BA and MA theses in fiction and CW minors completing minor portfolios in fiction.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 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.

Required for CW majors and MAPH CW Option students completing creative BA and MA theses in fiction and CW minors completing minor portfolios in fiction.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Thesis/Major Projects

CRWR 20311/40411 Technical Seminar in Poetry: Urban Image and Poetic Play  

This technical seminar focuses on poems’ development of image through the work of urban writers. We will explore the lineage of urban lyric within the nineteenth century, then reflect on its development in the contemporary city. What impulse defines an “urban poetics?” What is urban lyric’s relationship with painting and photography? Do all city poems reflect one “city” in the end or is a more local impulse at work in cities as foci for writing? This course seeks to establish a solid, working basis in examining “image” and its lyric development through critical reflection and field work. To this end, we will work with a range of urban writers, including Paul Blackburn, Andrew Colarusso, Wanda Coleman, Kevin Killian, Frank O’Hara, Salima Rivera, Ed Roberson, and David Ulin. 

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Technical Seminars

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

What happens after you’ve completed an early draft of a nonfiction essay? With the genre’s commitment to lived experience and fact, what possibilities are yet available for revising nonfiction? This seminar will focus on approaches to revision that specifically address the challenges of rewriting and polishing literary essays. We will explore what possibilities yet remain even after “what happened” has been accounted for. Students will have the opportunity to bring in work from other nonfiction workshops and work towards its fruition. A slate of prompts will invite students to approach their written pieces anew, to explore aspects they’ve been waiting to address, and to implement feedback yet to be integrated. Revision is an important element of the writing craft; our readings will focus on elements of rewriting that unearth truer truths and consider how revising might become part of the story itself. Course readings will include works by Peter Ho Davies, Mary Karr, Ursula Le Guinn, and Brenda Miller. We will also draw on archives that show multiple drafts of published work, including that of Elizabeth Bishop and Barry Lopez.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 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 world-building, no matter what genre you write in. And convincing world-building is about creating a seamless reality within the elements of that world: from character dynamics, to setting, to social systems, and even the story or novel’s conceptual conceit. And whether it be within a genre of realism, historical fiction, or science fiction, building a convincing world takes a good deal of research. So while we look closely at the tools and methods of successful world-building, 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 world-building, 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. The class will also be linked with the History Department’s ExoTerra Imagination Lab.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20227/40227 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Reading and Writing the Body

In her seminal essay “On Being Ill,” Virginia Woolf writes, “Literature does its best to maintain that its concern is with the mind; that the body is a sheet of plain glass through which the soul looks straight and clear. [...] On the contrary, the very opposite is true. All day, all night the body intervenes.” This seminar will actively examine these bodily interventions in writing, and explore the merits of engaging deeply and precisely with the taboo subjects of sex, aging, illness, bodily change, and bodily difference. We will also discuss the concept of embodied writing—and the embodiment of physical experience through writing —using the body-centered prose of Bruno Schulz, Annie Ernaux, Rebecca Brown, Yasunari Kawabata, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, and other writers. Assignments will include short critical and creative responses, a final fiction assignment, and a final presentation.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20228/40228 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Historical Fiction

Rightly dismissed, sometimes, as the home of costume dramas and simplistic crowd-pleasers, historical fiction was once the forge of European realism, honing priorities of detail, scene, and character development that could bring the bare historical record to life.  Today, some historical fiction remains a site of pressing experiment, and in this seminar we’ll read such work to unlock the arguments of craft that spur fiction to distinguish itself from non-fiction in ways that still feel fresh.  Analytical and creative responses will follow readings in historical magical realism (Alejo Carpentier, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, or Toni Morrison), counterfactual historical fiction (John Keene or Laurent Binet), imagined biography (Fleur Jaeggy, Marcel Schwob, or Virginia Woolf), and in scholarship that itself borrows the tools of fiction (John Demos or Saidiya Hartman).  Along the way we’ll discuss illuminating critical polemics, and at the quarter’s end students will prepare an essay or experiment that uses historiography to throw the techniques of fiction into a new light

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Technical Seminars

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

In this core course, students will investigate connections between truth, art and beauty, by reading, watching, and writing works adapted from an historical record or "based on a true story." Weekly reading assignments include fiction, poetry, memoir, a graphic novel, and a film; students will be asked to write both critical essays and creative exercises that explore overlaps anddivergences between journalistic and artistic truth. Readings include works by Aristotle, Baldwin, Bechdel, Carson, Keats, Northup, and Rankine.

Prerequisites

 

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12155 Reading as a Writer: American Renaissance Revisited

Instructor: Jake Fournier

 

In this Arts Core class, students will read some of the major literary innovators of mid-nineteenth-century America alongside their twentieth-century and contemporary inheritors. The course combines historical, critical, and craft emphases, asking questions like: What made the decade before the U.S. Civil War one of the greatest periods of literary experimentation in the nation’s history? What were the lasting consequences of this experimentation on American and world literatures? And, finally, what lessons can we glean from these historical writers for our own contemporary creative praxis?  Students should expect to encounter the central authors of the traditional American Renaissance (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson) alongside both their defenders and detractors, including writers highly critical of the sort of literary canon formation that produced the American Renaissance itself and imagined it as an almost exclusively white and mostly male affair. For example, they will read Thoreau alongside both N+1 co-founder Mark Greif and National Book Award winner Robin Coste Lewis, whose “Inhabitants and Visitors” reimagines the historical Black communities around Walden Pond. Other pairings include Dickinson with Susan Howe; Whitman with June Jordan, Pablo Neruda, Cesar Vallejo, and Bernadette Mayer; and Herman Melville with Paul Beatty and Marlon James. In the process, students will do weekly writing exercises in multiple genres and give one class presentation. 

Prerequisites

Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory. Course satisfies College Arts Core Requirement.

Jake Fournier
2022-2023 Winter
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12144 Intro to Genres: Elegy

How does writing enact grief? What words address the dead? Can an elegy convey the complexity of a person, resisting hagiography? We’ll begin this investigation of the elegy by looking briefly at some Classical examples before turning our attention toward a range of modern and contemporary elegies in poetry and prose. 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. Writers studied may include Catullus, Sappho, M. NourbeSe Phillip, Rick Barot, Raúl Zurita, David Wojnarowicz, Solmaz Sharif, W.S. Merwin, Brandon Shimoda, Sarah Schulman, and Aracelis Girmay. 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. Satisfies the College Arts/Music/Drama Core requirement.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 17010 Fundamentals in Creative Writing: What is Character?

Characterization in any literary form seeks to bring a person, a story, and a world or worldview to life; but whether on the page or beyond it, what does it actually mean to be a character and to have character? In this course, we will approach this question not just as a matter of literary craft, but as an inquiry into how we see and construct our own humanity. Characterization, in that sense, involves more than design and imagination; it requires us to examine the various lenses we use to define ourselves collectively and personally as human beings—the lens of truth, of morality, of empathy, of self, etc. This can be a thorny but clarifying endeavor for a writer. Simply put: to create character, you have to interrogate who you are, even when your characters are nothing like you. To that end, we will discuss the fiction, essays, memoir, and poetry we read as exemplars of compelling and beautiful characterization, as well as a (speculative) reflection of who the authors think they are and how they see the world. We will also do reading responses, creative writing exercises, and presentations that will help us consider and apply what each of us means when we use the word character.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Fundamentals

CRWR 10306 Section 1/30306 Section 1 Beginning Poetry Workshop: The Sentence and the Line

Instructor: Jake Fournier

 

Through readings in a wide variety of formal, free verse, and prose poetry, and attentive workshops of student writing, this class will offer a compendium of great English sentences, new strategies for composition, as well as refreshers in advanced and basic English grammar. Students will weigh the interaction of the sentence against fundamental metrical patterns in both verse and lyrical prose, and they will interrogate how a variety of grammatical and syntactical features evolve within dynamic poetic forms. Mostly short, exemplary readings in poetic genres will move from classical to contemporary voices and feature a diverse range of styles and sensibilities—from Phillis Wheatley to Tommy Pico, Emily Dickinson to Jos Charles, Gwendolyn Brooks to Diane Seuss (and more). The class is not just about writing better sentences and becoming better communicators; it is about playing with the underlying fabric of our creative expressions and of our thoughts themselves. Course work will vary, but students will be expected to workshop their own poetry, to write weekly reading responses, and to experiment with different meters and sentence forms.

 

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.

Jake Fournier
2022-2023 Winter
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10406 Section 1 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop: Nature

Although humans live among non-human species, we often see representations of “nature” as utterly separate from human existence. However, the realities of a rapidly changing world unsettle this false distinction. This introductory workshop will consider how conventions of nonfiction might disrupt the nature/culture binaries. Developing aspects of literary craft, including form, voice, structure, scene-setting, and image, we will frame our creative endeavors through the lens of writing in the Anthropocene. Readings and workshop submissions will engage with apocalyptic fright, but also explore how language and form unearth delight. To begin, we will investigate human relationships to companion species with the aim of understanding the narrative elements of origin stories. We will then shift to representations of so-called native and non-native species to examine how language shapes, and can re-shape, these categories. Students will leave workshop having established a writing practice steeped in craft and shaped by questions of how we might write and think adaptively about current contexts. Readings include texts by Marwa Helal, Amy Leach, Tao Orion, Elena Passarello, Carl Safina, and Gary Snyder.

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.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10406 Section 2 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. Course requires consent after add/drop begins; contact the instructor for a spot in the class or on the waiting list.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 1 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Modern Fairy Tales

You’ve heard this one before.  Fairy tales are some of our most durable stories, and they are durable in two ways: they can survive not only the passage of time but the distortions of creative retellings.  In the first third of this class we will study folk tales from varied traditions, learning to recognize basic elements of storytelling such as closure, plot twist, and economy.  In the middle third of class we will write and workshop our original retellings, using the old tales as a frame in which to practice modern techniques like scenic narration, incidental detail, and interiority.  Finally, in the last third of the class you’ll write and workshop an original fairy tale.  Students will be responsible for weekly response papers and detailed critique of classmates’ workshop submissions.  Tales will be drawn from around the world; our modern models may include Franz Kafka, D.O. Fagunwa, Angela Carter, Italo Calvino, Yoko Tawada, and Ludmilla Petrushevskaya.

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.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 2 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Cultivating Trouble and Conflict

“If you want a compelling story, put your protagonist among the damned”—Charles Baxter

 

While crisis is to be avoided in life, when it comes to narrative, trouble is your friend. In this beginning workshop, you'll explore the ways writers create conflict in their stories, be it internal or external, spiritual or physical, romantic, financial or familial. We'll look at how writers use specifics of craft--including point of view, scene and summary dialog, causality, interiority, place, and narrative time--to create conflict that feels organic, foregrounded and inevitable. We’ll read and model masters of the form like ZZ Packer, George Saunders, Jhumpa Lahiri and Yiyun Li, and do weekly writing exercises that encourage you to take creative risks and hone new skills. Each student will work toward a final portfolio of one polished, revised story, with strong emphasis on focused and productive peer critique and in-class commentary.

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.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 21504/41504 Advanced Translation Workshop: Prose Style

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

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Advanced 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

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

2022-2023 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

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

2022-2023 Winter
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, writers who move back and forth with photographs like Teju Cole, Aisha Sabbatini Sloan and Geoff Dyer, interview-writers like Jordan Stein,  diarists like Hervé Guibert, and Chicago writers like Lee Bey and Rebecca Zorach.   

 

The course hopes to support students both in developing useful practices and experimenting boldly.  Class sessions will begin with student-led observation at the Smart Museum, and we will spend one session on close looking at works on paper 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. Apply via creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24025/44025 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Queering the Essay

In Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Queering the Essay, we'll approach the essay as a vehicle for queer narratives, as a marker of both individual and collective memory, and as a necessary compliment to the journalism and scholarship that have shaped queer writing. Through readings and in-class exercises, we'll explore tenets of the personal essay, like narrative structure and pacing, alongside considerations of voice and vulnerability. After a brief historical survey, we'll look to contemporary essayists as our guides--writers like Billy-Ray Belcourt, Melissa Faliveno, Saeed Jones, Richard Rodriguez, and T. Fleischmann-- alongside more familiar writers like Alison Bechdel and Maggie Nelson. And through student-led workshops, we'll wrestle with concerns that often trouble narratives of otherness: What does it mean to write a personal narrative that has a potential social impact? How can we write trauma without playing into harmful stereotypes? How can our writing work as--or make demands toward--advocacy, rather than voyeurism?

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22155/42155 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Writing About Work

Writing about work, jobs, and vocational experiences may seem contradictory— or even antithetical—to our goals in fiction. After all, if we aim to inspire, to invigorate, to otherwise wield a narrative “axe for the frozen sea within us” (as Kafka wrote), why write about the very day-to-day tasks so often charged with numbing and blurring our sensation of life? In this workshop, we will explore and answer this question with our own work-focused fictions, developing strategies for defamiliarizing the mundane, and using routines to build dramatic tension. Utilizing a combination of creative workshops and exercises—and drawing upon models from the job-focused fiction of Eugene Marten, Dorothy Allison, Lucia Berlin, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Edwidge Danticat, and other writers—we will also deepen and develop our characters through precise depictions of their work environments.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22137/42137 Advanced Fiction Workshop: The College Novel

In this advanced fiction workshop, we will examine and write narratives set at college, the so-called campus and varsity novels (and short stories). We will try to capture the attendant promise and uncertainty of life on the cusp of adulthood, asking what it means to come of age, to age, to experiment, and possibly, to regress. We’ll attempt to veer away from cultural cliché and caricature to portray the truth of life on (and off) campus and come to grips with the way you live right now, as we consider what it means—to borrow the title of one such novel—to make our home among strangers. Students will read published works by Elif Batuman, Danielle Evans, and Alice Munro, and will submit up to two original stories or novel excerpts for workshop. Please expect a rigorous but constructive workshop environment where being a critic and an editor is essential.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 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. 

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20309/40309 Technical Seminar in Poetry: Generative Genres

Poets often turn to the constraints and conventions of lyric forms (sonnets, sestinas, pantoums, etc.) as a way to engage with poetic tradition. The history of poetry, however, is as rich in genres as it is in forms. How is genre different from form? How do the two overlap? What are the oldest poetic genres and how have they evolved across cultures and time? How do new ones arise? In this course we’ll study both ancient and modern variations on traditional poetic sub-genres from across a range of cultures (the Japanese death poem; the English ode; the African-American ballad, etc) and consider how these poems complicate and deepen the tradition. We’ll read lists, letters, parables, and travelogues, and examine how considerations of genre, in addition to form, play a generative role in poetic innovation. Students will give a brief presentation, complete weekly creative exercises, and write a preface for and assemble a mini-anthology of a genre of their choosing.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20411/40411 Technical Seminar in Nonfiction: Revision

What happens after you’ve completed an early draft of a nonfiction essay? With the genre’s commitment to lived experience and fact, what possibilities are yet available for revising nonfiction? This seminar will focus on approaches to revision that specifically address the challenges of rewriting and polishing literary essays. We will explore what possibilities yet remain even after “what happened” has been accounted for. Students will have the opportunity to bring in work from other nonfiction workshops and work towards its fruition. A slate of prompts will invite students to approach their written pieces anew, to explore aspects they’ve been waiting to address, and to implement feedback yet to be integrated. Revision is an important element of the writing craft; our readings will focus on elements of rewriting that unearth truer truths and consider how revising might become part of the story itself. Course readings will include works by Peter Ho Davies, Mary Karr, Ursula Le Guinn, and Brenda Miller. We will also draw on archives that show multiple drafts of published work, including that of Elizabeth Bishop and Barry Lopez.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Spring
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 questions of point of view, perspective, and focalization. Readings may include stories by Jamil Jan Kochai, Lorrie Moore, Jamaica Kincaid, William Faulkner, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, and Edith Wharton, 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

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20234/40234 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Unlikeable Characters

From "unreliable" to "unlikeable," certain characters--and character qualities--are often measured against popular understandings of who is "good," who is "relatable," and who gets to decide. As Ottessa Moshfegh quips in a Guardian interview, "We live in a world in which mass murderers are re-elected, yet it’s an unlikeable female character that is found to be offensive." In this technical seminar, we will critically investigate cultural dialogues around "unlikeability," and discuss the shared qualities and compelling narrative capabilities of "unlikeable" characters. Assignments will include reading responses, short craft analyses, and a presentation.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 20232/40232 Technical Seminar in Fiction: Narrative Influence

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Technical Seminars

CRWR 12112 Reading as a Writer: City on the Remake

This course invites writers to reconsider the influence of Chicago’s public spaces on artistic impulse. In particular this quarter, we will examine aspects and depictions of a “fantastic Chicago.” If Chicago is a city that “dreams itself,” what do its spaces of violence and environmental devastation say about that dream? Students will analyze and explore Chicago writers’ work in prose and poetry, then develop their own creative responses, building connections to adopted critical approaches. To these ends, we will examine work by writers including Jeffery Renard Allen, Daniel Borzutzky, Bette Howland, Erik Larson, Bayo Ojikutu, and Ava Tomasula y Garcia, as well as the city’s rich legacies in documentary and the visual arts. 

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.

2022-2023 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 (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. Course requires consent after add/drop begins; contact the instructor for a spot in the class or on the waiting list.

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12157 Intro to Genres: Childhood

Flannery O’Connor said that anyone who survives childhood has enough material to last a lifetime; 2020 Nobel Prize Winner Louise Glück wrote, “We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory.” In this course we will study portrayals of childhood in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and film. We will read work from Justin Torres, Barry Lopez, Mavis Gallant, ZZ Packer, Sandra Cisneros, James Agee, Tobias Wolff, and others, seeking to explore how these artists push past common tropes and oversimplified representations to convey the actual subtlety, pain, wonder, and intelligence of childhood perception. Through this framework we will consider narrative and cultural conceptions of innocence, agency, epiphany, and perspective. We will interrogate what artists mean to say when they write about childhood, what meanings are found or created—about childhood but also about adulthood, and about what has—or has not—been left behind. Finally we will consider the enmeshed roles of memory, imagination, and experience in the creation of art. Students will be responsible for short creative and critical writing exercises, a presentation, and a final project, and will be expected to participate vigorously in class.

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.

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Arts Core Courses

CRWR 12156 Fundamentals in Creative Writing: A Gathering of Flowers

In 1925, The New Negro: An Interpretation, a collection of poems, short stories, and essays was published—it ushered a new era, what was then called the New Negro Renaissance. An artistic and literary movement with the objective to subvert what Alain Locke called the “Old Negro,” by providing a corrective and aspirational image of contemporary Negro life, was borne. Around forty years later, Black Arts: An Anthology galvanized the Black Arts Movement, what Larry Neal called the “aesthetic and spiritual sister” of the Black Power Movement. The Best American Short Stories and the Norton Anthology of Literature by Women are two more examples of anthologies, one to cultivate the genre and the other to recover the literature of marginalized women writers. 

In this course, we’ll examine anthologies, a word derived from the Greek for “a gathering of flowers.” As we study these “flowers,” we’ll discern the objectives that shape their construction, as well as what was put in and what was left out. In short essays and exercises, we’ll also investigate the social, cultural, and political contexts that influenced these objectives, as well as the resultant literary and cultural implications. For your final, you’ll design your own literary anthology.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Fundamentals

CRWR 10606 Section 1/30606 Section 1 Beginning Translation Workshop (1)

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.

 

This course is cross-listed with SALC 10706, SALC 30706, GRMN 10606, and GRMN 30606.

 

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10306 Section 1/30306 Section 1 Beginning Poetry Workshop (1): Writing the Self

What is the role of the self in our writing? Are we known or made things, even to ourselves, in our work? Beginning Poetry: Writing Identity focuses on writing and revising poems that capture the nuances of our often-intersectional identities, centering the questions: How is my work representative of me, and Who is the person represented in my work? Throughout the quarter, we will read, write, and discuss contemporary poems dealing with issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, ethnicity and cultural background, etc., and develop strategies for addressing similar ideas in our own work. You 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 supportive, process-oriented community that focuses on creative and critical feedback. While fellow students’ work will be the primary texts, other possible readings include work by Joy Priest, Adrian Matejka, Su Cho, Tarfia Faizullah, Nikky Finney, Dorothy Chan, torrin a. greathouse, and others.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10406 Section 2/30406 Section 2 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop (2): Uncertainty

This workshop will focus on the artistic possibilities of uncertainty in creative nonfiction. Writers have to tell our stories with authority. Yet many of our experiences of displacement, illness, trauma, and the slipperiness of memory remain unknown, unresolved, unhealed. While the need to render meaning from our narratives remains constant, when does certainty actually detract from that meaning? Can wisdom do more to obscure richer truths derived from form, tone, and voice? Readings and assignments will explore the ways that gaps invite creative opportunities and paradox. Workshop will explore the need for less knowing and more wondering in creative nonfiction. Course texts will include the work of Anne Carson, Carmen Maria Machado, Peter Orner, and Nathasha Tretheway. Through submitting your own original work and responding to the writing of others, our workshop will to illuminate how generative doubt can be.

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.

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10406 Section 1/40406 Section 1 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop (1): Real Characters

What does it mean to study another person’s life—a real person—and craft the collected pieces into a work of nonfiction? How do we gain insight into other people? How can we write about them with authority? As students report and write profiles in this nonfiction workshop, we will explore the practice and limits of this popular genre. Through weekly writing exercises and reading assignments, we will study techniques of interviewing and observing subjects, of using secondary sources and social and historical context. We will develop the abilities to depict people through physical detail, dialogue and action. In considering the extent to which we can and can’t know the real people we portray, we will also explore how writers (along with documentary filmmakers, historians, sociologists, writers of case studies) address these limitations in their work. Students will complete a short profile each week, and they will write one longer, workshopped and revised profile.

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.

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 3/30206 Section 3 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. Course requires consent after add/drop begins; contact the instructor for a spot in the class or on the waiting list.

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 2/30206 Section 2 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Mastering Narration and POV (2)

The question of which point of view to use is central to any fiction writer beginning a story or a novel, but what does it mean to choose one point of view over another? Who is narrating the story and how does she present herself? Is the narrator speaking directly to the reader, as a character in the story itself? Is she hiding in the shadows, trying to be as invisible as possible? Does she have a god-like omniscience, narrating from on high? Or does she exist in a liminal state, narrating through both a character and herself simultaneously? How does a writer's choice of POV and narrative distance affect such things as voice, rate of revelation, and even worldbuilding? How does it affect the reader's experience? And how can a writer maximize their choice of POV to best serve the story they want to tell? In addition to submitting two stories or excerpts for workshop (plus a revision of one), expect to read and discuss a selection of published work.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Beginning Workshops

CRWR 10206 Section 2/30206 Section 2 Beginning Fiction Workshop: Anxiety of Getting Started (1)

"Every story is perfect until you write the first sentence - then it's ruined forever." So said prolific fiction writer J. Robert Lennon. This craft-focused course is geared towards those who don't quite know how to begin, who might be afraid of writing, and who feel burdened by their own inhibitions and expectations. With creative exercises, readings, and workshops, we'll find ways to warm up our writerly voices and use them as a guiding force in creating short fiction. We'll learn how to mine the readings - by an eclectic mix of authors including Miranda July, Noviolet Bulawayo, John Cheever - for specific techniques and skills to apply to our own work. We will workshop our writings throughout the term. By the end, we will have built up a modest but powerful portfolio.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Spring
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

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 23123/43123 Advanced Poetry Workshop: Form and Formlessness

Wallace Stevens suggests that “The essential thing in form is to be free in whatever form is used.” How does form provide a kind of freedom for a poet? How does that freedom manifest itself in a poem? Does it mean we have to follow prescribed rules, or is there a more intuitive approach? This course will give students a chance to try out a range of traditional and experimental forms, both as an attempt to improve as writers and in order to interrogate form and its other, what Bataille called formlessness or "l’informe." We’ll examine different ways of constructing the poetic line, as well as forms such as the sonnet and the ode. We’ll also explore non-traditional forms such as prose poems, automatic writing, serial poems, list poems, and walk poems. Readings may include work by Joyelle McSweeney, Terrance Hayes, Dean Young, Yusef Komunyakaa, A. R. Ammons, Frank O’Hara, and Sylvia Plath. Students should expect to participate in weekly workshops, provide written commentary on peers' work, write several new poems, attend literary events on campus, and give a presentation.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24024/44024 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Writing Reading

The incisive review, the long-form reading memoir, the biographical sketch of a writer in history, the interview podcast, documentation of translation, diaristic response fragments — serious readers know and love the myriad forms for writing reading, but don’t always have the chance to practice them. In this course, we’ll try many forms, working to develop individual approaches and styles and regular practices. We’ll make use of both creative (and traditional) research, analysis, and criticism, and explore the wide terrain available to creative writers — imitation, imagination, metaphor, voice, changes in perspective, conversational modes. We’ll go back to foundational essayists including Virginia Woolf and Toni Morrison, and study contemporary writers of reading like Jazmina Berrera, Claire Messud, Niela Orr, Ruth Franklin, Hanif Abdurraqib, and Parul Sehgal. Students will keep a reading/writing notebook, conduct an interview, and write and revise a longer essay for workshop

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24026/44026 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Feminist Biography

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

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

Avi Steinberg
2022-2023 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 24023/44023 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Coming of Age Memoir

Where does childhood end and adulthood begin? For Wordsworth growth happens in reverse. “The Child is the father of the Man,” he wrote in 1802, yearning to recall the fundamental joy of a rainbow. Proust was eager to forget his schooldays: “We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us.” In this class, students will search their lives for events and lessons which they may consider formative, together evaluating the standards they use to qualify rites of passage, in order to isolate unique patterns of growth that students can call their own. Half the quarter will be dedicated to discussing original student work. A multitude of possibilities will be offered by readings of contemporary memoirists from all walks of life. By the quarter's end, each student will have laid down the groundwork for a dexterous memoir about surviving the challenges of their youth, and in doing so perhaps even imagine a future that is less prescribed and more personally fulfilling.   

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22153/42153 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Rants and Rambles

The unshackled narrators that dominate many of our most exciting novels—from Dostoevsky’s underground man to the uber-relatable mother of 2019’s Ducks, Newburyport—take their bearings not from the scenic method of theater or the omniscient narration of history but from the essay form and from oral storytelling.  This workshop plumbs those resources to better understand this alternative tradition, studying the craft that can make unruly narrative both highly entertaining and intellectually satisfying, exploring rhetoric, repetition, leitwortstil, logical nesting, suspense, digression, irony, and humor.  While executing creative exercises in voice, we’ll read books of furious energy by Thomas Bernhard and Jamaica Kincaid alongside cooler, essayistic meanders by W. G. Sebald and Claire-Louise Bennett.  Students will compose and workshop a substantial work that takes its cues from these examples.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22135/42135 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Narrative Time

The Long and the 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 Kate Chopin. Students will be encouraged to experiment with time in both writing exercises and story revisions.By the end of the course, you will have generated significant raw material and workshopped one story. Two stories, one polished and one in draft, will be prepared for the final.   

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 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

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops

CRWR 22152/42152 Advanced Fiction Workshop: Finding and Refining Voice

As writers, your "voice" is essentially you imposing who you are on the believability of your sentences. It's the process of constantly asking yourself—whether your words are describing a character, an idea, or an image—Do I absolutely believe this?; then rewriting and rewriting your sentences until you absolutely do believe it; and then refining all the technical aspects you brought to bear to assure that level of personal truth. In this workshop, we will examine this process as a crucial step in your development of your own aesthetic: not just a writing style, but more importantly a personal perspective on the world that necessarily informs and is informed by that style. We will read a selection of writers with distinctive literary voices (Paul Bowles, Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Lorrie Moore, Ottessa Moshfegh, Ocean Vuong, Garth Greenwell, etc.) and complement those readings with writing exercises and workshops of your own fiction, where you will actively seek, cultivate, and refine your emerging voice. For the quarter, everyone will workshop one full-length piece of fiction as well as a significant revision of that piece.

Prerequisites

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Advanced Workshops