Fall 2004 Creative Writing CoursesEnglish 010.301 Creative Writing: Non-fiction and Poetry Devaney T 1:30-4:30
English 010.302 Making Worlds: An Introduction to Fantasy and Science Fiction Writing Snead W 2-5:00
English 111.301 Experimental Writing Seminar: Uncreative Writing Goldsmith R 1:30-4:30
English 112.301 Fiction Writing Workshop Apple T 1:30-4:30
English 112.302 Fiction Writing Workshop DiBartolomeo W 2-5:00
English 113.301 Poetry Writing Workshop Beavers W 2-5:00
English 115.301 Advanced Fiction Writing Rile M 2-5:00
English 116.401 Screenwriting Lapadula M 2-5:00
English 117.301 The Arts and Popular Culture DeCurtis R 1:30-4:30
English 118.301 Poetry Writing Workshop Djanikian T 1:30-4:30
English 119.301 Writing Criticism of the Performing Arts Kant M 2-5:00
English 135.301 Creative Non-Fiction Writing Apple R 1:30-4:30
English 135.302 Creative Non-Fiction Writing Funderburg W 2-5:00
English 135.303 Writing Advisors Section Ross TR 10:30-12
English 135.601 Creative Non-Fiction Writing Strauss M 5-8:00
English 145.301 Advanced Non-Fiction Writing Hendrickson T 1:30-4:30
English 145.302 Advanced Non-Fiction Writing Strauss M 2-5:00
English 155.301 Documentary Writing Hendrickson W 2-5:00
English 412.640 Fiction Writing Workshop DiBartolomeo T 6-8:40 (CGS MLA course)
English 415.640 Reading and Writing Short Stories Watterson W 5:30-8:10 (CGS MLA course)
English 010 Creative Writing: Non-fiction and Poetry Devaney The personal essay, the lyric essay, narrative nonfiction are parts of the evolving whole of cross-genre writing, an increasingly popular hybrid form known as creative nonfiction. In this class we will explore techniques from both fiction (characters, dialogue, and story-telling) and poetry (music, economy, and imagination) to generate new possibilities in your work. Will we also explore how creative reading informs what is called creative writing. Students will be encouraged to experiment and explore strategies for new work. The first half of the semester we will focus on creative nonfiction including writing about people, places and inventive approaches to the essay. In our section on poetry we will explore the terrain between poetry and prose, translation, and other modes of this expansive genre. This course will help you explore how to make art with words and push the boundaries of what you can do story-wise and otherwise.
The course will take the form of a reading and writing seminar; therefore, consistent class participation is essential. In class we will work on close reading and writing assignments and we will review and discuss each other's work. A final manuscript of 12-15 revised pages will be required, with dates set throughout the semester to guide the final submission.
Time: T 1:30-4:30
English 010 Making Worlds: An Introduction to Fantasy and Science Fiction Writing Snead In this class we'll read and discuss excerpts from and short pieces of contemporary and classic fantasy and science fiction writing while working on science fiction andfantasy writing of our own. The course is primarily a workshop; students will be expected to write and respond to each other's writing, as well as to the assigned readings, each week. Grades will be based on attendance, class participation, weekly writing assignments, and a final portfolio and self-evaluation. Time: W 2-5:00
English 111 Uncreative Writing Goldsmith It's clear that long-cherished notions of creativity are under attack, eroded by file-sharing, media culture, widespread sampling, and digital replication. How does writing respond to this new environment? This workshop will rise to that challenge by employing strategies of appropriation, replication, plagiarism, piracy, sampling, plundering, as compositional methods. Along the way, we'll trace the rich history of forgery, frauds, hoaxes, avatars, and impersonations spanning the arts, with a particular emphasis on how they employ language. We'll see how the modernist notions of chance, procedure, repetition, and the aesthetics of boredom dovetail with popular culture to usurp conventional notions of time, place, and identity, all as expressed linguistically.
Part of each session each week will be focused on reading a series of assigned exemplary works; however, the main focus will be on writing by participants. Web, spam, listerserv, file-sharing, chat rooms, etc. will be actively used. Likely readings, listenings, and viewings: Andy Warhol a: a novel; Empire, John Cage Silence, Walter Benjamin: "The Work of Art in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction," The University of Pennsylvania Handbook on Academic Integrity, Woody Allen: What's Up, Tiger Lily?, John Oswald: Plunderphonics; Negativland: U2; Fair Use, Sherrie Levine, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Joseph Kosuth, Purloined, Jean Baudrillard: "The Precession of Simulacra," Robert Smithson: Hotel Palenque, Coyle & Sharpe, Reality TV (Candid Camera, An American Family, The Osbournes, The Real World, Rich Girls, Survivor, Punk'd, Jackass), Oulipo, Fluxus, Conceptual, and Futurist writings. The final project will consist of a collectively edited magazine, books, website, or multimedia project, to be determined and executed as a group.
Students interested in taking the class should submit by email to " kg @ ubu dot com (remove the spaces)" a brief writing sample to the instructor. Also, include your name, last four digits of your social security number, E-mail, address where you can be reached. Permit is required from the instructor.
Time: R 1:30-4:30
English 112 Fiction Writing Workshop Apple The class will be conducted as a seminar. Every student will write three stories during the semester; each story will be discussed by the group. The instructor will, from time to time, suggest works of fiction that he hopes will be illustrative and inspirational but there will be no required books. Attendance and participation are essential.
Students who have completed and taken pleasure in a fiction writing course need not submit writing samples. Others please submit brief samples to: email@example.com.
Time: T 1:30-4:30
English 112 Fiction Writing Workshop DiBartolomeo Text: Not yet determined for this semester
This is a course for students interested in serious fiction writing-literary or genre or somewhere in between-but always seriously and always with a mind to perfecting the work at hand. To that end, we will read short fiction from an anthology and some-very little-"instructional" material. We will discuss the fictions primarily as writers, as opposed to literary "analyzers." We will talk about why the stories engage us and why not. We will identify their "prime movers," that is, the elements in a narrative that urge us-or not-through them. Are the characters interesting and consistent (where this question applies, usually to conventional, realistic fiction as opposed to metafiction, where the question is often irrelevant)? Is there sufficient movement (action, plot, story)? Can we appreciate the art of the narration's technique? Is there a discernable style that we can appreciate?
We will ask the same questions of student work during workshops, which will begin early in the term. Workshop pieces can be revised-you are expected to revise everything, particularly your major assignments-and then submitted as your graded writing assignments. Every student will take at least one turn at serving as an editor for the workshop piece under discussion, and the editor will write an informal "response" to the work to be given to the writer and to the instructor.
There is one major writing assignment of 20 pages. Ideally, this should be a single story. If, however, you must "write short," two or perhaps even three fictions of shorter length and totaling 20 pages will do.
Throughout the term, students will be required to write three brief scenes, length open, all of which can be used-reworked, let's hope-in the longer requirements. These are due: 4th week, 7th week, and 10th week. Naturally, a scene can be dialogue-driven (almost all dialogue) or, at the other extreme, completely exposition (no dialogue). If the scene does not come at the beginning of a narrative, then you will need to write a brief set-up as an introduction to the scene.
Class participation is vital and expected.
Time: W 2:00-5:00
English 113 Poetry Writing Workshop Beavers This workshop is intended to help students with prior experience writing poetry develop techniques to generate poems along with the critical tools necessary to revise and complete them. Through in-class exercises, weekly writing assignments, readings of established poets, and class critique, students will acquire an assortment of resources that will help them develop a more concrete sense of voice, rhythm, metaphor, and the image as well as a deeper understanding of how these things come together to make a successful poem. In addition to weekly writings, students will be asked to keep a journal, and to produce a final portfolio of poems.
Students who wish to participate in this workshop should submit 3-5 poems (none longer than 30 lines) to Herman Beavers, 119 Bennett Hall/6273. In addition to your name and SSN, please provide a phone number or e-mail address where you can be reached. Permission of the instructor is required for registration in this course.
Time: W 2:00-5:00
English 115 Advanced Fiction Writing Rile English 115 a workshop for advanced writers who have already completed at least one semester of English 112 or its equivalent. Participants should be familiar with technical topics in fiction writing, such as point of view and narrative distance.
In this class you will have at least two opportunities to present a story or novel excerpt to the workshop. You are also encouraged to present revisions of your work. We will do some exercises designed to illuminate technical, ethical, and aesthetic issues in fiction, but the emphasis throughout the semester will be workshopping student-initiated projects. Admission to this class requires an instructor permit. Send a sample of your fiction to 119 Bennett Hall or to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Time: M 2:00-5:00
English 116 Screenwriting Lapadula This course will look at the screenplay as both a literary text and blue-print for production. Several classic screenplay texts will be critically analyzed (i.e. REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, CHINATOWN, PSYCHO, etc.) Students will then embark on writing their own scripts. We will intensively focus on: character enhancement, creating "believable" cinematic dialogue, plot development and story structure, conflict, pacing, dramatic foreshadowing, the element of surprise, text and subtext and visual story-telling. Students will submit their works-in-progress to the workshop for discussion.
"Students interested in taking the class should submit a brief writing sample to Professor Marc Lapadula, Department of English, 119 Bennett Hall/6273. Also, include your name, last four digits of your social security number, E-mail, address where you can be reached. Permit is required from the instructor."
Time: M 2:00-5:00
English 117 The Arts and Popular Culture DeCurtis "Writing About the Arts" is a workshop-oriented course that will concentrate on all aspects of writing about artistic endeavor, including criticism, reviews, profiles, interviews and essays. For the purposes of this class, the arts will be interpreted broadly, and students will be able -- and, in fact, encouraged -- to write about both the fine arts and popular culture. Students will be doing a great deal of writing throughout the course, but the main focus will be a 3000-word feature story about an artist or arts organization in Philadelphia (or another location approved by the instructor) that will involve extensive reporting, interviews and research. Potential subjects can range from a local band to a museum, from a theater group to a novelist -- all of which students have written about in previous classes.
Class meetings will include detailed discussions of the students' own writing, as well as that of the instructor and other writers whose work appears in magazines, newspapers and journals. A considerable effort will be made to have the course be as professionally focused and "real time" as possible, so current stories in the media will frequently be the subject of class discussion and critique. A number of writers, critics, journalists, editors and other media types will visit the class to share their work and experiences with the students, and to participate in the discussions. It should be emphasized that, in discussing the work of fellow students, courtesy and respect will be as much required as candor.
Those interested in taking the course should submit as soon as possible one or two samples of their best prose to Anthony DeCurtis, Department of English 119 Bennett Hall/6273. Applicants can also mail their work directly to the instructor at: 875 West End Avenue, Apt 10G, New York, NY 10025. Also include your name, SS#, undergraduate class, and the telephone number where you can be reached. Permit is required by the instructor.
Time: R 1:30-4:30
English 118 Poetry Writing Workshop Djanikian This workshop is designed for those of you who desire advanced study in poetry writing. The hope is that by semester's end, through revision, you will have a portfolio of poems which are for the most part consistent in voice, form, and/or thematic concern. Discussion and constructive peer responses to student work will be the primary focus of the course so your participation is essential. We'll read an anthology of essays about writing, and individual collections by contemporary poets. Students will also be asked to submit written responses of each other's poems, as well as on the assigned collections and essays. Please email me three sample poems at email@example.com. Time: T 1:30-4:30
English 119 Writing Criticism of Performing Arts Kant The seminar aims to provide basic tools for understanding and writing performance criticism. We begin by discussing the position and function of the critic in modern society. We will think about historical art genres and consider the fundamental change performance concepts underwent in the 20th century. Students will practice observing performances from high culture opera and ballet to avant-garde happenings and multi-media spectacles and translating what they hear as well as the images they see into words. Students will be introduced to the professional requirements a critic is confronted with and will learn to write within time and space constraints. We will watch video productions and go to live performances. The seminar will also focus on discussing controversial attitudes within performance criticism itself and analyze well known critics reviews of events. Time: M 2:00-5:00
English 135 Creative Non-Fiction Writing Apple Each student will write three essays and the class will offer criticism and appreciation of each. There will be some discussion of and instruction in the form, but the course will be based on the student writing. Attendance and participation required. Time: R 1:30-4:30
English 135 Creative Non-Fiction Writing Funderburg Creative nonfiction essays, at best, celebrate curiosity, observation, prejudice, and other idiosyncrasies of the human condition. They use reportage and the literary techniques of fiction in the service of compelling real-life stories. In this workshop-style class you will write and revise four essays (1200-1500 words each).
Aside from some general guidance, the subject matter of your work is deliciously open and up to you. I am, however, available to help shape and steer and urge you away from the overly solipsistic. Take advantage of the city that surrounds you; the questions and answers you've stumbled across; the way life has surprised you, held you captive, or set you free. Subjects can range from the Reading Terminal at lunchtime, an open mike night, a Howard Johnson's counter on a rainy afternoon, a contentious dorm meeting, the bird outside your window, or a visit home.
In assignments, class exercises and discussions of the readings, we will address technical issues such as narrative/thematic tension, transition, character development, dialogue, point of view, characterization, imagery, metaphor, as well as the skills of interviewing, structure, tone, style, and personal voice. We will use your (and occasionally my) work as the bases for discussion. Since I am a full-time freelance writer, you will also be subjected to my wit and wisdom about the publishing world.
The core aim here is to get a group of student writers writing, and to have you stretch beyond what you know by grappling with the revision process and sharing work with the class. Class participation is vital and expected.
In order to hit the ground running, students should come to the first class having read "Goodbye to All That," by Joan Didion, and "The Transaction" and "Simplicity," by William Zinsser (all available in the course bulk pack, available at Campus Copy).
Time: W 2:00-5:00
English 135 Writing Advisors Section Ross This course is intended for capable writers who possess the maturity and temperament to work successfully as peer tutors at Penn. The course emphasizes the development of tutors' own writing through the process of collaborative peer-criticism, individual conferences, and intensive sessions on writing, from mechanics to style. The class meets twice weekly; tutors also work two hours weekly in the Writing Center or elsewhere, and confer regularly in small groups, or one-on-one meetings with the instructor. Tutors are required to write four papers, eight peer critiques, and two author responses, as well as keep a journal of their classroom and field experiences, and responses to readings. Tutoring training occurs in the classroom as well as onsite, and issues and ideas as well as problems arising out of on-the-job experience in the Center can be brought back to the classroom for discussion. Along with attention to writing, training also addresses communication skills. Time: TR 10:30-12:00
English 135 Creative Non-Fiction Writing Strauss Do you feel you have a fresh perspective on life's goings-on? Did you look at a building today and wonder what's going on inside? Is there an event, a person, an idea that you think has been misunderstood, misinterpreted, under-appreciated? If so, come and investigate with me. We will spend the semester doing our best to write out of that paper bag that is made up of our curiosity, our observations and our prejudices. The best creative non-fiction explains, but it also makes us run to learn more about the subject. We will have a special emphasis on humor, perhaps the most difficult type of writing to pull off. We'll look at different definitions and styles of humor, from Woody Allen's to Mark Twain's to, with good fortune, your own. We will be reading some of the best magazine and newspaper writing of the last century, and hopefully be writing some stuff like it as well. We will talk about essays, arts reviews, general features and even sportswriting. Students will be required to write at least two pieces of magazine length (2000 words or so) and several shorter pieces. The longer pieces will be presented to the class for workshop criticism. Time: M 5:00-8:00
English 145 Advanced Non-Fiction Writing Hendrickson This is an intensive course in creative nonfiction--both the reading and practice of it. It's seeking to look at fact as literature. Think of it as the art of fact: using reportage and some of the literary techniques of fiction in the service of compelling, true, real-life stories--sometimes your own story. The core goal is to get a circle of student writers writing, and have them willing to share the work aloud in class. Implicit in this is the willingness to suffer some gentle slings of criticism. We will be examining models of nonfiction from present and past word masters: Annie Dillard, E.B. White, Joan Didion, James Baldwin, Michael Herr, Tim O'Brien, John Hersey, James Agee, George Orwell, Thomas Lynch. Ever heard this last name? Lynch is a Michigan undertaker. He writes like a dream. Good writing is where you find it; sometimes it will be about the art of taking folks under.
We will attempt different forms of creative nonfiction, starting with the personal essay or family memoir. Then we'll move on to something deeply reported and/or researched--something that's essentially outside oneself. For this piece it's likely a student will travel into the nearby world and observe something: or interview someone (or several someones). The piece--and these are always to be thought of as "pieces," not as "papers"--could be a profile of a local personality or athlete. It could be an extended scene, say, of a jazz club, or of a hospital emergency room, or of a homeless shelter, or of the Reading Terminal Market. The student will have the primary say in what he or she wishes to tackle. But the instructor will approve the story idea and will monitor and help guide its development. Although not a direct aim of the workshop, it's slimly possible someone will emerge with a piece of nonfiction that any professional magazine or newspaper editor in his or her right mind would be proud to publish. This has happened in previous workshops.
Those interested in taking the course should submit as soon as possible one or two samples of their best prose (paper copies only, no electronic submissions will be accepted) to Paul Hendrickson, Department of English 119 Bennett Hall/6273. Also include your name, last four digits of SS#, undergraduate class, e-mail address and telephone number where you can be reached. Permit is required by the instructor. Those chosen for the course will be notified by the end of the current term.
Time: T 1:30-4:30
English 145 Advanced Non-Fiction Writing Strauss I’m looking for a cadre of folks who are serious about having fun with words. You will have to have a sense of humor that has a bent for real analysis as well. Think about some words we use every day: soccer mom, very, middle-aged, interesting, the fact that. Where do they come from? Why do they exist? Can we do better?
I assign a lot of short writing on topics common and whimsical. I expect something far different from term paperese, perhaps something you have never thought of writing before. I am a working journalist as well and may even be able to impart some wisdom in those quarters. We will also workshop your longer writing with the rest of the class to get what will presumably be a wealth of insight from your contemporaries as well. The point here is not that you will become Hemingway, or even Dave Barry, in 15 weeks, but that you may be inspired to pursue good writing – your own and that of others – for having spent time here.
Time: M 2:00-5:00
English 155 Documentary Writing Hendrickson This is a relatively new offering in advanced nonfiction writing. It will function as a workshop, with a select group of students. It's a course that will honor the spirit and tradition of "documentary" writing. The word "documentary" has meant many things over time. Here, it means a kind of nose-close observation and reportage. It means a level of being with one's subject matter in a way that other creative writing courses don't allow because of their format and structure. In English 155, a student writer at Penn will dare to "hang" with his topic--a girl's high-school basketball team; a medical intern in a HUP emergency room; a cleaning lady doing the graveyard shift in a classroom building; a food-truck operator crowding the noontime avenues; a client-patient in the Ronald McDonald House near campus; a parish priest making his solitary and dreary and yet redemptive rounds of the sick and the dying in the hospital--for the entire term.
Yes, the whole term. And at term's end, each writer in the course will have produced one extended prose work: a documentary piece of high creative caliber. This is our goal and inspiration. The piece will be 30 to 40 pages long.
Some people tend to think of the "documentary" genre (whether on film or in words) as work devoid of emotion--just the facts ma'am. But in truth, emotion and deep sensitivity are prerequisites for any lasting documentary work. The nature of documentary, true documentary, implies moral and social scrutiny; means detailed fact-based reporting, depends on personal response to that factuality. This course will draw on specific literary and journalistic interests of the instructor that go back about 30 years.
The core reading models will be James Agee and George Orwell--Specifically, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by Agee and The Road to Wigan Pier by Orwell. Separately, across oceans, in 1936, in the belly of the Depression, these two incomparably gifted journalist/authors--one an American, one an Englishman--entered some damaged lower-class lives and proceeded to produce literary classics of the form. Agee went to Hale County, Alabama, to live with sharecroppers. Orwell traveled to the industrial grit of north England to observe coal miners.
Under the instructor's guidance, the students will choose within the first three weeks. Choosing the subject is crucial. Access will have to be gained, cooperation assured. Within five weeks, rough drafts will begin to be produced--scenes, sketches, captured moments--and these will then be brought in to be read aloud to the group. This will be a way of finding the piece's eventual form as well as making sure all participants are working at a level of continual intensity. The final product will be due at the 13th or 14th week of the term. Throughout the term we will constantly be consulting the various documentary reading models, even as we are concentrating on our own work. Candidates for this course are asked to submit as soon as possible one or two samples of nonfiction prose (paper copies only, no electronic submissions will be accepted). Give them to the department administrative assistants who will then get them to the instructor. When submitting writing samples please include name, phone number, e-mail address and last four digits of your social security number. A brief interview with the instructor is required before a permission to enroll can be granted. Those chosen for the course will be notified by the end of the current term.
Time: W 2:00-5:00
English 412 Fiction Writing Workshop (CGS MLA course) DiBartolomeo Text: Not yet determined.
This is a course for students interested in serious fiction writing. We will read short fiction as "bass lines" and some "instructional" material. We will discuss the fictions primarily from the point of view of writers and less so as literary "analyzers"; that is, we'll talk more about the construction of the work in the creation of meaning, rather than the meaning itself. We will talk about why the stories engage us, why not. We will identify their "prime movers," those elements in narrations that compel us to read them: story line, character, narrative technique, sensibility, sound. We will ask the same questions of student work during workshops.
The workshops will begin in the second week of the term. Every student will take at least one turn at serving as an editor for the workshop piece under discussion, and the editor will write an informal "response" to the work to be given to the writer and to the instructor. Students should expect to be workshopped twice.
Throughout the term, students will be required to write five brief items: a description, a monologue, a dialogue, and two scenes. Length is open. The brief pieces can be used in the longer requirements. They are due the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th weeks.
There is a single major writing assignment of 18 double-spaced pages due at the end of the semester. A first draft will be due after the first round of workshops (about mid-way through the term). This can be a single narrative (story or, in some cases, a chapter or several) or two stories. The major assignment can include the brief assignments, and it is expected to include the work submitted during workshop. Under some circumstances, the major assignment can be completely new.
Class participation is vital and expected.
Time: T 6-8:40
English 415 Reading and Writing Short Stories (CGS MLA course) Watterson This writing workshop, which will focus on how to tell a good story, whether it's fiction or creative nonfiction, will help writers tap into their own experiences to create, shape and revise stories for a wider audience. In-class writing exercises and visualizations will jump-start or enhance works-in-progress that may include the short story, personal essay, novel or memoir. Students also will explore the importance of detail, humor, perspective, character, and place in both fiction and nonfiction. Readings will include a novel and nonfiction book, as well as short stories and essays from a range of versatile writers, including Grace Paley, James Baldwin, E. B. White, Barbara Kingsolver, Jamaica Kincaid, Michael Malone and Mark Twain. Students will be asked to maintain writing journals, participate in discussions, and write and revise work on a weekly basis. Time: W 5:30-8:10