Fall 2005 Creative Writing CoursesEnglish 010.301Creative Writing: The Art of Narrative Nonfiction Jay Kirk T 1:30-4:30
English 010.302Creative Writing: Fiction and Poetry Lynn Levin W 2:00-5:00
English 112.301 Fiction Writing Workshop Max Apple T 1:30-4:30
English 112.302 Fiction Writing Workshop Albert DiBartolomeo R 1:30-4:30
English 113.301 Poetry Writing Workshop Gregory Djanikian T 1:30-4:30
English 115.301 Advanced Fiction Writing Karen Rile W 2:00-5:00
English 116.401 Screenwriting Marc Lapadula M 2:00-5:00
English 117.301 The Arts and Popular Culture Anthony DeCurtis R 1:30-4:30
English 130.401 Advanced Screenwriting Marc Lapadula M 5:00-8:00
English 135.301 Creative Nonfiction Writing Max Apple R 1:30-4:30
English 135.302 Creative Nonfiction Writing Lise Funderburg W 2:00-5:00
English 135.303 Creative Nonfiction: Travel Writing Marion Kant M 2:00-5:00
English 135.601 Creative Nonfiction Writing Robert Strauss M 5:00-8:00
English 145.301 Advanced Nonfiction Writing Paul Hendrickson T 1:30-4:30
English 145.302 Advanced Nonfiction Writing Robert Strauss M 2:00-5:00
English 156.301 The Hungry Eye: Telling Stories Out of Photographs Paul Hendrickson W 2:00-5:00
English 165.301 Writing Through Culture and Art Kenneth Goldsmith R 1:30-4:30
English 412.640 Fiction Writing Workshop Kitsi Watterson R 5:30-8:10
English 010.301 Creative Writing: The Art of Narrative Nonfiction Kirk This writing workshop emphasizes creative nonfiction but makes room for fiction as well, since both genres share in common the elements of the narrative story. In creative nonfiction--as with fiction--we employ plot, character, dialogue and vivid description to draw the reader into our imaginative worlds. In addition to the personal essay, students are encouraged to explore other cross-genre forms such as the "reported" essay and the nonfiction short story. In this class we will learn how to take the raw material of real life and reshape it dramatically.
Since this class is a "live" workshop, active participation and regular attendance are critical. Students will critique each other's writing, read assigned works of contemporary (and classic) creative nonfiction, and discuss technique, research, and the marriage of journalism and literary ambition. Students are expected to complete a 12 - 15 page manuscript by the end of the semester.
Time: T 1:30-4:30
English 010.302 Creative Writing: Fiction and Poetry Levin This workshop-style class is an introduction to the pleasures of the writing process. Students will benefit from in-depth readings and constructive critical support in a class that fosters a community of writers. We will spend half the semester writing poems, and the other half writing fiction. Some of each meeting will be devoted to reading poems or a short story by established authors, with the emphasis on reading as writers rather than scholars. Experimentation and revision will be encouraged. Class participation and attendance are vital. We will have some brief in-class writing exercises and a variety of take-home assignments designed to help students generate and shape work. Students will turn in a final portfolio of 15 or so pages, which will include both poetry and prose. We will also write some brief (up to one page) responses to work read and written in class.
Poetry: Contemporary American Poetry, ed. R. S. Gwynn and April Lindner
Fiction (tbd): The Bridegroom by Ha Jin or The Middleman and Other Stories by Bharati Mukherjee
Time: W 2:00-5:00
English 112.301 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Time: T 1:30-4:30
English 112.302 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. Permission required: please email a sample of your work directly to email@example.com.
Class participation is vital and expected.
Time: R 1:30-4:30
English 113.301 Poetry Writing Workshop Djanikian A course for students who have had some experience writing poetry but who wish to improve the rhythm and expressiveness of their language, and who may want to see the things of this world in new relationships and, perhaps, with a broader vision. Students will be asked to write every week, and to discuss and respond to the works of classmates and established poets. A final portfolio of revised poems will be required at the end of the course. Students interested in taking the class should submit three poems to Greg Djanikian via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Permit is required from the instructor. Time: T 1:30-4:30
English 115.301 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 directly to me at email@example.com.
Time: W 2:00-5:00
English 116.401 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, 3600 Market St. Suite 501A. 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 117.301 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, 3600 Market St., Suite 501A. 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 130.401 Advanced Screenwriting Lapadula An intensive workshop focusing on methodology: enhancing original characterization, plot development, conflict, story, pacing, dramatic foreshadowing, the element of surprise, text and subtext, act structure and visual storytelling. Each student is expected to present sections of his/her "screenplay-in-progress" to the class for discussion. The screenplay Chinatown will be used as a basic text. Time: M 5:00-8:00
English 135.301 Creative Nonfiction 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 135.302 Creative Nonfiction 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.
Time: W 2:00-5:00
English 135.303 Creative Nonfiction: Travel Writing Kant In this course students will learn to observe and record what they see when they travel. They will explore a popular form of writing and practice it in their own daily activities. The familiar will become strange and new as they return home, walk through the campus, visit Center City or explore an ethnic community in order to write accounts of what they see. They will, in the process, learn about themselves but without that preoccupation with the self alone that marks much student writing. They will see themselves in the mirror of "the other". The course will explore famous works by travelers who visited the USA as a means to see the familiar through foreign eyes, such works as Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" (1835), Charles Dickens' "On America and the Americans" (ed. Michael Slater), G.K. Chesterton's "What I Saw in America" (1922). Jonathan Raban's "Old Glory: An American Voyage" (1981) and the expatriate who returns like Bill Bryson's "I am a Stranger here myself: Notes on returning to America after twenty years" (1999). Time: M 2:00-5:00
English 135.601 Creative Nonfiction 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 145.301 Advanced Nonfiction 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, 3600 Market St. Suite 501A. 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 145.302 Advanced Nonfiction 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. Permission is required. Please email a sample of your writing to firstname.lastname@example.org
Time: M 2:00-5:00
English 156.301 The Hungry Eye: Telling Stories Out of Photographs Hendrickson A new creative writing course built entirely around the use of photographs, and the crafting of compelling nonfiction narratives from them. The essential concept will be to employ photographs as storytelling vehicles. So we will be using curling, drugstore-printed Kodak shots from our own family albums. We will be using searing and famous images from history books. We will be taking things from yesterday's newspaper. We will even be using pictures that were just made by the workshop participants outside the campus gates with a disposable camera from CVS or with their own sophisticated digital Nikon. In all of this, there will be one overriding aim: to achieve memorable, full-bodied stories. To locate the strange, evocative, storytelling universes that are sealed inside the four rectangular walls of a photograph. They are always there, if you know how to look. It's about the quality of your noticing, the intensity of your seeing.
Writers as diverse as the poet Mark Strand and the novelist Don DeLillo and the memoirist Wright Morris have long recognized the power of a photograph to launch a story. In this course we are going to employ memory and imagination to launch our stories, but most of all we are going to make use of fact-everything that can be found out, gleaned, uncovered, dug up, stumbled upon. Because first and last, this is nonfiction, this is the art of reported fact. So a lot of this class will go forward using the tools and techniques of journalism: good, old-fashioned reporting and research, legwork. And turning that reporting into writing gold.
A photograph represents time stopped in a box. It is a kind of freeze-frame of eternity. It is stopped motion, in which the clock has seemed to hold its breath. Often, the stories inside of photographs turn out to be at surprising odds with what we otherwise thought, felt, imagined.
Say, for instance, that you hunger to enter the photographic heart of this youthful, handsome, dark-haired man-who is your father-as he leans now against the gleaming bumper of a 1951 Pontiac. It was three decades before you were born. The moment is long buried and forgotten in your collective family's past-and yet in another way, it is right here before you, on this photosensitive surface. Whether the figure in the photograph is alive or deceased, you are now going to try with all of your writing and reporting might to "walk back in." Almost literally. You are going to achieve a story about this moment, with a beginning, middle, and end.
"Every great photograph has a secret," a noted critic once said. An essayist for Time magazine once wrote: "All great photographs have lives of their own. But sometimes they can be false as dreams."
Candidates for the course are asked to submit as soon as possible one or two samples of their best creative nonfiction prose. Paper copies only, no electronic submissions. Give them to the department administrative assistants (3600 Market Street, Suite 501A) who will then get them to the instructor. Be sure to include name, phone number, email address, the last four digits of your social security number.
Time: W 2:00-5:00
English 165.301 Writing Through Culture and Art Goldsmith This year-long seminar will explore the intersections of several modes of writing -- critical (evaluative), creative, functional -- that pertain to the world of contemporary art and culture. In the first semester the students will study modes of writing that related to art: art-historical writing, art-critical writing, literary and especially experimental writing, functional writing (e.g. the press release, the artist's statement, grant writing). And students will keep some sort of journal or account of their own writing in response to visits to galleries, installations, performances, films, dance, theatre, etc. In the second semester, students will begin to work closely with the ICA's professional design staff on a publication project that will be created and designed to highlight the varieties of ways in which writers-about-art do their work. The working thesis serving as the basis of this magazine project is: Culture can be known through art, and perhaps vice versa; and writing is the conduit to this knowledge. The purpose of the course itself is to teach the diversity of ways people write about art and to underscore the idea that even the most experimental or "difficult" art is not separate from culture. (The course will continue, as English 166, in the spring semester of 2006--meeting at the same time and place.)
Students will receive a grade at the end of each semester. Those interested in taking the course should email Kenny Goldsmith (kg at ubu dot com) a one- or two-paragraph statement describing why they want to be involved in this project and what academic (or perhaps non-academic) experience makes them especially eligible. Enrollment is by permission of the instructor.
Time: R 1:30-4:30
English 412.640 Fiction Writing Workshop Watterson This workshop will help both new and experienced writers dig for the layers of experience buried in their own stories and uncovered through exercises that tap memory, imagination and visualization. We will explore the elements of fiction, from a focus on details to reveal the larger world of the story, to character development, dialogue, point of view, style and voice. We will mine a deeper understanding of the craft by reading short stories and excerpts from a wide range of writers, including Raymond Carver, John Edgar Wideman, Robertson Davies, Flannery O’Conner and Ursula Hegi. In addition to in-class writing, students will be asked to maintain writing journals, participate in workshop discussions and peer review, and write and revise work on a weekly basis.
Time: R 5:30-8:10