Fall 2009 Creative Writing Courses

English 010.301 Creative Writing: Fiction and Poetry Lynn Levin W 2:00-5:00
English 010.302 Creative Writing: The Art of Narrative Nonfiction Jay Kirk T 1:30-4:30
English 112.301 Fiction Writing Workshop Max Apple T 1:30-4:30
English 113.301 Poetry Writing Workshop Deborah Burnham TR 10:30-12:00
English 115.301 Advanced Fiction Writing Karen Rile M 2:00-5:00
English 115.601 Advanced Fiction Writing Kathryn Watterson T 5:30-8:30
English 116.401 Screenwriting Kathleen DeMarco T 1:30-4:30
English 117.301 The Arts and Popular Culture Anthony DeCurtis R 1:30-4:30
English 121.601 Writing for Children Melissa Jensen M 5:30-8:30
English 123.301 Advanced Writing for Children Elizabeth Van Doren R 1:30-4:30
English 130.401 Advanced Screenwriting Kathleen DeMarco M 2:00-5:00
English 130.402 Advanced Screenwriting Andy Wolk F 2:00-5:00
English 135.301 Creative Nonfiction Writing Max Apple R 1:30-4:30
English 135.302 Creative Nonfiction: Writing Your Travels Marion Kant M 2:00-5:00
English 135.401 Peer Tutoring Valerie Ross TR 10:30-12:00
English 145.301 Advanced Nonfiction Writing Beth Kephart M 2:00-5:00
English 145.302 Advanced Non-Fiction Writing Lise Funderburg R 1:30-4:30
English 157.301 Introduction to Journalistic Writing Rick Nichols R 1:30-4:30
English 158.301 Advanced Journalistic Writing Dick Polman W 2:00-5:00
English 158.302 Advanced Journalistic Writing: Focusing on the Impact
of Science upon Society
Peter Tarr W 2:00-5:00
English 161.301 The Art of the Profile Dick Polman M 2:00-5:00
English 165.301 Writing Through Art and Literature: Transcribing the Wor(l)d Kenny Goldsmith W 2:00-5:00
English 415.640 Ut Pictura Poesis (As is Painting, so is poetry) Rebekah Zhuraw T 5:30-8:10
English 415.641 Research for Writers Meredith Broussard T 5:30-8:10

Descriptions

English 010.301
Creative Writing: Fiction and Poetry
Levin
W 2:00-5:00

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.

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English 010.302
Creative Writing: The Art of Narrative Fiction
Kirk
T 1:30-4:30

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.

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English 112.301
Fiction Writing Workshop
Apple
T 1:30-4:30

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: maxapple1@comcast.net. Permit from the instructor is required.

English 113.301
Poetry Workshop
Burnham
T 1:30-4:30

In English 113, you will learn to read and to write poetry. We will read, slowly and carefully, a range of poems from John Donne to Mark Doty, concentrating on William Butler Yeats, Elizabeth Bishop and several contemporary poets. Reading and writing assignments will focus on the uses of metaphor and meter. Much of our attention at first will be on formal poetry, both canonical and contemporary; we will also read and write poems in freer and experimental modes. The class will be conducted as a workshop.Please direct any questions to Deborah Burnham at dburnham@english.upenn.edu

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English 115.301
Advanced Fiction Writing
Rile
M 2:00-5:00

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 krile@writing.upenn.edu.

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English 115.601
Advanced Fiction Writing
Watterson
T 5:30-8:30

This workshop will explore the elements of fiction, from the 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. 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.

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English 116.401
Screenwriting
DeMarco
T 1:30-4:30

This is a workshop-style course for those who have thought they had a terrific idea for a movie but didn't know where to begin. The class will focus on learning the basic tenets of classical dramatic structure and how this (ideally) will serve as the backbone for the screenplay of the aforementioned terrific idea. Each student should, by the end of the semester, have at least thirty pages of a screenplay completed. Classic and not-so-classic screenplays will be required reading for every class, and students will also become acquainted with how the business of selling and producing one's screenplay actually happens. Students will be admitted on the basis of an application by email briefly describing their interest in the course to kathydemarco@writing.upenn.eduPermit from the instructor is required.

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English 117.301
The Arts and Popular Culture
DeCurtis
R 1:30-4:30

"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 email as soon as possible one or two samples of their best prose to Anthony DeCurtis at ADeCurtis@aol.com. 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, undergraduate class, and the telephone number where you can be reached. Permit from the instructor is required.

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English 121.601
Writing for Children
Jensen
M 5:30-8:30

Maybe it was the young wizard, or the noble vampire, but however it started, something big has happened with young people and books. In this course, we will explore the growing world of Young Adult fiction. Students will develop their own projects: honing their voice, creating believable plot, characters, and language, all directed at adolescent and teen readers. We will examine subgenres: Fantasy, Historical, and Romantic. We will read established works and discuss what makes a successful Young Adult novel. Students will be expected to complete a series of weekly writing exercises, and to discuss them in class. These will include both themed assignments from the instructor and portions of their final project. By the end of the term, students will have completed a minimum of three chapters (or approximately fifty pages) and a comprehensive outline of their novel.

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English 123.301
Advanced Writing for Children
Van Doren
R 1:30-4:30

ADVANCED WRITING FOR CHILDREN This is a course for students who have completed either English 121 or at least one other creative writing class. We will focus on writing novels for children – from early chapter books to older teen fiction—and the importance of creating compelling characters, a good plot, excellent pacing, a distinctive voice, and an appropriate theme with the goal of each student refining an existing project or beginning work on a new one. There will be at least one reading and one writing assignment each week. Exercises will include studies in voice, point of view, plot development, humor, description, developing a fantasy world, writing historical fiction, and memoir. At the end of the semester each student will have completed a minimum of 60 pages of a novel for young readers. In addition, class work will include reading wide variety of published children’s fiction, from young chapter books to older teen novels, as examples of the genre. Students will be admitted on the basis of an application by email that includes a brief description of their interest in the course and a writing sample of no more than five to ten pages. mingo@writing.upenn.edu.

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English 130.401
Advanced Screenwriting
DeMarco
M 2:00-5:00

This is a workshop-style course for students who have completed a screenwriting class, or have a draft of a screenplay they wish to improve. Classes will consist of discussing student's work, as well as discussing relevant themes of the movie business and examining classic films and why they work as well as they do.

Classic and not-so-classic screenplays will be required reading for every class in addition to some potentially useful texts like What Makes Sammy Run? Students will be admitted on the basis of an application by email.

Please send a writing sample (in screenplay form), a brief description of your interest in the course and your goals for your screenplay, and any relevant background or experience. Applications should be sent to kathydemarco@writing.upenn.edu.

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English 130.402
Advanced Screenwriting
Wolk
F 2:00-5:00

The Creative Writing Program in the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing (CPCW) and the Cinema Studies Program are co-sponsoring a Fall 2007 advanced screenwriting workshop to be taught by screenwriter/director ANDY WOLK. Students will develop a screenplay in the course which will focus on the nuts-and-bolts of structure, plot, character and dialogue and how a story is told visually. This course offered as part of the Avnet Advanced Screenwriting Project.

Wolk has written screenplays for every studio, and teleplays and pilots for every network including HBO'S Emmy-winning FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON. He received the Writer's Guild Award for NATICA JACKSON starring Michelle Pfeiffer and was nominated for the Award for the movies CRIMINAL JUSTICE and DELIBERATE INTENT, each of which he also directed along with episodes of many shows including THE SOPRANOS, WITHOUT A TRACE and THE PRACTICE. He has served as a Creative Advisor and Artistic Director of the Sundance Institute's Screenwriting Labs.

Wolk lives and works in Los Angeles. He will make at least three extended visits to Penn. Students must be available for meetings on Thursday evening, all day Friday, and Saturday morning during these three periods which are tentatively set for:

September 10-12
October 22-24
November 19-21.

When Mr. Wolk is not at Penn, the class will meet Fridays with his teaching assistant and will confer with Mr. Wolk by phone/conference call. Mr. Wolk will also work individually with each student by email and phone.

Students will be admitted to this course by permission of the instructor. Applications should be sent to Mingo Reynolds at: mingo@writing.upenn.edu

The deadline for submitting applications is Monday, March 24. Students will be notified of their status by April 4. Applications should include: a short note describing your interest and relevant experience (coursework and otherwise) and a brief (8 pages max.) sample of your writing. Those with resumes can send one also, but it is not required.

This is the sixth in a series of advanced screenwriting courses offered by eminent working screenwriters through a collaboration of Cinema Studies and Creative Writing. Generous funding for this project has been provided by Jon Avnet (C'71).

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English 135.301
Creative Non-fiction Writing
Apple
R 1:30-4:30

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.

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English 135.302
Creative Non-fiction Writing
Kant
M 2:00-5:00

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).

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English 135.401
Peer Turoring
Ross
TR 10:30-12:00

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 five short papers, eight one-page peer reviews, and two responses to readings. Additionally, students keep a journal and give two class presentations. CWIC-affiliated course.

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English 145.301
Advanced Non-fiction Writing
Kephart
M 2:00-5:00

“Maybe the best we can do is leave ourselves unprotected…” the poet-novelist Forrest Gander has written. “To approach each other and the world with as much vulnerability as we can possibly sustain.” In this advanced nonfiction workshop, we will seek, and leverage, exposure. We’ll be reading writers contemplating writing—Natalia Ginzburg, Larry Woiwode, Vivian Gornick, Terrence des Pres, Annie Dillard. We’ll be reading writers writing their own lives—Gretel Ehrlich, Anthony Doerr, Stanley Kunitz, Brooks Hansen, Jean-Dominique Bauby—as well as writers writing the lives of others—Frederick Busch on Terrence des Pres, for example, Patricia Hampl on her parents, Michael Ondaatje on the utterly cinematic characters of his childhood. The point will be to get close to the bone of things. Students should be prepared to craft and to workshop six new short pieces of analysis, memoir, and literary reportage each.

Those interested in taking the course should submit as soon as possible one sample of their best prose via email to Greg Djanikian at djanikia@writing.upenn.edu. Permit is required by the instructor.

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English 145.302
Advanced Non-fiction Writing
Funderburg
R 1:30-4:30

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. Email a sample of your work to lf@lisefunderburg.com. Permit from the instructor is required.

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English 157.301
Introduction to Journalistic Writing
Nichols
R 1:30-4:30

This class will focus on the meat and potatoes of journalism - how to identify, report and write clear and effective news stories. How do you decide what the story is? How do you structure it? How do you frame questions? How do you know what to leave out? How do you know what's fair? We will cover the building blocks, then write profiles and features, as well as columns, commentary and opinion pieces. This is a newswriting exercise at heart. But its lessons are not limited to old-school newspapering: They can be applied to journalism whatever its form, and in fields far beyond - anywhere, in fact, where keen observation, concise expression and vivid language are of the essence.

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English 158.301
Advanced Journalistic Writing
Polman
W 2:00-5:00

This is a how-to course for talented aspiring writers--how to write well in the real world; how to hook the reader and sustain interest; how to develop the journalistic skills that enable a writer to gather, sift and report information. The instructor will share his own real-world experience, as a full-time working journalist for the past three decades. He will be joined on occasion by eminent journalists- including several star journalists from the New York Times--who will address the class and appear at mandatory forums to be held at the Kelly Writers House.

Even though students will read and critique some famous practitioners of non-fiction writing-among them, Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, Michael Herr, Truman Capote and Richard Ben Cramer--along with contemporary newspaper storytellers that include the instructor (a national correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer), the emphasis will be on the students' own writing.

The goal is to inspire students to tap their own potential, gain fresh insights, and feel comfortable enough to share their assigned work-both short and long pieces-with others in the class over the span of the semester. Students will write all kinds of non-fiction pieces, from personal memoirs to long-form features about anything from the Philadelphia scene to campus issues and events. The topics are less important than the craftsmanship; anything can be a great read if it's written and reported well.,P. Journalistic issues, both practical and ethical, will also be addressed--among them: how to decide who to interview, and how to handle an interviewee; how to use (and not use) the Internet; when to use (or not use) anonymous sources.

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English 158.302
Advanced Journalistic Writing: Focusing on the Impact of Science upon Society
Tarr
W 2:00-5:00

Exactly half a century ago, a well respected British scientist who was also a man of letters gave a lecture that still reverberates. C. P. Snow's "The Two Cultures" evoked a dangerous split between scientific and literary cultures. At the height of the Cold War, this spectacular failure to communicate seemed to Snow to threaten Western preeminence. Two decades after communism's collapse, the "two cultures" thesis remains pertinent, albeit in dramatically new contexts. An entirely new era of biomedicine and biotechnology has dawned, but not, by any accounting, an equally new biopolitics or bioethics. Personalized genomes, stem cell research, synthetic life forms, biomimetics, and a host of other technologies place the state of the art far out ahead of popular understanding, and its ethical implications have not been adequately explored either by scientists or those who hold political power. In other realms, the science/society point of intersection is no better charted: the impact of digitization on reading habits and the future of libraries and "old media" (newspapers and magazines); implications of devoting food crops to biofuels; the role of expertise in the adjudication of policy debates on global warming; “geoengineering” and the management of planetary resources in a world still riven by nationalism.

In our writing workshop, we will focus on producing an extended journalistic work of publication quality that probes some aspect of the often uneasy interface between science or scientific ideas and social and political issues. As in the companion version of the course given in the Spring, this section will devote considerable attention to the problem lay writers face in building relationships with scientists. Each student will be responsible for devising a realistic strategy for reporting a story of their own choosing whose writing will occupy about half the term.

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English 161.301
The Art of the Profile
Polman
M 2:00-5:00

One of the toughest challenges for any journalist is to master the art of profile-writing. In this new course, students will read and critique some of the classic profile articles of the past 40 years, and, most importantly, write profile articles of their own. Writing about people is often very rewarding, but rarely easy. In this course, students will debate the questions that have plagued and energized journalists for generations: How do you persuade somebody that he or she is a worthy topic for a profile? How do you ask sensitive questions? If the person is a celebrity, how do you avoid being manipulated into writing a "puff piece"? Do you tape the interviews or just take notes? How do you structure a profile in order to keep the reader's attention? Is it even possible to capture the essence of a person on the written page? Are you a friend to the profile subject - or a manipulator? A journalist at The New Yorker recently said that a writer's relationship with the profile subject is "a kind of love affair." On the other hand, a famous author once said that a profile writer is typically "gaining their trust and betraying without remorse." Which is closer to the truth? Students, in addition to writing their own profiles, will kick around these questions while reading some of the best contemporary profile writers, including Susan Orlean, Gay Talese, David Remnick, Mark Bowden, and Judy Bachrach. The instructor will also offer several of his own.

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English 165.301
Writing Through Art and Literature: Transcribing the Wor(l)d
Goldsmith
W 2:00-5:00

"Everyone, absolutely everyone, was tape-recording everyone else. Machinery had already taken over people's sex lives--dildos and all kinds of vibrators--and now it was taking over their social lives, too, with tape recorders and Polaroids. The running joke between Brigid and me was that all our phone calls started with whoever'd been called by the other saying, "Hello, wait a minute," and running to plug in and hook up. I'd provoke any kind of hysteria I could think of on the phone just to get myself a good tape. Since I wasn't going out much and was home a lot on the mornings and evenings, I put in a lot of time on the phone gossiping and making trouble and getting ideas from people and trying to figure out what was happening--and taping it all." -- Andy Warhol

From Andy Warhol's diaristic tape recordings documenting his life to Francis Ford Coppola's 1974 mystery thriller about audio surveillance, The Conversation, audio archiving and its subsequent manipulations have left an enormous legacy across the arts. Beginning with ethereal radio transmissions in the late nineteenth century and increasing after World War II with the widespread use of home tape-recorders, artists began incorporating the sounds of language and everyday life into their works and using them as the basis for their art works. Today, with digital technology, these impulses to record, archive and manipulate sound have only increased, as have their distribution networks: thanks to file-sharing and laptop-based software, audio works are now able to be instantly disseminated on a global scale.

We'll be listening to and exploring the depths of the manipulated voice beginning with 78 RPM recordings of séances through the more recent spate of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) -- spirits conducted by radio waves -- researchers: Raymond Cass and Dr. Konstanin Raudive. From there, it's a short leap to the Musique concrète composers of the 1950s, who used the human voice as the basis for many of their electronic compositions, which inspired everyone from The Beatles and John Oswald's Plunderphonics to mash-up artists such as Danger Mouse. We'll dip into theatre and explore the uses of the recorded voice in the works of Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape and Jean Cocteau's telephone-driven La Voix Humaine. In literature, we'll read the speech-driven works of Ezra Pound (as well as his notorious WWII pro-Axis shortwave radio broadcasts) and Frank O'Hara's everyday-language based poems; moving forward we'll read and listen to David Antin's tape-recorded transcribed "talk poems." The visual arts are chock-full of audio manipulations, including Richard Serra's time-delayed 70s videotape "Boomerang" and Michael Snow's radio manipulations "Short Wavelength." And digital technology has inspired younger practitioners to extend this tradition as in Kalup Linzy's satirical narratives inspired by television soap operas, telenovelas and Hollywood melodramas; or the young Philadelphia-based video artist Ryan Trecartin, who merges sophisticated digital manipulations with footage from the Internet and pop culture, animations, and wildly stylized sets and performances.

This year-long creative writing class, given as a collaboration of CPCW and the ICA, will use the above works as a basis to inspire a wide variety of written, spoken, and recorded works by participating students. Students will be encouraged to develop correspondent methods of responding to the ICA's exhibitions, specifically in conjunction with an exhibition which explores the manipulated voice in recordings and soundworks. The class will involve monthly trips to New York City to attend concerts, museums and lectures. The students will have access to the most cutting-edge artists today via class visits and studio visits. English 165 will culminate in a publication co-sponsored by the ICA and CPCW.

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English 415.640
Ut Pictura Poesis(As is painting, so is poetry)
Zhuraw
W 5:30-8:10

Images and the figures of speech called imagery bring language to life and abstract ideas to light in the mind. They are what create the physical world of fiction and convey the subjective realities of poems and the arguments of essays. In this workshop we will explore the intersection between writing and the visual arts suggested by Simonides de Keos in the 5th century B.C.E. ("Poetry is a speaking picture, painting a silent poetry") and echoed above in Horace's famous dictum. We will look at some of the theory behind the "sister arts" and the two forms of description which unite them: literal and figurative. Mostly we will examine and play with the language of images and the transfer of categories of meaning which metaphor and its attendant likenesses govern, along with the image's great project: animation--the ultimate sense of the real. We will read poems, stories, portions of plays, and essays by writers as diverse as Seamus Heaney, Kate Chopin, Milan Kundera, Annie Dillard, Yusef Komunyakka, Shakespeare, Susan Sontag, and Susun Minot. Students will write weekly and participate in weekly peer review. Revision is expected. This is a workshop that will teach writers of all genres to write persuasively and evocatively.

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English 415.641
Research for Writers
Broussard
T 5:30-8:10

Writers are nosy. We want to know what happened, and then we want to know why, and how, and where, and what it smelled like. Good writing demands details. Finding these details… well, that can be the fun part. Research for writers involves poking through archives, asking people for stories, and looking at alternate interpretations of historical events. It involves answering all kinds of questions for ourselves and our readers: If W.E.B DuBois were a character in a short story, what would he wear? On Juneteenth, what was the weather like in Beaumont? Can a sonnet be biographical, and if so are the facts correct? In this class, you will learn the research methods employed by scholars, journalists, and super-sleuths. The class is intended for poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers, though journalists and documentary filmmakers may apply. We will read writers like Zora Neale Hurston, Marilyn Nelson, and Colson Whitehead to examine how writers use research in their work; we will talk to oral historians, archivists, and museum curators about how to mine the past for ideas. Be prepared to choose a topic early in the semester and research it thoroughly. Your final project, a creative piece in your choice of genre, will be informed by your discoveries.

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