Spring 2013 Creative Writing Courses

English 010.301 Writing the Personal Essay, Writing Fiction Sam Apple R 1:30-4:30
English 010.302 Journalism and Memoir Jamie-Lee Josselyn M 2:00-5:00
English 010.303 Creative Writing: Fiction and Poetry Lynn Levin W 2:00-5:00
English 010.601 Creative Writing: Writing at the Borders Katie Price R 5:30-8:30
English 111.301 Experimental Writing Ron Silliman T 1:30-4:30
English 112.301 Fiction Writing Workshop Karen Rile M 2:00-5:00
English 114.401 Playwriting Jackie Goldfinger M 2:00-5:00
English 115.301 Advanced Fiction Writing Max Apple T 1:30-4:30
English 115.302 Advanced Fiction Writing Lorene Cary M 2:00-5:00
English 116.401 Screenwriting Kathleen DeMarco Van Cleve M 2:00-5:00
English 116.402 Screenwriting Keir Politz R 4:30-7:30
English 116.403 Screenwriting Keir Politz T 4:30-7:30
English 117.301 The Arts and Popular Culture Anthony DeCurtis R 1:30-4:30
English 119.301 Art Reviewing and Criticism Susan Bee W 2:00-5:00
English 130.401 Advanced Screenwriting Kathleen DeMarco Van Cleve W 2:00-5:00
English 130.402 Comedic Writing Lew Schneider F 2:00-5:00
English 135.301 Creative Nonfiction Writing Lorene Cary W 2:00-5:00
English 135.302 Creative Nonfiction Writing Beth Kephart T 1:30-4:30
English 135.401 Peer Tutoring Valerie Ross TR 10:30-12:00
English 135.601 Creative Nonfiction Writing Meredith Broussard T 5:30-8:30
English 145.301 Advanced Nonfiction Writing Paul Hendrickson T 1:30-4:30
English 145.302 Advanced Nonfiction Writing Lise Funderburg W 2:00-5:00
English 145.601 The Art of the Personal Essay Kathryn Watterson T 5:30-8:30
English 155.301 Documentary Writing Paul Hendrickson W 2:00-5:00
English 158.301 Global Journalism: Writing Across Cultures Peter Tarr W 2:00-5:00
English 160.301 Long-Form Journalistic Writing Dick Polman M 2:00-5:00
English 161.301 The Art of the Profile Dick Polman W 2:00-5:00
English 170.301 Advanced Writing Projects in Art and Popular Culture Anthony DeCurtis F 2:00-5:00
English 410.640 Creative Writing: Fiction and Poetry Lynn Levin T 5:30-8:10
English 412.640 Writing in the Moment: A Writing Workshop Kathryn Watterson W 5:30-8:10

Descriptions

English 010.301
Creative Writing: Writing the Personal Essay, Writing Fiction
S. Apple
R 1:30-4:30

In this workshop-style class we'll focus on the personal essay for the first half of the semester and then move on to fiction. In addition to writing and critiquing essays and stories, we'll read and discuss a wide range of work from both established masters and emerging young writers. Several of the authors we read will make guest appearances (in-person and via video) to discuss their work and answer student questions.

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English 010.302
Creative Writing: Journalism and Memoir
Josselyn
M 2:00-5:00

This interactive workshop will focus on the way a writer constructs characters in journalistic profiles, memoirs and personal essays. Students will examine – through their own work and others’ – how nonfiction writers must shape information to render people on the page in a way that is accurate, honest, and engaging.

Much of this workshop will be spent on the “I” character. How do we portray ourselves, both when we’re at the center of our stories and when we’re on the edges looking in? How do we decide what to include and how do we justify what we exclude? We will look to the writers Joan Didion, Phillip Lopate and others for help when we need it.

The majority of class time will be spent discussing student work. Revision will be essential. An email listserv will be used to discuss readings and other topics. In addition to writing assignments throughout the semester, students will complete a final portfolio of approximately fifteen pages of revised work.

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English 010.303
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 010.601
Creative Writing: Writing at the Borders
Price
R 5:30-8:30

"Wherever there are borders there is barbarism."So wrote contemporary poet Lyn Hejinian, meaning that borders are zones of encounter, places where everyone is a foreigner. In this course, you will be encouraged to become a foreigner in your own writing by exploring the borders between genres (fiction, poetry, non-fiction), individual/collaborative authorship, print/digital writing, English/other languages, and art/science. Through a series of creative writing assignments that focus on exploring these boundaries, this course will require you to take intellectual and creative risks. In addition to reading and responding to your peers' work, you will be introduced to the work of practicing writers who disrupt boundary distinctions. Course requirements will include active participation, written responses to your peers' work, and a final portfolio or project.

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English 111.301
Experimental Writing
Silliman
T 1:30-4:30

This is a poetry (maybe even a post-poetry) writing workshop that will focus on the question of change: how poetry responds to change in the world; how poetry itself changes; how to create poetry that is open to (and potentially incites, creates, triggers) transformation and change. Classes will look at the history of poetry since the Second World War, at the dynamics of change and meaning, and at the writing of students themselves. Students will be actively involved in teaching portions of the class and will produce work toward a project due at the end of the semester: chapbook, website, performance, installation, tattoos, whatever. There are only two texts required: Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. But there will be extensive reading online, and some recommended reading as well. Send a brief email stating why you wish to attend the workshop (writing samples not required) to rsillima@yahoo.com Put the title EXPERIMENTAL WRITING all in caps in the subject line of the email.

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English 112.301
Fiction Workshop
Rile
M 2:00-5:00

This class is a workshop, which means that most of what you produce will be considered work-in-progress, and that your active participation is essential. Come prepared to roll up your sleeves and work!

Each week will bring a new technical topic and a writing prompt designed to illuminate it. You will write every week and present your writing to the workshop for group critique many times throughout the semester. Readings from selected contemporary short stories will be discussed over the class email list and, as necessary, during class. In addition toassigned writing prompts, each student writer will have at least one opportunity to present a complete, independently-conceived short story to the workshop for detailed critique.

The most important reading assignments will be the work submitted by your fellow students. In this course, the thoughtfulness and thoroughness of your criticism is as crucial as the quality of the written work you produce.

Admission to this class is by instructor permit. Please email work samples to: krile@writing.upenn.edu.

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English 114.401
Poetry Workshop
Jackie Goldfinger
M 2:00-5:00

This course is designed as a hands-on workshop in the art and craft of dramatic writing. It involves the study of existing plays, the systematic exploration of such elements as storymaking, plot, structure, theme, character, dialogue, setting, etc.; and most importantly, the development of students' own plays through a series of written assignments and in-class exercises. Since a great deal of this work takes place in class -- through lectures, discussions, spontaneous writing exercises, and the reading of student work -- weekly attendance and active participation is crucial.

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English 115.301
Advanced Fiction Writing
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 active class participation are essential. Please submit a brief writing sample to: maxapple1@verizon.net

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English 115.302
Advanced Fiction Writing
Cary
M 2:00-5:00

This is a workshop in which students will be required to write forty pages of fiction--short stories or the beginning of a novel or a novella--and submit some part of it for publication. Through first drafts and much rewriting, students will learn techniques for plotting, building characters and how to avoid common errors. Through discussion of each others' work, students will help one another learn how to accomplish the two phases of creating serious fiction: the deep, almost abandoned, involvement in turning experience into words, followed by a more distanced and objective evaluating and revising. Students interested in the course should submit writing samples to Lorene Cary at lorene.cary@gmail.com

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English 116.401
Screenwriting
DeMarco
M 2:00-5:00

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 116.402
Screenwriting
Politz
R 4:30-7:30

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 kpolitz@gmail.com Permit from the instructor is required.

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English 116.403
Screenwriting
Politz
T 4:30-7:30

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 kpolitz@gmail.com Permit from the instructor is required.

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

This 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 piece 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 comedian.

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English 119.301
Art Reviewing and Criticism
Bee
W 2:00-5:00

This is a workshop on writing about visual art. Most weeks there will be both a writing assignment and suggested reading. We will review Philadelphia area exhibitions, including shows at the Institute for Contemporary Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and galleries. We will also make some class visits to local art spaces. In the workshop, students will be able to try out different approaches to writing about art works, concentrating on various descriptive and critical approaches. The workshop will be useful to budding journalists and critics but also to visual art and art history students, who are interested in honing their writing and analytical skills. We will also discuss editing and the role of the editor in creating the final written piece. And there will be plenty of opportunities for us to talk about a wide range of contemporary visual art.

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English 130.401
Advanced Screenwriting
DeMarco Van Cleve
W 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
Comedic Writing
Schneider
F 2:00-5:00

“It’s Funny Because It’s True” (well, most of it.)
In this workshop style class students will focus on the development comedic material drawn from specific, personal experience. 
While not exclusively geared toward television or screenwriting, the course will serve as a foundation for developing comedic material which might be adapted for those genres. Students will be exposed to classic* examples of comedy writing in the form of essays, novels, and selections from television and films.
 Participants will be required to write a comedic essay, write and deliver a short stand-up routine, and to write a scene or sketch to be read aloud. Class participation and attendance are mandatory. Previous comedy experience is not, though the ability to laugh is a plus. Mr. Schneider lives and works in Los Angeles. He will make at four extended visits to Penn. Students must be available for meetings on Thursday evening, all day Friday, and Saturday morning during these four periods which are tentatively set for:

January 10-12
February 7-9
March 14-16
April 18-20

When Mr. Schneider is not at Penn, the class will meet with the teaching assistant and confer with Mr. Schneider by skype/conference call. Mr. Schneider 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 reynolds@writing.upenn.edu The deadline for submitting applications is Monday, October 15. Students will be notified of their status by October 29. 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. What sort of writing sample? Almost anything that you've enjoyed writing. If you don't have something you consider suitable, a well-constructed, amusing plea to be included in the class will suffice. Essentially, up to eight pages of anything that isn't boring will be appropriate.

Those with resumes can send one also, but it is not required.
* Who says they’re classic? I do and I’m in charge.

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English 135.301
Creative Nonfiction Writing
Cary
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 Nonfiction Writing
Kephart
T 1:30-4:30

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 creative nonfiction workshop, we will be thinking about what it means to tell our personal stories, and how that telling gets done. We’ll be reading writers contemplating the act of writing—Joan Didion, Natalia Ginzburg, Vivian Gornick, Terrence des Pres, Annie Dillard, Patricia Hampl. We’ll be reading writers writing their own lives—Michael Ondaatje, Lucy Grealy, Buzz Bissinger, Dorothy Allison, Rick Bragg, Caroline Knapp, Jean-Dominique Bauby—as well as writers reflecting on the lives of others. The point will be to get close to the bone of things. Students should be prepared to read, to reflect, to take photographs, to find stories inside music, and to write two key papers—a memoir and a narrative profile—as well as a number of small papers and in-class assignments.

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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 135.601
Creative Nonfiction Writing
Broussard
T 5:30-8:30

For many writers, inspiration comes from everyday life. In Philadelphia, we are fortunate enough to have an unparalleled bounty of inspiration around us-from our eccentric local celebrities to our world-class researchers to our rich history (zoos, ice cream and America all originated here). Students in this nonfiction writing workshop will create stories inspired by the people, the landscape, the ideas and the institutions of Philadelphia. We will discuss the ways that notable writers like Joan Didion, Calvin Trillin, Janet Malcolm and Joseph Mitchell turned everyday life into engaging narratives. As in all creative writing classes, the focus will be on creating, revising, and becoming your own best editor.

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English 145.301
Advanced Nonfiction Writing
Hendrickson
T 1:30-4:30

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 email by attachment as soon as possible one or two samples of their best prose to Paul Hendrickson at phendric@sas.upenn.edu. Also include your name, last four digits of SS#, undergraduate class, and telephone number where you can be reached. Permit is required by the instructor.

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English 145.302
Advanced Nonfiction Writing
Funderburg
W 2:00-5:00

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.

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English 145.601
The Art of the Personal Essay
Watterson
T 5:30-8:30

Our voices as writers take shape as we begin to identify the complexities of our inner landscapes, perceptions, dreams, and fears. Memory is a dynamic force, and as we grow through our lives, our relationships with the past often change. This seminar will help you tap into and write about experiences that have helped shape who you are. We will use the personal essay, a form the Handbook of Literature defines as “a kind of informal essay, with an intimate style, some autobiographical content or interest and a…. conversational manner.” Class work will include meditation, freewriting, and visualization exercises; revision, peer review and class discussions. Readings will include works by Maxine Hong Kingston, Kaye Gibbons, Jorge Luis Borges, Toni Morrison, Eudora Welty, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Joyce Carol Oates, Joan Didion and Walt Whitman. In addition to in-class writing, students will maintain a daily practice of free-writing; write reading responses to assigned books, essays, and stories; conduct interviews, do research and write and revise two to three personal essays during the semester.

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English 155.301
Documentary Writing
Hendrickson
W 2:00-5:00

This offering in advanced nonfiction writing 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 35 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.

Those interested in taking the course should email by attachment as soon as possible one or two samples of their best prose to Paul Hendrickson at phendric@sas.upenn.edu. Also include name, last four digits of SS#, undergraduate class, and telephone number where you can be reached. Permit is required by the instructor.

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English 158.301
Global Journalism: Writing Across Cultures
Tarr
W 2:00-5:00

How should we approach writing -- knowing -- about people and things that are foreign to us? It’s a question that historians, anthropologists, and sociologists ask routinely, but that most practicing journalists typically have not been trained to consider. In mainstream American journalism, international postings have long been awarded as plums to reporters who have scored major successes on domestic beats. This practice is consonant with an old journalistic shibboleth that any good reporter should be able to tell any story, anywhere, with no prior preparation or study. This course is grounded in a diametrically opposed notion: that intelligent reporting about the foreign is predicated upon self-awareness of one’s own cultural particularity and an active interest in the perspective and voice of “the other.” Students in the course will have an opportunity to write in a variety of modes -- factual reportage, op-ed, review, analysis -- about people and places that take them beyond their own immediate experience. The intent is to use reporting to enlarge the area of personal experience, thus enabling students to become more conscious of, and to move beyond, cultural assumptions, presuppositions, and prejudices. The instructor, who began a decade of international reporting as a cultural stranger among the peoples he wrote about, will draw on this formative experience in leading workshop members through their initial encounters as writers with the problem of knowing the other.

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English 160.301
Long-Form Journalism
Polman
M 2:00-5:00

This course in long-form journalism, English 160, required of all jouralistic writing minors, will focus on the most revolutionary period in contemporary journalism--the 1960s, when writers such as Tom Wolfe, Michael Herr, Gay Talese, Anthony Lukas, Norman Mailer, and Thomas B. Morgan vastly expanded the possibilities of non-fiction. Dubbed "the new journalism," its practitioners adapted certain aspects of the novel (scenes, dialogue, structure) in order to better tell true-life stories. Students in this course will read extensively, to understand how these breakthrough writers have profoundly influenced the long-form journalism of today and will be asked to write a long-form journalistic piece, using many elements of the form.

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English 161.301
The Art of the Profile
Polman
W 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 170.301
Advanced Writing Projects in Art and Popular Culture
DeCurtis
F 2:00-5:00

This advanced course in writing about the arts and popular culture is limited in enrollment (by permission of the instructor) and intended for students who wish to concentrate on specific aspects of their writing -- whether as critics, essayists or profile writers. Occasional meetings of the full group will concentrate on issues relevant to all aspects of arts-and-culture writing, while meetings with individual students will focus and help realize the larger individual projects that will constitute the course's main work. Readings for the course will be geared specifically to the interests of the students who have been selected, and will be drawn from work that is appearing at that time in journalistic publications, both in print (for example, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker) and online (Slate, Salon and sites of similar quality). Ideally, applicants will have already taken 117.301 with the instructor, but that is not a firm pre-requisite and other students should absolutely feel free to apply.

Please send an email describing your interest to ADecurtis@aol.com

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English 410.640
Creative Writing: Fiction and Poetry
Levin
T 5:30-8:10

This workshop, which understands creative writing as a serious pleasure, will devote half the semester to short stories and half to poems. You'll write a poem or (very) short story each week inspired by assigned readings by published authors, and present your work to the class for rigorous and supportive mutual critique. This workshop assumes that there are no best schools of writing, only individual works finding their best form according to their own internal logic. You'll also discuss the reading, do in-class writing experiments, and attend readings by established authors.

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English 412.640
Writing in the Moment: A Writing Workshop
Watterson
W 5:30-8:10

As writers, whether aspiring or professional, we often struggle over how to tell our stories most effectively. We focus on techniques—leads, pacing, wording, point of view, action, dialogue and plot—because we want to inspire, if not compel, our readers to stay with us from beginning to end in this dream we’re weaving with words. We search for language that that will allow the reader to visualize and experience all the nuances lurking in the details. We revise and polish. Yet more often than not, when a perfect line comes to us, when the shape of an entire novel appears, or when we hear fresh music and poetry and solutions to problems plaguing us, we say, “It sprang out of nowhere.” It came “unbidden” as we emptied the garbage, shampooed our hair, walked by the river, danced across the room or settled into sleep. In this workshop, we will tap into that “nowhere” place, that deep inner wellspring of creativity that resides within us all. By using film, literature, meditation, guided visualization, music, and a mindful practice of breathing, we will work to be in the moment and to write out of that moment. Whether writers are composing short stories or personal essays, they will find fresh ways of looking at, seeing, and opening up to their characters and their subjects. Readings will include short stories, poetry and essays. Workshop sessions will include peer responses, in-class exercises and writing.

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