Spring 2017 Creative Writing Courses

English 016.301 First-Year Seminar: Writing About Art Susan Bee R 1:30-4:30
English 010.301 Introduction to Creative Writing: Animal Tales Anna Maria Hong T 1:30-4:30
English 010.302 Introduction to Creative Writing: Writing the Personal Essay, Writing Fiction Sam Apple R 1:30-4:30
English 010.303 Introduction to Creative Writing: Poetry and Fiction Lynn Levin W 2:00-5:00
English 010.601 Introduction to Creative Writing: Fiction and Poetry Sebastian Castillo W 5:00-8:00
English 111.301 Uncreative Writing Kenneth Goldsmith R 1:30-4:30
English 112.301 Fiction Writing Workshop Carmen Machado M 2:00-5:00
English 113.301 Poetry Workshop Ron Silliman W 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 116.401 Screenwriting Kathleen DeMarco Van Cleve M 2:00-5:00
English 116.402 Screenwriting Scott Burkhardt T 4:30-7:30
English 116.403 Screenwriting Scott Burkhardt R 4:30-7:30
English 117.301 The Arts and Popular Culture: Bob Dylan Anthony DeCurtis R 1:30-4:30
English 118.301 Advanced Poetry Workshop Gregory Djanikian T 1:30-4:30
English 119.301 Writing and Performance Edwin Torres M 2:00-5:00
English 120.401 The Translation of Poetry/The Poetry of Translation Taije Silverman TR 3:00-4:30
English 121.601 The Grown-Up Art of Writing for Children Elizabeth LaBan W 4:30-7:30
English 123.401 Advanced Writing for Children Lorene Cary W 2:00-5:00
English 126.301 The Art of Editing Julia Bloch T 1:30-4:30
English 130.401 Advanced Screenwriting Kathleen DeMarco Van Cleve W 2:00-5:00
English 135.301 Creative Nonfiction Writing Beth Kephart (Sulit) T 1:30-4:30
English 135.302 Experimental Nonfiction Jay Kirk R 1:30-4:30
English 135.303 Creative Nonfiction: Writing Your Travels Marion Kant M 2:00-5:00
English 135.401 Peer Tutoring Valerie Ross, Lan Ngo TR 10:30-12:00
English 144.301 Speculative Fiction Carmen Machado TR 1:30-2:50
English 145.301 Advanced Nonfiction Writing Lise Funderburg R 1:30-4:30
English 145.601 Finding Voice: Perspectives on Race, Class & Gender Kathryn Watterson T 5:30-8:30
English 155.301 Documentary Writing Paul Hendrickson M 2:00-5:00
English 156.301 Writing from Photographs Paul Hendrickson W 2:00-5:00
English 157.301 Introduction to Science Writing Peter Tarr T 1:30-4:30
English 160.301 Long-Form Journalism Dick Polman W 2:00-5:00
English 161.301 Art of the Profile Dick Polman M 2:00-5:00
English 170.301 Advanced Writing Projects in the Arts and Popular Culture Anthony DeCurtis F 2:00-5:00
English 415.640 Creative Writing for Chemists Melissa Jensen W 5:30-8:30
English 435.640 Writing and Remembering: A Memoir Workshop Kathryn Watterson R 5:30-8:10

Descriptions

English 016.301
First-Year Seminar: Writing about Art
Susan Bee
R 1:30-4:30

This first-year creative writing seminar will engage in critical issues related to the visual arts, with a focus on writing about contemporary exhibitions. Members of the seminar will visit and review Philadelphia area exhibitions, including shows at the Institute for Contemporary Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Collection, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In addition, we will take one weekend trip to a museum in New York. We will also have a guest art critic speak to the group and we will visit a local artist’s studio. In the seminar, students will be able to practice different descriptive and critical approaches to writing about art works. There will be ample time given to in-depth discussions of a wide range of contemporary visual art.

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English 010.301
Introduction to Creative Writing: Animal Tales
Anna Maria Hong
T 1:30-4:30

This course provides an introduction to creative writing in multiple genres. You will study and practice writing in a workshop atmosphere and engage in intensive reading of excellent writings focusing on the real and imagined lives of animals from ancient fables through 21st-century stories, poems, essays, and hybrid-genre works. We will follow discussions of readings with writing experiments designed to spark original thinking, develop facility with writing, and enhance understanding of your creative process. You will explore the possibilities of creative writing and the fine and ferocious literature concerning the great and small beasts by writing short creative and analytical pieces and longer works. Some classes will be devoted to working field trips to observe animals.

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English 010.302
Introduction to Creative Writing: Writing the Personal Essay, Writing Fiction
Sam 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 010.303
Introduction to Creative Writing: Poetry and Fiction
Lynn Levin
W 2:00-5:00

This workshop-style class is an introduction to the pleasures of the writing process. You will benefit from in-depth readings and constructive critical support in a class that encourages experimentation, daring, and fun. You will develop a working knowledge of the elements of the craft of fiction: character, plot, point of view, dialogue, and style, and you will use them to build your own short story. Our approach to poetry will focus on the importance of strangeness and surprise as well as the more familiar basics: imagery, sound effects, and so on. You will practice writing both lyric and narrative poems in free (mostly) and formal verse. Some of each meeting will be devoted to discussing fiction or poems from our texts, which may serve as springboards for your own work. From time to time, we will do some in-class writing. Growing, experimenting, and revising are key. Class participation and attendance are vital.

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English 010.601
Introduction to Creative Writing: Fiction and Poetry
Sebastian Castillo
W 5:00-5:00

This workshop-style course will serve as an introduction to writing short fiction and poetry. Students will craft their own original pieces in this community-based classroom, where we will read and comment on each other’s work as well as on the work of contemporary writers. Course requirements include thoughtful and committed class participation, regular writing assignments, and a final portfolio of fiction and poetry.

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English 111.301
Uncreative Writing
Kenneth Goldsmith
R 1:30-4:30

I Shop Therefore I Am: Writing Through Consumerism and Fashion

How does consumerism define who we are? Can we hew an autobiography from the label of our clothes hanging in our closets or the slogans emblazoned across our t-shirts? Can we construct a work of writing in the same way we would construct a garment? Can literature, literally, be wearable? Can we model print-on-demand literature on print-on-demand fabrics? And how does this extend into the digital world? What do our online purchases and browser histories reveal to us about who we are? And how can they be churned into compelling works of identity-based literature? We’ll examine a panoply of approaches as models for our writings, including world fashion, plus-size, national dress, costume, and fast fashion. For inspiration we’ll be looking at everything from the art of Jeff Koons and Kehinde Wiley; to the fashion of Commes des Garçons and Hood by Air. We’ll bolster our practice with readings by Jean Baudrillard, Roland Barthes, Robin Givhan, Bethann Hardison, bell hooks, Naomi Klein, Wayne Koestenbaum, Susan Sontag, and Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, alongside contemporary periodicals such as DIS, The Gentlewoman, and Vestoj. There will be a field trip to New York to visit the studios of fashion designers and avant-garde boutiques such as Dover Street Market.

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English 112.301
Fiction Writing Workshop
Carmen Machado
M 2:00-5:00

In this course, we will practice the art of fiction. Throughout the semester, students will write two new short stories and a series of craft-based exercises, as well as participate in thoughtful conversations about their classmates’ work. We will also be reading and discussing a variety of published pieces of fiction. These examples are not meant for intimidation or rote imitation: instead, think of them as small flames illuminating certain parts of a dark room, in which you too will be lighting your own candle. Students will be encouraged to consider how these authors approach character, form, description, dialogue, setting, genre, and plot, and also how they might do the same in a fresh and exciting way.

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English 113.301
Poetry Writing Workshop
Ron Silliman
W 2:00-5:00

Poetry is where the personal is always political, especially when it’s not. Often described as “the art of language,” poetry is the oldest literary genre, one that can be practiced in thousands of different ways; it is both the most traditional of art forms and the one most given to innovation. This class will both examine the constituent elements that come together to make a poem as well as sample the many types of expression and social investigation poetry makes possible: sonnets, performance poetry, documentary, visual poetry, conceptual writing, found language, prose poems, haiku, collaboration. Students will write in response to weekly prompts as well as perpetually revise one early assignment over the course of the term. Students will also maintain a journal, and may be asked to write short (one- to two-paragraph) notes on different topics and be subjected to deeply perverse pop quizzes. There will be a lot of reading. Prior experience with poetry is not a requirement; nor is a major in English.

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English 114.401
Playwriting
Jackie Goldfinger
M 2:00-5:00

This course is designed as a hands-on workshop in the art and craft of playwriting. It involves the study of existing plays (the majority of which have world premiered in the past 10 years); the exploration of elements such as storymaking, plot, structure, theme, character, dialogue, setting, etc., through reading excerpts from new plays and practicing techniques in short writing exercises; and the development of students’ own one-act 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, writing exercises, and the reading of student work—weekly attendance and active participation is crucial. At the end of the semester, the students’ final scripts are given a reading by professional actors at the Annenberg Center. Students are welcome to invite their friends and family to this event. This course is cross-listed with Theatre Arts.

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English 115.301
Advanced Fiction Writing
Max Apple
T 1:30-4:30

The class will be conducted as a seminar. Every student will write four 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. Permit from the instructor is required.

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English 116.401
Screenwriting
Kathleen DeMarco Van Cleve
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 the instructor to kathydemarco@writing.upenn.edu. Permit from the instructor is required. This course is cross-listed with Cinema Studies.

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English 116.402
Screenwriting
Scott Burkhardt
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. This course is cross-listed with Cinema Studies.

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English 116.403
Screenwriting
Scott Burkhardt
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. This course is cross-listed with Cinema Studies.

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

This course will focus on the songs of Bob Dylan as a source of creative inspiration. The course will, in part, take its shape based on the interests of the students who enroll in it: while Dylan obsessives—you know who you are—are, of course, welcome, if you are new to Dylan, curious about how an iconic musician might inspire your own creative output, your curiosity, adventurousness, and willingness to take a deep dive into his work is all that is required. We will listen to and discuss Dylan songs, watch documentaries about him, explore his influence across the arts, and meet critics and artists who have engaged him and his work in meaningful ways. To that degree, the course will be more impressionistic than strictly schematic—that is, we will follow various threads in his work as they emerge and our fascination suggests. The goal is for us to achieve an understanding of Dylan that is as visceral as it is intellectual. The class will do some analytic writing about him, but students who are so inclined will be encouraged to pursue their own creative work—which is to say that, in consultation with the instructor, fiction, songs, poems, plays, paintings or videos inspired by Bob Dylan’s work will be acceptable projects to complete the course’s requirements. You will be allowed a good deal of freedom in charting your own independent course, in other words, as appropriate to our subject and the gift his work has given to us all.

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English 118.301
Advanced Poetry Workshop
Gregory Djanikian
R 1:30-4:30

This workshop is designed for those of you who desire advanced study in poetry writing. The hope is that by semester’s end, through revision, you will have a portfolio of poems which are for the most part consistent in voice, form, and/or thematic concern. Discussion and constructive peer responses to student work will be the primary focus of the course, so your participation is essential. We’ll read essays about writing, and individual collections by at least seven contemporary poets. Students will also be asked to submit written responses to each other’s poems, as well as on the assigned collections and essays. Please email me three sample poems at djanikia@writing.upenn.edu. Permit from the instructor is required.

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English 119.301
Writing and Performance
Edwin Torres
M 2:00-5:00

Writers are creatures of awareness, receptive beings who embody transition. Part of allowing the creative process its chance for reception is to encourage that initial creative trigger into transition, to align our natural trilingual voice—our speaking-seeing-hearing voice—with a lateral extension of the ground we claim. We can empower amazement when we open space for the transformative roar that defines our human expression. This course will use performance, movement, and sensory exercises to allow the body its place in writing. The course is structured as a creative laboratory in which the senses can meet each other, a reintroduction of brain to language where the writing process can begin. At the tip of the iceberg we have: theater exercises, sound and visual collage, seismic crayolas, in-class raw writing and crit, Russian Futurism, the Alexander Technique, and studies of Richard Foreman, Juliana Spahr, Willie Colón, and others. The student who travels the open field will find a home here.

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English 120.401
The Translation of Poetry/The Poetry of Translation
Taije Silverman
TR 3:00-4:30

“No problem is as consubstantial with literature and its modest mystery as the one posed by translation.”—Jorge Luis Borges

In this class we will study and translate some of the major figures in 19th and 20th century poetry, including Gabriela Mistral, Wislawa Szymborska, Mahmoud Darwish, Anna Akhmatova, Rainer Maria Rilke, Giuseppe Ungaretti, Arthur Rimbaud, and Shu Ting. While the curriculum will be tailored to the interests and linguistic backgrounds of the students who enroll, all those curious about world poetry and the formidable, irresistible act of translation are welcome. Those wishing to take the translation course should have, at least, an intermediate knowledge of another language. We will study multiple translations of major poems and render our own versions in response. Students with knowledge of other languages will have the additional opportunity to work directly from the original. A portion of the course will be set up as a creative writing workshop in which to examine the overall effect of each others’ translations so that first drafts can become successful revisions. While class discussions will explore the contexts and particularity of poetry writen in Urdu, Italian, Arabic, French, Bulgarian, and Polish, they might ultimately reveal how notions of national literature have radically shifted in recent years to more polyglottic and globally textured forms. Through famous poems, essays on translation theory, and our own ongoing experiments, this course will celebrate the ways in which great poetry underscores the fact that language itself is a translation. In addition to the creative work, assignments will include an oral presentation, informal response papers, and a short final essay. This course is cross-listed with Comparative Literature.

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English 121.601
The Grown-Up Art of Writing for Children
Elizabeth LaBan
W 4:30-7:30

This course will focus on writing for children, while keeping in mind the fact that people of all ages read the stories written for younger people. We will read and discuss selected works each week, ranging from picture books to young adult novels. Along the way students will meet Skippyjon Jones, Auggie Pullman of Wonder, and Bryon Douglas of That Was Then, This Is Now, among other memorable characters. In addition, there will be weekly writing assignments and in-class exercises, culminating in one larger work each student will focus on for the second half of the semester. We will study what makes a good story, how to create vivid characters and bring them to life, building fictional worlds, the writing process itself, the importance of revising, and a practical guide to getting published. We will talk about trends in children’s literature from vampires and wizards to reality-based fiction. A portion of each class will also be dedicated to workshop time to share and critique each other’s work. I will invite an author to visit our class to talk about his or her experience as a published writer. Advanced fiction writing experience is not required, but students must be willing to stretch their writing skills, take risks, be open to sharing their work with the rest of the class, and be eager to read and critique other students’ work.

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English 123.401
Advanced Writing for Children
Lorene Cary
W 2:00-5:00

Like the Slow Food movement, Advanced Writing for Children is a response to our fast-and-faster learning culture. We’ll take the term to write two pieces for children or teens. Let’s call it it Slow Write. The idea is to take time to write better, deeper, more beautifully, funnier, to respect stories and how you choose and render them. Using community—among ourselves and with select partners outside the university—we will work to help you harness various intelligences to figure out the stories you need to write. Trips and collaborations will refresh and surprise. You’ll be writing, but also taking time: to remember, sketch, research, meditate, assess, develop, discard. Slow writing respects difference. Some of us need to get honest, others to pull back; some to learn fluency and others restraint. Most of us need support to work harder, but as Thomas Wolfe defined it for artists: “an integrity of purpose, a spiritual intensity, and a fine expenditure of energy that most people have no conception of.” When stories are ready, you will be invited to submit them to SafeKidsStories.com, because as Pippi Longstocking author Astrid Lungren has said: “Children perform miracles when they read.” On the side, for funsies, and to assuage the must-write fast urge, you’ll also write a weekly blog. This course is cross-listed with Africana Studies.

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English 126.301
The Art of Editing
Julia Bloch
T 1:30-4:30

This course takes a critical and practical approach to the art of editing. Is the editor simply a “failed writer,” as T. S. Eliot claimed, or is good editing the key to a writer’s clarity and integrity? In addition to exploring theories and histories of the red pen, we will consider a few case studies of editorial interventions, such as Ezra Pound’s excisions and revisions of Eliot’s The Waste Land, Marianne Moore’s five-decade quest to revise a single poem, and the editor who was discovered to have invented Raymond Carver’s distinctive narrative style. We will immerse ourselves in the technical aspects of editing, covering such topics as the difference between developmental and line editing, the merits of MLA and Chicago style, proofreading in hard copy and digital environments, and when to wield an em dash. Students will gain practical editing experience, learn about a range of different levels of editorial interventions, and investigate the politics of language usage and standards, reading from literary texts such as Gloria Anzaldúa’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” Harryette Mullen’s Sleeping with the Dictionary, and Dohra Ahmad’s Rotten English anthology to ask crucial questions about what “standard English” really means. This course counts toward the Journalistic Writing Minor.

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English 130.401
Advanced Screenwriting
Kathleen 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. Permit from the instructor is required. This course is cross-listed with Cinema Studies.

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English 135.301
Creative Nonfiction Writing
Beth Kephart (Sulit)
T 1:30-4:30

Memory is mysterious; we can’t always remember; we often remember wrong; narrative time gets jumbled. And yet many of the best stories ever written erupt from remembered moments, considered “truths,” writers who wrangle episodes into place. 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 some of the writers who do this best. Paul Lisicky. Heidi Julavits. Joan Wickersham. Mary-Louise Parker. Sallie Tisdale. Students should be prepared to reflect and discuss, take snapshots, and find stories inside music. Two long projects—a memoir and a long letter—will be required, as will a number of small pieces and in-class assignments. Students will also have the opportunity to meet and talk with the great Paul Lisicky.

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English 135.302
Experimental Nonfiction
Jay Kirk
R 1:30-4:30

This class will be a creative writing workshop with an emphasis on what is generally called “nonfiction,” but with a bigger emphasis on writing that doesn’t quite fit into any particular genre, yet is still hell-bent on gettings its fangs into the verifiable “reality” of lived experience (as opposed to just plain-old made up fiction). But whereas the tenets of Realism have long been thought too restricting and outdated in fiction—as well as in the visual arts, poetry, film, theater, and serious music—most narrative nonfiction still fears straying too far from the stale and safe “journalistic” techniques for how one “should” recreate and document actual reality-based experience. In this class, experimental does not mean throwing out everything we know about good writing just to be different and arbitrarily outré—quite the opposite. In here, we will turn up the Bunsen burner, scorch off a century of crusty thought, and cook up our own new theories for what it means to compose radical contemporary nonfiction.

Since the course will take the form of a seminar, consistent class participation is essential. In class we will work on close reading and writing assignments and we will review and discuss each other’s work. You will be graded on class participation, attendance, the completion of weekly assignments, and a midterm and final writing assignment.

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English 135.303
Creative Nonfiction: Writing Your Travels
Marion Kant
M 2:00-5:00

In this course students will discuss what travelling means in an age when many people can get on a plane or drive on a whim to a place of their choice. Students will be asked to think about travel as a deliberate act or an act of improvisation. They will observe and record what they see when they travel. They will explore a popular form of writing and practice both—travelling and writing—as part of their own daily activities. The familiar will become strange and new as they return home, walk through the university, visit Center City, or explore places close to campus. They will, in the process, learn about themselves; they will learn to see themselves in the mirror of “the ordinary and the extraordinary,” “the other,” or “the same.” They will be forced to see themselves as part of a greater whole, a past, a present, and a future. The course will explore famous works by travelers who visited the USA, such works as Charles Dickens’s “On America and the Americans” and G. K. Chesterton’s “What I Saw in America” (1922), and consider recent works such as Michael O’Brien’s Mrs. Adams in Winter: A Journey in the Last Days of Napoleon (2011) and Robert MacFarlane’s The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot (2012).

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English 135.401
Peer Tutoring
Valerie Ross, Lan Ngo
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; fulfillment of writing requirement and permission of instructor required. For more information, visit The Critical Writing Program.

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English 144.301
Speculative Fiction
Carmen Machado
TR 1:30-2:50

In contemporary literature, “realism” is often used as shorthand for “literary.” The implication is that serious writing happens only within a faithful representation of reality. But this is a strictly modern idea—and a false one. Literature is historically filled with ghosts, gods, magic, talking animals, and the walking dead. Some of the most powerful and popular storytelling of our time has examined the nuances of the human condition in our own future, in alternate realities, and on other worlds. In this course, we will read and discuss different kinds of fantastic literature, and use those influences to tell our own stories. Students will learn techniques to help them weave their own supernatural tales, bust through genre tropes, and explore their obsessions.

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English 145.301
Advanced Nonfiction Writing
Lise Funderburg
R 1:30-4:30

Creative nonfiction essays, at best, celebrate curiosity, observation, prejudice, and other idiosyncrasies of the human condition. They use the literary techniques of fiction and the reporting strategies of journalism in service of compelling real-life stories. In this workshop-style class you will write and revise three longer essays and a handful of shorter ones. Aside from 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, perplexed you, held you captive, set you free, or maybe just tickled the bejeezus out of you. In assignments, class exercises, and discussions of readings, we will address technical issues such as narrative/thematic tension, transition, character development, dialogue, point of view, characterization, imagery, and 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.

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English 145.601
Finding Voice: Perspectives on Race, Class & Gender
Kathryn Watterson
T 5:30-8:30

Our voices as writers take shape in the complex ground of our inner landscapes, seeded by our lives as children, our family dynamics and myths, and our cultural, psycho/social connections. In this writing workshop, we will explore the impact of “identity”—primarily race, class and gender—as it informs the way we convey our experiences and personal truths to the world. Students will read a variety of authors to gain insight into various ways writers build narratives to make sense out of the conflicting histories and memories that influence the progression of their lives. Students will conduct interviews, do research, writing exercises and visualizations to generate ideas, and to develop and revise personal essays, articles and opinion pieces.

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English 155.301
Documentary Writing
Paul Hendrickson
M 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 a 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.

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English 156.301
Writing from Photographs
Paul Hendrickson
W 2:00-5:00

A 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 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 1965 red-leather, bucket-seat Mustang. 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.”

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English 157.301
Introduction to Science Writing
Peter Tarr
T 1:30-4:30

Science, technology, medicine: all race ahead, while much of our society lags woefully behind. “Behind,” that is, in terms of comprehension and in terms of the ability to form coherent opinions and make informed judgments. Think global warming, GMOs, AI, life-extending medical technologies, data mining by government and business, drone strikes. We need inspired explainers to report on how new science and technology change the way we live. This is a writing course, organized as a workshop. You will be going out into the local environment to report on science and people who are doing science, at Penn and Penn Medicine, at Drexel, etc. You will build in the first half of the course toward an integrated narrative piece about a scientist (engineer, doctor, computer scientist, etc.) in her or his environment, and you will learn techniques of the interview, of finding and working with quotes, of recognizing “significant details,” and of drawing a portrait of another human being. You will also work to translate the technical, jargon-impaired patois of the scientist/engineer into prose: sometimes workmanlike, sometimes lyrical, but always clarifying. You will practice the art of making metaphors. The second half of the course will move forward in ways you will help decide. Every week, you will be reading and writing. The instructor is a highly enthusiastic explainer who has devoted most of his career to learning and writing about leading-edge technologies and new areas of scientific research. He wants to pass the baton to you, whose talents are so urgently needed by a society that lags behind as science, technology, medicine all race ahead. Please join me.

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English 160.301
Long-Form Journalism
Dick Polman
W 2:00-5:00

This course in long-form journalism, English 160, required of all journalistic 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 nonfiction. 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, most importantly, they will spend the semester working on a long-form journalistic project, using those pioneered storytelling techniques.

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

One of the toughest challenges for any journalist is to master the art of profile-writing. In this 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 once 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 the Arts and Popular Culture
Anthony DeCurtis
F 2:00-5:00

This advanced course in writing about the arts and popular culture (interpreted broadly) is limited in enrollment (by permission of the instructor) and focuses on a semester-long project that each student defines in consultation with the instructor. The course will be run something like a group independent study, in which students pursue their specific, personal projects and share their work on an ongoing basis with the class as a whole. Ideally, students will informally serve as each other’s editors, sharing suggestions, sources, approaches and encouragement. 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 individual projects that will constitute the course’s main work. Most typically, the semester-long project will be a lengthy feature (6,000+ words) of the sort that regularly appears in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine or Rolling Stone, among other publications. Other approaches to the project, however, will certainly be considered. 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. Ideally, applicants will have already taken 117.301 with the instructor, but that is not a firm prerequisite and other students should absolutely feel free to apply.

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English 415.640
Creative Writing for Chemists
Melissa Jensen
W 5:30-8:30

Maybe you've said this, even if not aloud: “My dream is to write, but I’m a .” This workshop course is intended to bring out the creative writer in everyone, based around lots of reading and writing, some lively discussion, and livelier critique. The goal is to become coherent, compelling storytellers. Because everyone has a story to tell. We will read across genres, both fiction and creative non-fiction, prose and verse and script, exploring various approaches to how best to get the story told. Students will complete a series of writing assignments: honing their voice, creating believable story, characters, and language. We will discuss these pieces as a group in class. Even a research paper tells a story, after all. It’s just in the way it’s told.

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English 435.640
Writing and Remembering: A Memoir Workshop
Kathryn Watterson
R 5:30-8:10

Whether you’re a new or experienced writer, this seminar will help you explore the elements that go into creating an effective memoir—the storytelling that creates for your readers events/people/places that have helped shape your inner life and sense of self. Memory is a dynamic force, and as we move and grow through our lives, our perspectives shift and change our relationships with the past. Through exercises and assignments, you will tap into your imagination and learn not only how to explore the mysteries that have helped to shape your own life and others' lives, but how to write vividly about them. We will focus on details, pace, and tone, as well as on research and revision and the ethics of how to write “truths” that may effect other people’s lives. We also will mine a deeper understanding of the art and craft by writing from a wide range of authors, including Maxine Hong Kingston, Kaye Gibbons, Jorge Luis Borges, Toni Morrison, Eudora Welty, James Baldwin, and Zora Neale Hurston. In addition to in-class writing, students are asked to a maintain a daily practice of free-writing; write reading responses (2-3 pages weekly) to assigned books, essays, and stories; participate in workshop discussions and peer review, and write and revise three stories or personal essays (4-5 pages) during the semester.

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