The 200-level courses in Fiction, Poetry, and Nonfiction are the gateway courses to the major. Students must complete a 200-level course in their stated concentration with a C minimum, in addition to a second 200-level course in a concentration of their choice. Once the required 200-level courses and 215 are complete, students go on to the intermediate and advanced workshops in their chosen concentration.
All concentrations take the following:
215: Elements of Craft in Creative Writing
This 200-level multigenre craft course introduces the student to craft terms and concepts via intensive reading in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. This is an intensive reading and lecture course designed to model the ways in which writers read, foregrounding issues of craft used to form, control, and structure works of art. We will introduce and review key terms and concepts from 200-level workshops in each genre, and we will read roughly a book each week across the genres of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, in some combination. We will deepen our understanding of the elements of craft and the ways in which writers operate within, on the edges of, or in response to literary contexts and traditions.
210: Introduction to Fiction
The 200-level course introduces the student to craft terms and concepts through lecture, exercises, and reading selections. The workshop method (the sharing and critique of original student work) is introduced in the breakout discussion groups. Students gain a working knowledge of basic craft terms and concepts such as character, plot, setting, narrative time, dialogue, point-of-view, voice, conflict resolution, and metaphorical language. Readings from published authors are analyzed from a writer’s perspective. Writing skills necessary for success in fiction writing are identified and honed. Students complete exercises based on these elements and write at least one complete short story.
Recommended/sample texts: The Craft of Fiction by Janet Burroway (Sixth Ed., Longman Publishing), The Story and Its Writer by Anne Charters (compact edition, Bedford/St. Martin’s), Rules for Writers, a grammar guide by Diana Hacker (Fifth Ed., Bedford St. Martin’s).
304: Intermediate Fiction Workshop
This class is largely a workshop course. Terms and concepts learned at the 200-level are used to discuss student fiction as well as, frequently, outside works of literature. At the professor’s discretion, exercises in craft are sometimes assigned, but overall emphasis shifts to the production of completed stories. Elements of successful workshop technique are stressed. Upon finishing the course, a student should be fluent in fictional craft terminology, understand the elements of the short story, have made satisfactory progress in creating a short story, and know the protocol of the workshop technique.
Recommended/sample texts: The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction (Eds. Williford and Martone, Simon and Schuster), You’ve Got to Read This: Contemporary American Writers Introduce Stories that Held Them in Awe (Ed. Ron Hansen, Harper Perennial).
404: Advanced Fiction Workshop
In the advanced workshop, the student is responsible for producing high-quality work and critiquing with expertise, tact, and responsibility the work of others. Reading outside texts for modeling purposes, inspiration, and continued education in craft may be required at the professor’s discretion. At this level the expectations are high for professional, polished work, as well as commitment to creative expression.
209: Introduction to Poetry
The student will gain a working knowledge of various concepts and terms, including (but not limited to) the following: image, metaphor, analogy, line, stanza, diction, syntax, voice, tone, rhythm, rhyme. Students will read the work of a wide range of contemporary poets, as well as essays by poets on craft and the writing process. Most importantly, students will be given various prompts and challenges to write their own poems each week, which will be discussed in class-wide workshop as well as in small groups and in conferences with their instructors. Students will also write one paper, analyzing the major craft elements of a contemporary poet. Toward semester's end, students will concentrate on matters of revision, and will produce a final portfolio, which will figure significantly in their final grade.
Recommended texts: In addition to a packet of essays and handouts in common to all sections created by the course director, students will use at least one anthology of contemporary poetry such as Contemporary American Poetry (8th Edition), edited by A. Poulin, Jr. and Michael Waters (Houghton Mifflin: 2006) or Poems, Poets, Poetry: An Introduction and Anthology, edited by Helen Vendler (Bedford Books: 1997).
309: Intermediate Poetry Workshop
The student will write at least one poem a week, will read 6-8 books of contemporary poetry, and will workshop his/her work and the work of peers. Students will undertake an ongoing process of poem revision leading to a final portfolio. Students will continue to read essays on craft and process by contemporary poets, and they will write at least two papers analyzing the major craft elements of contemporary poets. Through all these activities—writing their own poems, workshop, revision of their poems, discussion and writing about the craft of contemporary poets—students will gain a more sophisticated understanding, both as critics and practitioners, of the terms and concepts introduced in the 200-level course.
Texts will include recent collections by such contemporary poets as John Ashbery, Lucie Brock-Broido, Mark Doty, Louise Gluck, Marilyn Hacker, Joy Harjo, Li-Young Lee, Harryette Mullen, Michael Palmer, Alberto Rios, and Charles Wright.
409: Advanced Poetry Workshop
As in Intermediate Poetry, the student will write at least a poem a week, will read books by contemporary poets and write craft analyses of at least two collections, will undertake intensive workshop of their poems, and will engage in the ongoing process of poem revision toward production of a final poem portfolio.
201: Introduction to Nonfiction
The student will gain a working knowledge of these concepts and terms: memoir, personal essay, portrait, travel essay, literary journalism, narrative voice, dialogue, metaphor, image, scene, narrative summary, reflection, and research. The student will read selected texts and discuss craft elements in works of literary nonfiction. The student will develop writing skills by doing exercises and writing assignments in several modes of nonfiction writing (i.e., portrait, travel essay, memoir).
Recommended text: Writing True: The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction, Sondra Perl and Mimi Schwartz (Houghton Mifflin: 2006).
301: Intermediate Nonfiction Workshop
The student will review and refine skills developed at the 200-level course. Course content will include reading of literary nonfiction that demonstrates a range of formal and aesthetic styles; workshop discussion of student works-in-progress; and writing assignments culminating in a portfolio or series of completed essays (or works in the other modes introduced in 201). Upon course completion, the student will be fluent in nonfiction craft terminology, understand the elements of nonfiction prose style, and have made satisfactory progress in writing a personal essay, memoir, portrait, travel essay, or other work of creative nonfiction. The student will demonstrate competence in the workshop peer review process.
Recommended texts: The Art of the Personal Essay, Phillip Lopate, editor; Best American Essays of the 20th Century, Joyce Carol Oates, editor, or The Norton Book of Nature Writing, editors John Elder and Robert Finch.
401: Advanced Nonfiction Workshop
The student will write and revise a portfolio or series of nonfiction works, with workshop discussion advancing concepts and practices of revision. Course content, in addition to writing, workshop discussion and revision, will include outside reading that demonstrates a breadth of formal and aesthetic styles, including new forms such as lyric essay, hybrid forms, and collaged essays. The student will demonstrate competence in writing literary nonfiction in a range of forms that may include both traditional and innovative structure.
Recommended texts: The Art of the Personal Essay, Phillip Lopate, editor; The Next American Essay, John D’Agata, editor.