Suzanne R. Hoover

BA, Sarah Lawrence College. MA, PhD, Columbia University. Author of numerous scholarly articles, reviews and essays.  Received National Endowment for the Humanities Younger Humanist grant, 1972-73. Taught courses in literary craft for many years for both poets and fiction writers. From 2005 to 2015 taught advanced fiction writing workshops at the Westport Writers Workshop in Connecticut. SLC, 1977-2000; 2008–

Graduate Courses

Writing 2017-2018

Mixed-Genre Craft: Reading for Writers

Craft—Spring

To become a really strong writer, the most useful and interesting thing that you can do is to become a really strong reader. (It is the way good writers have always learned how to write.) In this course, we will explore a range of compelling works—in fiction, drama, poetry, and film—with the aim of understanding how those texts work and why they succeed as well as they do. As you retrace closely the footsteps of the literary imagination, you will widen and deepen your own work in any genre. Our informal class discussions will be oriented toward the project of expanding your awareness of options and choices and toward acquiring new techniques. Texts will include: Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse; Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory; Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day; G. B. Shaw’s drama, Saint Joan; Samuel Beckett's one-act play, Krapp's Last Tape; the Epstein Brothers and Howard Koch’s screenplay for Casablanca; poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, Walt Whitman, Stanley Kunitz, D.H. Lawrence, and others.  In addition to Casablanca, films will include The Sting, The Fallen Idol, Babette's Feast, and The Lives of Others.

Faculty

Mixed-Genre Craft: Beginnings

Craft—Fall

The moment when a spider sends out the first strands of a new web, or when a bird positions the first twigs of a new nest, the eternal contest between imaginative freedom and natural constraints begins. This course will explore the complexity of written beginnings through weekly readings of poems, essays, and narratives, both fictional and nonfictional. Decisions will have to be made concerning: Who is speaking the narrative, essay, or poem? Who is experiencing it? Who is receiving it? How much context (backstory) does the reader need at the outset? Where in the story should the telling of it begin, and what difference might that choice make? How do we pull or push the reader, decisively, through the looking glass, into this new world? And finally, how do we END the beginning, intriguingly, so the reader will want to move on to the MIDDLE? Readings will be chosen from works that raise these questions, and many others, in provocative and instructive ways. Students will lead the discussions each week (with the instructor) from a writer’s perspective.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Beginnings: Mixed-Genre Craft

Craft—Fall

The moment when a spider sends out the first strands of a new web, or when a bird positions the first twigs of a new nest, the eternal contest between imaginative freedom and natural constraints begins. This course will explore the complexity of written beginnings through weekly readings of poems, essays, and narratives—both fictional and nonfictional. Decisions will have to be made concerning: Who is speaking the narrative, essay, or poem? Who is experiencing it? Who is receiving it? How much context (backstory) does the reader need at the outset? Where in the story should the telling of it begin, and what difference might that choice make? How do we pull or push the reader, decisively, through the looking-glass into this new world? And finally, how do we END the beginning—intriguingly—so the reader will want to move on to the MIDDLE? Readings will be chosen from works that raise these questions—and many others—in provocative and instructive ways. There will be biweekly, one-on-one conferences, where any genre of creative writing will be welcomed and discussed.

Faculty

The Hidden Lives of Poems

Craft—Fall

Poetry is the most concentrated of the literary modes and the one in which meaning and form are most intimately and subtly related. Therefore, to grasp fully what any poem has to offer, we need to understand more than the meaning of its statements; we must understand in depth how the poem is made, and also, the crucial relationship between what the poem is saying and how it is made. We may come to such understanding through an intensive study of whole poems, paying equal attention to the larger structures of meaning and feeling, the sub-structures of syntax, image, rhythm, and phrasing, and the “miniature” patterns (syllabic/phonemic) of sound and sense. Then poems stand forth in their full complexity as intricate and powerful expressive systems.

In sum: while emphasizing crucial connections between meaning and form, this course will also go deeply into poetic anatomy and the poet's toolkit: metaphor, simile, meter, stanza form, word-sound, diction, silence, line-length, word-length, line-breaks, and so on. We will study a broad range of poems—BOTH CLOSED AND OPEN FORMS—and on the way, work toward a general definition of poetry.

Faculty