Writing Courses

One of the oldest programs of its kind in the country, Sarah Lawrence’s nationally recognized Graduate Writing Program brings students into close mentoring relationships with active, distinguished writers. Students concentrate in fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry, developing a personal voice while honing their writing and critical abilities.

The program seeks to enroll students who bring rich life experience to the writing process and fosters a stimulating community of writers who get to know one another in workshop discussions and remain connected throughout their lives. In addition to workshops, students benefit from one-on-one biweekly conferences with faculty. There are plenty of opportunities to read, hear, and share work on campus, including a monthly reading series, a festival that brings nationally known writers to campus, and an annual literary publication.

2018-2019 Courses

Writing

Poetry Workshop

Workshop—Fall

In this workshop, we will combine the exploration of our own new writing with discussions of readings assigned each week from a diverse list of books, including poetry by Kamau Brathwaite, Marilyn Chin, Robert Pinsky, Cynthia Hogue, Martin Espada, and Carol Ann Duffy. We should look forward to engaging discussions, including aspects of subject and structure, cultural embodiment and borrowing, and topical writing. Pointed discussions of line edits can extend to an ongoing investigation of how we are led by our imagination and how we may take hold of our imagination and lead it. In addition to our weekly readings, I may make spontaneous additions of individual poems, especially translated works. Translation, in its theory and application, should be an ongoing interest. Our weekly discussions of the readings will, I hope, be a deep and honest sharing of our responses to published work in the service of maintaining the workshop as a safe, open, and generative space where we can nourish our pursuit of the art.

Faculty

Nonfiction Workshop

Workshop—Fall

In this course, we will explore how the nonfiction writer engages and holds onto the reader: through storytelling, the progression of an idea or argument, tone and voice, or what Phillip Lopate calls an “aesthetic inevitability.” We will read and discuss essays and memoir excerpts (from writers including James Baldwin, Eula Biss, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Adam Gopnik, and Mary McCarthy, among others) and listen to various audio stories to try to figure out how other writers and storytellers have done it. We will complete short, directed assignments that aim to access compelling biographical or intellectual material and help students light upon their particular concerns and writing style. We will strive to create writing that is vivid, fresh, and beautiful; that struggles toward honesty and precision; that matters beyond the fact that the events depicted are true. Students will be expected to complete two longer works that will be submitted to workshop. 

Faculty

Nonfiction Craft: Storying the Self

Craft—Fall

How do we take the sprawl of life—with its many characters, events, timelines, memories—and distill the human experience to a cohesive and gripping story? How do we find the narrative electricity in the mundane? This class will focus on the elements of story with a particular emphasis on structure. We’ll study classic forms, episodic timelines, and experimental narratives with an objective to chisel a dramatic arc from our lives. We’ll also discuss the terms on which one forges a relationship of trust between writer and audience—the compromises that we might weigh and the permissions that may or may not be granted by this foundation. We will use the architectures behind the assigned readings as a blueprint and gateway for our own writing exercises. Texts will include work by: Kristen Arnett, Charles Baxter, Alison Bechdel, Brian Blanchfield, Durga Chew-Bose, Julie Buntin, Alexander Chee, Rachel Cusk, Sonali Deraniyagala, Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, Kristin Dombek, Eliese Colette Goldbach, Samantha Irby, Leslie Jamison, Kiese Laymon, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Sarah Manguso, Mary Ruefle, Lidia Yuknavitch, and Jenny Zhang.

Faculty

Poetry Craft: New Chords and Transgressions: Topics in Craft (and Daring)

Craft—Fall

Two ideas power the imaginative and critical fascinations of this course. The first is from the opening lines of a sonnet by Terrance Hayes: “Our sermon today concerns the dialectic/Blessings in transgression & transcendence”; the second, from CA Conrad: “We are not alone in our particular stew of molecules, and the sooner we admit, even admire, the influence of this world, the freer we will be to construct new chords of thought without fear.” Together we will complicate—and celebrate—formal traditions, exploring how writers work with and within and against conventions, expectations, and architectures. By way of spirited engagements with contemporary poems and translations, we will consider defiance and deference, structure and surprise, and the tensions between rebellion and innovation. And all the while, we will provoke new drafts and invent forms of our own by way of play and collaboration. Look forward to intensive meetings devoted to generative writing, reading an array of daring poets (think: Layli Long Soldier, Solmaz Sharif, Vievee Francis, Anne Carson, Sarah Howe, Patrick Rosal, sam sax, Natalie Diaz, Tyehimba Jess, etc.) and conversations about the matter and melody of all that you create.

Faculty

Speculative Fiction Craft: The Monstrous Domestic: Horror in the Home

Craft—Fall

In this craft class, we’ll examine monstersboth literal and metaphoricand the roles that they play in fiction set in the domestic sphere. We will explore the juxtaposition of teeth and claws against marriage, housework, and tax returns in fiction by Max Gladstone, Angela Carter, Marie Vibbert, Carmen Machado, Jeffrey Ford, and others. Real-world horrors will play a role in the readings, too, through nonfiction essays such as Dimas Ilaw’s The Shape of Darkness as it Overtakes Us,” which discusses how speculative fiction can help us cope with and confront violence, danger, and fear. The stark contrast of the monstrous and the domestic will give us an excellent opportunity to look through the lens that speculative fiction holds up to the everyday, showing us hard truths and inspiring us to see things differently. 

Faculty

Fiction Craft: Narrative Obsession

Craft—Fall

How do we reveal ourselves, obliquely or otherwise, in the act of longing for another? And how can writers use such revelations for narrative effect? While the objects of obsession for these writers range from ex-lovers to strangers, our readings are all books whose driving force comes from a singular focus on the other. Even though ostensibly these are books “about” another person, I’m interested in how they function as a portrait of their narratorsmaps of their psychological topography. I’d like to look at the ways in which obsession tints and twists our ability to tell a story and how writers can employ this as a narrative tool in their own work. For the reader, a narrator with an obsession is a useful entry point into a world. We’ll look at the choices that these authors make and to what effect, the craft strategies that they employ to create a slippage in narration, and think about how obsession both reveals and obscures reality. Readings will include works by Chris Kraus, Maggie Nelson, Sophie Calle, Jeffrey Eugenides, Scott Spencer, and others. Informed by the reading, students will submit a creative work of 5-10 pages, animated by the theme of obsession.

Faculty

Speculative Fiction Craft: Lost in the Maze: Unseen Forces, Conspiracies, and Fate

Craft—Fall

Worldbuildingin speculative fiction often brings to mind the maps on the endpapers of fantasy novels, showing the terrain that characters will traverse on their journeys. But in many great novels and stories, characters start out embedded in the heart of a labyrinthand never find their way out. In this course, we’ll look at fictive universes that trap and delude their inhabitants, sending them on twisting routes to dead ends or keeping them in ignorance of the powers-that-be who are secretly determining the shape of their lives. We’ll closely read stories and novel excerpts from authorsincluding Manuel Gonzales, Kelly Link, Victor LaValle, Jonathan Lethem, Kazuo Ishiguro, Samantha Hunt, Mark Z. Danielewski, Thomas Pynchon, and othersin order to reverse-engineer the all-encompassing systems they present in their fiction. Ultimately, we’ll ponder how writers can use systems to convey meaning and how characters can find meaning within those systems.

Faculty

Nonfiction Craft: Emersonians and Montaignians: Two Approaches to the Essay

Craft—Fall

When you say that you’d like to start working on an essay,” you’re probably referring to one of two related but distinct forms, each with its own history. There’s the argumentative essay that, here in America, is descended from the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson—developed out loud, in sermons and speeches, for the purpose of persuading (and, just as importantly, entertaining) an audience. Then there’s the more ruminative essayistic tradition that stretches back to Michel de Montaigne and the French Renaissance. In this course, we’ll explore both traditions and play with what we find. We’ll start with classic early American sermons by John Winthrop and Jonathan Edwards, as well as Montaigne’s first attempts to map his restless consciousness onto the page, in prose. Then we’ll wind through time, visiting Emerson and Douglass, Didion and Sontag, Dr. King and Zadie Smith. We’ll make work informed by their tendencies and strategies on either side of the essay’s enduring line.

Faculty

Fiction Craft: The Writing of Politically Engaged Fiction

Craft—Fall

One of the enduring assertions of the second wave of the Feminist Movement in the United States, beginning in the late 1960s, was that the personal is political. Despite the skepticism that often greets fiction attempting to engage contemporary political issues, some of the most significant works of fiction in recent years have dramatized how the personal fates of characters are shaped by political events beyond the immediate circumstances of their lives as individuals. In this course, students will read eight works of fiction (Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas, A Person of Interest by Susan Choi, Brief Encounters With Che Guevera by Ben Fountain, An Untamed State by Roxane Gay, Telex From Cuba by Rachel Kushner, The Last of Her Kind by Sigrid Nunez, The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan, and Run by Ann Patchett) that use various narrative strategies to tell the stories of individuals who are also informed by the larger political realities in the world they inhabit. Students will engage in class discussions, examining the strategies used by each writer to make a personal story resonate politically. Each student will be required to give a presentation on how effective a particular work of fiction is in fulfilling the assertion that the personal is political. The typed written notes of class presentations must be turned in by the end of the semester.

Faculty

Fiction Workshop

Workshop—Fall

The formulaic nature of many fiction writing workshops seems (to me) antithetical to what it means to make art. I’ve been trying desperately for years now—with varying degrees of success—to find a way to “teach” writing that feels open, honest, and playful. Want to know what I’d like? For a class to encourage innovation and experimentation, to come to the collective epiphany that the possibilities for story are endless, and that not everything that comes through the classroom has to be discussed in terms of what John Hawkes once called “the enemies of fiction”—plot, character, setting, and theme. I am suspicious of peer critique that uses, as its engine, the words “I want.” In an ideal situation, we would try to see stories from the inside-out and try to imagine how they might become more purely what they are rather than something we want them to be. We would value language, style, and structure. Voice would take precedence over plot. We would encourage ambitious failure more than careful success. We would applaud a writer for taking a risk rather than bury her for the risk’s inscrutability. We wouldn’t treat every story as something to be made publication-ready and wouldn’t be so small-bore in the way we think and talk. These are ideas, of course, and tell you nothing about how I actually run my classroom. So here are a few things I’m (relatively) sure about. Each student will bring at least one story into the classroom over the course of the semester. We will often write in response to prompts designed to help you find a voice, take a chance, do something you wouldn’t expect of yourself. We will, on two or three occasions, take a break from our routine to discuss a great (and, for those of you who don’t know me, likely unorthodox) novel. We will try to spend some time talking about aesthetics and discussing essays from writers of all stripes who think they’ve got it all figured out. It’s having it all figured out that scares me. In the end, I want us to follow Socrates’s lead and realize that we only know that we know nothing. Every class should be equal parts rigor, play, and discovery. If this sounds interesting, show up, and we’ll work out the details.

Faculty

Poetry Workshop: What Else Inside the Voice Inside the Ink?

Workshop—Fall

This course takes its sense from my (our) craft course last semester. Several of the questions centered here are questions that we began to think about last semester, but this new course is new—and folks who either did or didn’t take that course last year are all welcome.

How does a text behave like (or carry) the worlds and questions to which it responds? What Else or Elsewhere can be found inside the ink? How do writers cultivate encounter, observation, history, and imagination to tip and trouble language into experience? In this workshop, we will explore texts that inspire wonder and exemplify the powers of imaginative practice(s). Studying work that is original, strange, wondering, we will consider the gifts of mystery and strangeness in poems. (And here I am hearing Paul Celan in “The Meridian,” translated by Pierre Joris: “The poem estranges. It estranges by its existence, by the mode of its existence, it stands opposite and against one, voiceful and voiceless simultaneously, as language, as language setting itself free….” Together we will work to understand some of the ways in which the texts are working while also engaging in studies that awaken our own idiosyncratic ways of saying and seeing. As a way of learning with assigned materials, participants will be expected to write poems in response to experiments, present beloved texts, and provide peers with thoughtfully considered feedback/observations of their work. The course will be reading- and writing-intensive. It will also be a kind of laboratory for trying and making. Among the artists whose work we will likely study are Simone White, Hélène Cixous, Ilya Kaminsky, Lucille Clifton, Li-Young Lee, Paul Celan, Lucie Brock-Broido, Mary Ruefle, Vievee Francis, J. Michael Martinez, Clarice Lispector, James Baldwin, June Jordan, Cherrie Moraga, Ross Gay, W.S. Merwin, and Kamau Brathwaite. In addition to reading workshop materials by peers, students will read five assigned poetry collections over the course of the semester, along with other assigned texts (a pair of letters, a poem, an essay) every week.

Faculty

Fiction Workshop: Revision

Workshop—Fall

This course examines the art of revision.  “[O]ne’s plan, alas, is one thing and one’s result another,” Henry James says in the New York edition preface to The Wings of the Dove. We will try to think about what James calls, in that preface, “the gaps and the lapses” in our work, “the intentions that, with the best will in the world, were not to fructify,” “the absent values, the palpable voids, the missing links, the mocking shadows” that necessarily haunt any early draft, and our subsequent attempts to exorcise those specters. We will do this primarily by workshopping early drafts of student work alongside revisions of that work in the hopes of examining the concrete ways that each revision meets or fails to meet (or even re-conceptualizes entirely) the ambitions and requirements of its earlier incarnation. Our assumption will be that most drafts—especially early ones—are largely failures, pocked with the Jamesian voids and lacunae mentioned above. Anyone can fail in this manner, of course—anybody can produce a disastrous first draft—but few are capable of failing (to use Samuel Beckett’s oft-quoted injunction) better. This course aims to provide you with the tools and the strategies to do so. In addition to a selection from James’s New York edition prefaces, our supplemental readings may also include revisions of Evan Connell’s Mrs. Bridge, Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art, Joyce’s The Sisters, Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Grace Paley’s A Conversation with My Father, Edward P. Jones’s The First Day, and Flannery O’Connor’s The Geranium and Judgement Day, among many others.

Faculty

Fiction Workshop: A Life in Fiction

Workshop—Fall

This workshop will focus on the development of craft, expanding the writer’s understanding and range of character, syntax, narrative strategies, and narrative risk. We will look at published works of fiction to understand how a writer has accomplished what she/he has accomplished in a specific novel or short story and what we as writers can learn and make use of in the advancement of our own craft. In addition to working on drafts and revisions of fictions, there will be weekly writing experiments that will, hopefully, upend and expand preconceptions of language and structure in the shaping of fiction.

Faculty

Poetry Workshop: Speaking in Tongues, Wearing the Mask: Speaker, Persona, Impersonation, Ventriloquism, Fragment

Workshop—Fall

When I state myself, as the representative of the verse, it does not mean me, but a supposed person. Emily Dickinson, in a letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

For centuries, poets have spoken in the voices of other people. From the early Greeks to Shakespeare, to Walt Whitman, to Emily Dickinson, to Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, Robert Hayden, Lucille Clifton, Louise Gluck, Patricia Smith, Nick Flynn, Jorie Graham, Tyehimba Jess, etc. What is made possible when one speaks in the voice of a character in an ancient story or myth? What is made possible when one gives voice to a character that lived in another time? Who dares to speak in the voice of a flower? Of a bee? Of a storm? Of a star? What if one gives voice to the fragments of voices within one consciousness? In this class, we will read poems where the poet has spoken in a different tongue or has worn the mask of someone or something else. Each participant will be expected to read assigned collections deeply each week, to meet with another student in a weekly poetry date, and to bring in one new persona poem each week. I hope we will find that outside the limits of the personal story is a cosmos of possibilities for empathy, revision, wonder, instruction, and finding another way in: slant.

Faculty

Nonfiction Workshop: The Brief Encounter Essay

Workshop—Fall

In this class, we will focus first on close reading and then on close writing—developing small essays that encompass something very large. We will do much of our work on the micro-level, as opposed to the macro-level, distilling ideas and language into perfect sentences, one after another, until we have created concise, beautiful works of art. We’ll read and discuss short, powerful pieces by outside writers, studying their craft techniques in order to perfect our own styles and voices. Of our six conferences, four will be individual meetings and two will be group meetings held in the evening to watch and discuss documentary films; in addition, there will be four monthly peer-group meetings. (Note: This is not a class in which to work on thesis material; the essays will be generated through writing exercises designed with specific topics and goals in mind.)

Faculty

Speculative Fiction Workshop: Un-Realism

Workshop—Fall

Paul Ricoeur has suggested that written language—through the unique process by which the human brain converts metaphor into image—can make real what in our day-to-day reality would be tangibly impossible. In other words, we can, through the written word, draw from the ether of madness and real-ize it. It’s unique to the word on the page, our brain’s translation of a little cipher into the letter a,” a combination of ciphers into a word, our internal transmutation of that word into a sound-image—which, combined with other sound-images, produces breathing dreams of logic and paradox and joy and terror and narrative drive. And it’s an internal process that other forms of narrative—like cinema or television or theatre—don’t require of our brains. This internal combustion of words and memories is an amazing alchemy that we, as writers, engineer. We can transfer madness onto a page and make it hard and material. It’s that transference and burnishing of madness—of manipulating metaphor into reality—that I want you to understand deeply and be able to use in new ways by the end of this workshop…to know how to make anything startling and real…to send anyone into the breathing dream. So, rather than a speculative fiction workshop, we might call this an un-realism workshop. We’ll spend about half of each session workshopping student writing but will devote the rest of the time to outside reading: theory and fiction relating to the parable form, Freudian dream work, mise en abyme, frame narrative, mazes, pattern language, conceptual metaphor, surrealism, magical realism, anti-realism, and irrealism. Some caveats: The reading list will be ambitious and mandatory. I tend to run on at the mouth with abstraction, pointy-headed digression, 10-cent words, and apparent non sequiturs. I’ll aggressively point out clichés that you thought were just fine and stop you from writing television shows. If you’re okay with all the above, let’s work together.

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 (back story) 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 and 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. There will be both biweekly and one-on-one conferences.

Faculty

Fiction Craft: Plot/Unplot: Structure, Voice, and the Narrative Unconscious

Craft—Fall

This class will discuss what makes contemporary narrative move. We’ll begin with some fundamental ideas on plot and form, then progress to less traditional thoughts on narrative’s internal circuitry. Each story that we tell is a kind of consciousness with its own repressed activity living in the space around the words. This narrative unconscious—the madness within the syntax and word choice of its symbolic order—is critical to a reader’s engagement. It’s the heat in a story, the daemonic life within the text. But what is this heat? Why do certain stories have it while others don’t? How do we produce it in our own writing? We’ll start with Aristotle’s Poetics—his ideas on tragic vs. epic plots, unity, and magnitude. How do they relate to contemporary structure and dynamics? I’ll show you how we can adapt them to suit more open and fragmented forms. Then we’ll move into theories of the narrative unconscious: the sublime, Duende, the uncanny, abjection. How is creative writing a kind of madness of language? What does John Dewey mean when he says that art is a “living creature”? How—through plot and the distortions of ambiguity, ellipsis, fragmentation, and metaphor—do we navigate that line between internal logic and creative force? Readings will move from somewhat conventional formal structures to more open forms—Paula Fox, Denis Johnson, Emily Holmes Coleman, Henry Green, Michael Ondaatje, and Jenny Erpenbeck. Theory will draw from Aristotle, Dewey, Bergson, Chatman, Barthes, Freud, Bly, Lorca, Lacan, and Kristeva. Weekly writing exercises will produce self-contained flash pieces, using plot in compressed, unconventional ways to support and counter the week’s theory and creative readings.

Faculty

Fiction Craft: Writing for the Screen—The Bullet-Proof Screenplay

Craft—Fall

Screenwriting is not so much a writing discipline as it is one allied with the tenants of the oral tradition of storytelling. In the best scripts, you are telling us your film. —Paul Schrader, Screenwriter/Director, Telluride, CO, 1989

In screenwriting, you show. You don’t tell. —Classic screenwriting adage (attributed to just about every screenwriting guru)

I wrote a beautiful script, and “they” shot it—shot it full of holes—and made a terrible film. —Classic screenwriter lament (attributed to just about every screenwriter unhappy with his/her produced work)

In this graduate craft class, we will explore writing for the screen, be it silver, flat, computer-based, for iPad or smart-phone, et al. The aim is to understand how to create a “bullet-proof screenplay” in which a writer “tells” a film through prose that effectively “shows” what we see and what we hear moment-to-moment, articulating the action (“the doing”) of the characters and thereby revealing the emotional moments of recognition in the characters’ journey. Structured as a combination of seminar craft class along with some workshop-style exchanges, writers will journey through the nature and construct of the screenplay form. We will explore the fundamentals of character, story, world-building, universe and setting, formatting, visual writing, dramatic action, tension, conflict, sequence structure, acts, and screenplay style. Analysis of published screenplays and peer work within the context of a productive environment will help writers hone a critical eye and develop skills to apply to troubleshooting one’s own work. Overall, the writer builds a screenwriter’s tool kit to use for future opportunities that may emerge in writing for the screen. Skills learned in this craft class can be effectively applied to other threads of writing.

Faculty

Fiction Workshop: Literary Journals and Writing

Workshop—Fall

Where do the stories come from that are featured in anthologies like Best American Poetry or the O. Henry Prize Stories? How does the fiction in Paris Review compare to that of Prairie Schooner? What sort of writers are published in Tin House? In Ploughshares? Who publishes in reviews and journals to begin with? In this workshop, we will read various literary journals, both online and in print format, as a way to answer these and other questions, as well as to discover new voices. In terms of writing, this workshop will be held in a traditional format, wherein students deliver their work a week in advance of the workshop and write up formal critiques of the fiction of their fellow writers. There will be writing exercises in addition to weekly readings of journals and critical essays. Literary journals can be sources of great reading and inspiration; becoming familiar with them might help you figure out where your own fiction might one day find a home.

Faculty

Nonfiction Workshop

Workshop—Fall

This course is intended to help each student settle into his/her voice and produce work that resonates with his/her distinct set of experiences, interests, and insights. The prime focus will be personal essay and memoir. The course work will include workshop pieces that students develop in conversation with the instructor and shorter exercises intended to open the student’s awareness of his/her process. We will engage in a deepened practice of reading and learn to draw connections between writing and other creative fields, such as music and film.

Faculty

Pedagogy Craft and Internship: Teaching Good Prose

Craft—Fall

Prerequisites: Completion of at least two semesters in the MFA writing program or permission of the instructor or adviser. If you have not been in touch with SUNY Purchase and plan to register for this craft class, please get in touch with Amparo Rios for next steps.

This course will prepare student-teachers with a working knowledge of theories, methods, and procedures for teaching functional and academic reading and writing skills to first-year college students. The course has two main components, which include attendance in the Teaching Good Prose pedagogy seminar held on Fridays from 2:30 to 4:10 p.m., as well as a supervised teaching assistantship in a freshman writing class at SUNY Purchase. In the pedagogy seminar, readings and class discussions will explore strategies for designing and teaching lessons that will improve students’ ability to compose analytical college essays; express ideas clearly and effectively in well-developed, focused arguments with relevant and adequate evidence; and use the style and conventions of standard academic prose. Student-teachers are supervised by the instructor and supervisors and are required to attend one class per week. Additionally, student-interns are expected to meet with students outside of class for 1-2 hours per week.

Faculty

Poetry Craft: Managing Your Material

Craft—Fall

In a good poem, the elements work together as a unit, just as our own combinations of body and mind work together. But if we are studying body and mind as medical students do, we would soon realize that it is impossible to consider all parts at once. The way to deal with a complicated subject is to look at it part by part.…[Regarding poetry,] we have to talk separately about the elements that make it up—such as imagery, diction, rhythm—even though we know they cannot exist in isolation.  —from Western Wind, by John Frederick Nims

We will examine how poets manage their content by isolating elements such as diction, syntax, structure, pacing, tone, imagery, and metaphor, among others, so that we can see how the elements are working on their own and how they cooperate and don’t cooperate with each other. What decisions is the poet making? And how do those decisions influence us as readers? Assignments throughout the semester will include generating poems, reading, writing a short paper (two-to-three pages), teaching a poem to the class, and more. We will read work by Carson, Francis, McClain, and many others—both as full books and through class handouts. 

Faculty

Speculative Fiction Workshop

Workshop—Fall

There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns. —Octavia Butler

This speculative fiction workshop will be a home for those strange stories that grow outside the manicured gardens of the real. We will interpret “speculative” broadly, welcoming stories of science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, weird literature, and anything in between. Student work will be the center of class, but we will also spend time honing our “imaginative literacy”—our understanding of different genre conventions and traditions. We’ll discuss world-building, horror vs. terror, fairy tale structures, and other concepts to deepen our appreciation and craft. Because genres are, in a sense, large conversations between artists, we will also discuss outside readings from authors such as Ray Bradbury, Kelly Link, Julio Cortazar, Gene Wolfe, Franz Kafka, Ursula K. Le Guin, Ted Chiang, Shirley Jackson, and more (including writers that you love and recommend).

Faculty