Learn about Workshops, Craft Seminars and Contemporary Literature Courses

Foundations of Contemporary Literature (English 300)

This introductory course will allow all first-year MFA students to become familiar with selected core texts in all three of the Program’s genres.  By way of lecture and discussion, the course will cover several literary movements and periods and will offer approaches to numerous foundational texts, including novels, stories, poems, and essays by Jane Austen, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Isak Dinesen, James Baldwin, Sylvia Plath, and Raymond Carver.

 

WRITING WORKSHOPS and TUTORIALS

The core of the program is the writing workshop, which provides an opportunity for student writers to work and learn with established writers on developing their own voice, material, and style.  Workshop leaders—permanent faculty or writers-in-residence—are dedicated to fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect and professionalism.  First- and second-year students work together in the workshop so that over two years students develop a close community and also encounter a variety of perspectives.  Each workshop is paired with a writing tutorial, during which the students meet one-on-one with faculty to discuss work in progress.

 

Fiction Workshop (English 211)

This course is an intensive exploration of the ideas, techniques and forms of fiction with a primary emphasis on the careful analysis and discussion of student works-in-progress.  Students will grapple with the questions of voice, point of view, dramatic movement, structure, rhythm, and imagery, as well as with any and all issues of art and craft that arise from the individual manuscripts. By the end of the course, the students should develop the terminology and the critical skills for revising fiction, and should develop a good understanding about issues and trends in the genre. 

 

Tutorial in Fiction (English 221)

Students will meet over the course of the semester with the instructor of the workshop for individual sessions to review strengths and areas for revision of manuscripts.  The instructor will suggest additional reading, ideas for revision, writing exercises, and specific areas where a student might improve his or her craft. 


Poetry Workshop (English 212)

The primary aim of this course is to allow the students as much freedom as possible in their writing while teaching them the skills to identify their strengths and weaknesses.  The most important work for the student will be to locate his or her style or voice, with encouragement to produce at least one new poem per week.  By the end of the course, the students should develop the terminology and the critical skills for revising poetry, and should develop a good understanding about issues and trends in the genre.  Students may also be encouraged to write a poetic statement in which they will analyze their own poems—with particular attention to their development over the semester.

 

Tutorial in Poetry (English 222)

Students will meet over the course of the semester with the instructor of the workshop for individual sessions to review strengths and areas for revision of manuscripts.  The instructor will suggest additional reading, ideas for revision, writing exercises, and specific areas where a student might improve his or her craft. 

 

Creative Nonfiction Workshop (English 214)

This course gives students the opportunity to explore material in various areas of nonfiction, such as memoir, personal essay, or travel writing. The course addresses issues of voice, scene, point of view, and theme, as well as any other elements of nonfiction writing that will emerge from individual manuscripts.  By the end of the course, students should develop the terminology and the critical skills for revising nonfiction, and should develop a good understanding about issues and trends in the genre. 

 

Tutorial in Creative Nonfiction (English 224)

Students will meet over the course of the semester with the instructor of the workshop for individual sessions to review strengths and areas for revision of manuscripts.  The instructor will suggest additional reading, ideas for revision, writing exercises, and specific areas where a student might improve his or her craft. 

 

CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE COURSES

These courses are graduate-level courses in the contemporary literature of each genre.  They allow students to gain further knowledge of the form in which they work as well as familiarity with current practitioners in the field.

 

Contemporary Fiction (English 231)

A careful study of a range of important works by contemporary writers of novels and short stories with attention to thematic and formal analysis.  Writers to be studied may include Martin Amis, Margaret Atwood, Michael Cunningham, Don DeLillo, Nadine Gordimer, Louise Erdrich, Carole Maso, Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates, and John Edgar Wideman.

 

Contemporary Poetry (English 232)

This course will examine a variety of different trends in contemporary poetry and enable students to distinguish between some of the most important voices.  The course is likely to explore the relations between contemporary poets and some of their precursors with an eye toward how these writers have affected such post-World War II movements as the confessional school, the Beats, open field, the New York School, the Black Arts Movement, and the Language poets.  It will also consider the poetry of the present day in which there is far less of a consensus as to which poets, trends, or schools are central.

 

Contemporary Creative Nonfiction (English 234)

This course is a literary survey of contemporary nonfiction, including the personal essay and narrative nonfiction.  Students will investigate the relationship between art and culture, between the writer and his or her society.  The course will place special emphasis on formal analysis of themes and patterns in contemporary writing.  Writers likely to be included are Jo Ann Beard, Joan Didion, Dave Eggers, Lucy Grealy, Pico Iyer, Mary Karr, Philip Lopate, Richard Rodriguez, Terry Tempest Williams, and Tobias Wolff.

 

CRAFT SEMINARS

Each student is required to take two craft seminars in his or her genre.  Taught by the MFA faculty, the craft seminars cover a range of aesthetic and thematic issues that inform contemporary work in the genre.

 

Craft Seminar in Fiction (English 261)

This course focuses on issues that influence the writing of fiction. Some seminars may focus on issues of craft or aesthetics—narrative structure in the novel, point of view, or dialogue—and others may be thematic in nature—historical fiction, realism, or the postmodern ethos.  Readings may include a wide range fiction from diverse backgrounds and historical periods as well as the students' own works-in-progress.

 

Craft Seminar in Poetry (English 262)

This course focuses on issues that influence the writing of poetry.  Some seminars may focus on issues of craft or aesthetics—figuration, the line, or open field theory—and others will be thematic in nature—politics and poetics, revolution and poetics, psychoanalysis and surrealism, nature poetics, etc. Readings may include a wide range of poetry from diverse sources and historical periods as well as the students' own works-in-progress.

 

Craft Seminar in Creative Nonfiction (English 264)

This course focuses on issues that influence the writing of nonfiction.  Some seminars may focus on issues of craft of aesthetics—narrative structure, point of view, or dialogue—and others may be thematic in nature or explore a subgenre of nonfiction—personal essay, memoir, nature writing, travel writing, humor, the review essay, the lyric essay, literary reportage, biography, etc.  Readings may include a wide range of nonfiction from diverse backgrounds and historical periods as well as the students' own works-in-progress. 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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