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Program Overview

Creative Writing

MA/MFA in Creative Writing

The part-time graduate program in creative writing provides students the opportunity to grow as artists within the specializations of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. The small-group workshop format allows for individual attention from published, award-winning faculty. Flexible scheduling gives students the opportunity to balance their professional, personal and writing lives. While earning their degrees, students connect with other writers at readings and other events in an artistic community that extends beyond the University into Chicagoʼs vibrant literary scene. This program is also the home of literary journal TriQuarterly.

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About the MA/MFA in Creative Writing

Stuart Dybek

In class, I've had cops, bankers, teachers, librarians, musicians, and journalists. That diversity among adults who are so passionate about writing is enormously valuable. Everyone learns something from everyone else.”

Stuart Dybek, faculty member

Creative Writing Program Goals

  • To help students determine the strengths and weaknesses of their writing, and learn how to evaluate criticism of their work
  • To teach students how to take their writing apart, re-think and revise it
  • To show students how to experiment with different styles and forms
  • To guide students in creating a publishable manuscript or portion of one
  • To teach students how to read literature as a writer and a critic
  • To train students to teach creative writing, informed by current pedagogy and classroom experience
  • To give students the opportunity to edit an international literary magazine with their peers
  • To provide students with the tools to create strong applications for jobs in teaching, publishing, and editing

Curriculum for MA and MFA in Creative Writing

MA in Creative Writing

Core Courses (6 courses)

  • 3 workshops in one genre: MCW 411 Poetry Writing Workshop, MCW 413 Fiction Writing Workshop, or MCW 461 Nonfiction Writing Workshop
  • 1 cross-genre course: MCW 479 Poetry for Prose Writers or MCW 480 Prose for Poets
  • 2 graduate-level literature courses

Electives (3 courses)

  • 3 courses drawn from MCW special topics courses, internships in teaching and publishing, literature courses or liberal studies courses. Students can take a maximum of 2 independent study courses as electives

Thesis (1 course)

  • MCW 590 Capstone Writing and Revision
MFA in Creative Writing

The 18-course curriculum includes seven workshops in a concentration, six electives and two thesis courses to complete the MFA program experience

Core Courses (10 courses)

  • 7 workshops in one genre
  • 1 cross-genre course: MCW 479 Poetry for Prose Writers or MCW 480 Prose for Poets
  • 1 seminar on teaching creative writing
  • 1 practicum in teaching or publishing

Electives (6 courses)
6 courses drawn from the MALit program, special topics courses and internships in publishing

  • Must include 3 literature courses (LIT or ENG)
  • Maximum of 2 optional independent study courses

Thesis (2 courses)

  • MCW 589 Capstone Preparation and Writing
  • MCW 590 Capstone Writing and Revision
Electives

Electives are chosen from the graduate course offerings in the Master of Arts in Literature program, creative writing special topics courses (MCW 490) and the seminars and internships (practica) in teaching and publishing. Since good writers also need to be good readers, students must take electives in literary studies. Recent electives include courses on reading poetry; the narrator in fiction, nonfiction and poetry; and writing humor. Independent studies round out the program and provide an opportunity to strengthen writing portfolios.

Thesis

The final project of both the MA and MFA programs is a creative thesis, an original work of high literary merit (judged on the basis of art as well as craft). The creative thesis is structured and revised under the supervision of a faculty member (or faculty mentor) and a second reader. The project may be one long piece or a series of shorter pieces. It may include or be an expansion of work written during the student's course of study as long as it represents a culminating effort to shape stories, prose pieces, a long piece, or a group of poems into a coherent, self-sufficient work. This large-scale project supplements the smaller-scale study of craft with the invaluable experience of creating a larger work. And for students who plan to pursue book-length publication after graduation, the master's creative thesis may be the first version of a work in progress.

MA and MFA in Creative Writing Courses

Explore MA/MFA Creative Writing Courses. You can narrow your course search by day, location or instructor.

Creative Writing Faculty

Learn from a faculty of esteemed writers in small-group workshops where instructors facilitate discussions that help students examine and address strengths and weaknesses in their writing as well as open up possibilities for re-thinking and revising. Get to know the instructors on our Creative Writing Faculty page.

Master's in Creative Writing Admission

Candidates for admission to the MA and MFA programs must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution or its foreign equivalent and possess a strong academic record, preferably in English, writing or related fields. In evaluating MFA applicants, the admissions committee will look for evidence of the ability to create a more sustained final project, for interest in an interdisciplinary program and for interest in learning how to teach.. For a complete list of requirements, see the Master's in Creative Writing Admission page.

Tuition and Financial Aid for Creative Writing

Tuition for the MA/MFA in Creative Writing program at Northwestern is comparable to similar US programs. Financial aid opportunities exist for students at Northwestern. Complete details can be found on the Creative Writing Tuition and Financial Aid pages.

Registration Information for Creative Writing

Already accepted into the Master's in Creative Writing Health program? Get ahead and register for your classes as soon as possible to ensure maxium efficiency in your progress. 

Careers in Creative Writing

Northwestern University’s MA and MFA in creative writing degrees are arts degrees. Students pursue the degrees in order to become better writers, able to create prose and poetry that draw on a full range of the craft. On a more practical level, MA/MFA students become better writers, which prepares them for a variety of careers. For details visit the Creative Writing Career Options page.

Since I started the program I’ve seen all of my poems get published, I’ve applied for a Fulbright and PhD. I was a writer before the program, but I definitely feel like more of a professional writer now. I have that feeling now when something is good enough to be published.”

— Tara Stringfellow, MFA in Creative Writing student

No one knows who the next writer is going to be. They can come out of anywhere, but an MFA helps guarantee that you’ll be serious about reading and writing during your time there. I think that’s one of the greatest things about the program.”

Ross Ritchell, MFA alumnus, author of The Knife
Ross Ritchell

Find out more about Northwestern's MA and MFA in Creative Writing

Core Courses:Course Detail
Introduction to Digital Studies <> IPLS 420-0

How do we better understand the conjuncture of digital technologies and the humanities? What kinds of thinking, research, teaching, politics, and cultural analysis can the digital enhance? How, in turn, do the fields that constitute the humanities (history, literary and language studies, philosophy, art history, musicology, cultural anthropology, media studies, etc.) offer guidance and grounding in today's wireless world? This course introduces students to the emerging field of critical digital studies, which looks at the intersection of digital technology and the humanities. Through a blending of weekly online engagements and three, Saturday afternoon face-to-face seminars, we address topics such as: what is the history of both the humanities and digital approaches to it as an interdisciplinary project? How can we address humanities questions today through new tactics of computational study found in informatics, statistical analysis, data visualization, and "big data" approaches? What new modes of publishing and scholarly communication do digital technologies make possible (multimedia presentation, podcasts, video, visualization, etc.)? How do we understand the ethics and politics of the digital world (surveillance, open source, net neutrality, sustainability, power)? Each week, students conduct readings and viewings, explore case studies, and complete online experiments. We pursue vigorous online discussion and convene in person for a seminar three times over the course of the quarter. Students pursue a final digital project in consultation with the instructor and in relation to individual interests and pursuits (graduate work, professional interests, digital humanities methodologies). Weekly topics include: digital annotation and database construction for close reading; "distant reading" tactics; digital mapping and timeline building; data and archives; network analysis; glitching and deformance for hermeneutic interpretation; and platforms and social media for humanities inquiry. (This course may count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, Digital Studies, History, Religious and Ethical Studies, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Literature, British Literature, Comparative and World Literature, Film, Literature and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course is required of MALS and COAGS students, specializing in Digital Studies. But any interested graduate student may take the course as an elective. Please note, this course is a hybrid which will meet in person on January 13, February 10, and March 17.)


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Poetry Workshop <> MCW 411-0 Through close reading of published work and student poems, this workshop focuses on the elements of the art of poetry and on the process of writing poems, examining language, line, syntax, rhythm, sound, figures of speech, structure, and the implications of different poetic stances. Poetics and craft are at the heart of discussion, annotation, and revisions.
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Fiction Workshop <> MCW 413-0

Using student work and published short stories, the class examines the craft of fiction writing. Students analyze stories by examining structure, point of view, style and other elements of craft and technique to answer the question, "What is this piece about?" With an emphasis on developing voice, students write and revise two short stories for instructor and peer review. (See syllabus for the focus of each particular workshop.)


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Fiction Writing Workshop <> MCW 413-0

We write, we revise, we write some more: most workshops focus on those bookends, but this course is designed to help you discover and internalize revision practices that may work best for you. We'll generate two pieces during our first two class meetings, and we'll spend the rest of the quarter subjecting them to radical modes of revision.


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Fiction Writing Workshop <> MCW 413-0

In this fiction workshop we will explicate and critique novel excerpts and short stories, as well as student work. The focus of the class is craft in all its aspects. For example, we will consider the many uses of reported speech, why a writer might choose one point of view over another, what makes for a successful opening, what work has to be done during the development of a novel or story to create a powerful and resonant ending, how a work of fiction finds and develops the “language” by which it speaks and makes meaning, what the keys to creating characters that are complex and compelling are, and how a writer recognizes when he or she is too present in his or her own work, undermining the delicate balance between reader, writer, and character—the sacred trinity of fiction.


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Fiction Writing Workshop <> MCW 413-DL

In this inaugural online fiction workshop, students will write and submit for workshop discussion two original short stories or stand-alone novel chapters, take part in prescheduled guided writing sessions, and participate in craft discussions of assigned texts by contemporary fiction writers. Especial emphasis will be placed on the art of characterization and on the study of point of view.


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Creative Nonfiction Workshop <> MCW 461-0

Creative nonfiction workshops may focus on essays, memoirs, cultural criticism, literary journalism, nature or travel writing or related forms. Discussions center on student work along with analysis of a wide variety of selected readings. The class examines modes of creative nonfiction, authorial distance, structure, aspects of style and other elements of craft. Students submit two works for review and revision. (See syllabus for the focus of each particular workshop.)


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Creative Nonfiction Workshop <> MCW 461-0

As Chicago and cities around the world confront tension from mounting social inequalities and dramatic environmental change, this workshop focuses on how writers have in the past and continue to use the powers of image, language, narrative, fact, and rhetorical skills to document, challenge power, and give voice to the voiceless in the ongoing evolution of the metropolis. Nonficiton in particular with its flexibility in form and style has always had a vital role in both shaping public debate and policy but also in upholding justice and democratic institutions. Readings range from the modern to the historical, from Solnit and Baldwin to Plato and Whitman. Assignments challenge students to consider current issues related to Chicago or elsewhere as well as experiences of travel.


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Creative Nonfiction Workshop <> MCW 461-0

Literary journalists build stories from facts, which they gather obsessively. Instead of just dipping their toes in the lake, they dive to the bottom. But literary journalists do more than convey information; they engage and move readers with techniques usually associated with the writing of fiction. In this lit j class, you’ll study work by masters of the craft. You’ll talk about reporting methods, especially interviewing and observation, and the dramatic devices literary journalists rely on to create compelling narratives. And, of course, you’ll try lit j for yourself, writing a 2,000- to 2,500-word piece that will be either a story in itself or part of a longer one you envision. There will be several short assignments as well. You’ll learn from each other in the weekly discussions.


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Poetry for Prose Writers <> MCW 479-0

This class examines how the art of poetry can improve the writing of fiction and creative nonfiction. By examining what strategies are shared across genres and what distinguishes one genre from another, students explore how the elements of both genres work in isolation and in concert with one another. This course begins with an introduction to the major elements of poetry and moves across genres to examine similar modes and impulses in literary prose. Previously known as Writing across Genres; may only be taken once.


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Prose for Poets <> MCW 480-0

The class examines how prose strategies, resources, and devices can apply to poetry. Students explore the elements and models of prose structure and prose style, including syntax and the sentence; detail and image; diction; the rhetoric of feeling; narration from the first-person point of view and the third. Readings include fiction and nonfiction. This course fulfills the cross-genre requirement for poetry students and may be taken as an elective by fiction and nonfiction students.


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Teaching Creative Writing <> MCW 570-0

This seminar incorporates a theory-to-practice approach to teaching creative writing. Students examine different philosophies and modes of teaching - exercises, critical papers, workshopping creative work, and reading for writing. Topics include the workshop, how to teach revision, critical analysis and journaling, issues of craft, the job market, and how to apply for a teaching job. Students in this class develop ideas and material that they teach in community workshops and other educational events.


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Practicum in Teaching <> MCW 579-0

Student-teaching experience as an assistant teacher or seminar leader at an institution approved by SCS (high-school level or higher); worth one unit of credit. Students have the option to develop and teach their own courses. The MCW teaching internship director supervises the student's academic work, which consists of lesson plans, reports, and other assignments as appropriate. The supervisor at the place of internship submits an evaluation to the teaching internship director. Grades are assigned on the basis of the student's interaction with the host institution and submission of academic work. May not be repeated for credit. Registration instructions are in the course documents section of the MCW Program Blackboard site at https://courses.northwestern.edu/webapps/login/


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Thesis Research <> MCW 590-0

This final project is meant to represent the culmination of students’ experience in the program and must demonstrate mastery of the curriculum and ability to conduct sustained independent research and analysis. The project may be applied or may be a traditional scholarly paper, in both cases a write-up following the paper’s program-specific guidelines is required. Students must submit a proposal and secure a first reader in order to register; for further details students are advised to review the student handbook and contact their academic advisor.


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Elective Courses:Course Detail
Religion, Existentialism, and Film <> IPLS 401-0

In the aftermath of the World War I, many artists and filmmakers asked new questions about the relationship between realism and religion. Could one reconcile concrete reality (or realism) with faith in the other-worldly? Many of the artists under discussion in the course drew upon themes that had already been raised by Kierkegaard in the 19th century. What is the relationship between religion and modernity, faith and ethics, reality and the supernatural, observable phenomena and invisible causes? How does one make sense of death in a meaningless universe? Is the universe meaningless? Can meaning be found in realism itself? This course asks students to grapple simultaneously with philosophy and film. We will dig into the language of existential philosophy and compare it to the language of film. We will read Kierkegaard and Sartre and watch films made by Robert Bresson, Luis Buñuel, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ingmar Bergman, and Woody Allen. In so doing, we will study how mid-to-late 20th century filmmakers sought to understand and portray life's many meanings, presenting protagonists who actively take up religious life, or who consider themselves inhabiting a godless and meaningless universe. In both genres, we will think about the problem of “experience” and how to narrate it. We will discuss the relationship between realism, atheism, Christianity and modernity, as well as the role of Christian symbolism in existentialist literature and film. (This course may count towards the American Studies, History, Religious and Ethical Studies, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may count towards the Film, Literature and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


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Imagining the Internet: Fiction, Film and Theory <> IPLS 401-0

Much recent fiction, film, and theory are concerned with representing the internet and online environments. Sometimes cyberspace is depicted as a continuation of previous media such as television, cinema, or telephone, but often it is envisioned as a new frontier. This course will examine the ways in which digital interfaces appear in cultural discourses. We consider how technological objects and tools participate in shaping elements of our culture that may appear natural, logical, or timeless. Our guiding questions will include the following: In what ways are these narratives shaping collective perceptions of the internet? How have virtual technologies challenged experiences of language, gender, sex, race, ethnicity, and location? We will focus on literary and filmic representations of social networking, gaming, news delivery, and artificial intelligence. Following a Cultural Studies model for inquiry, this course will be text-based with require that you develop close reading strategies, as well as revise your work. (This course may count towards the American Studies, Digital Studies, History, Religious and Ethical Studies, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Film, Literature and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. But any interested graduate student may take the course as an elective. Please note, this course is a hybrid which will meet in person on January 13, February 10, and March 17.)


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Asian Religions in Lit & Film <> IPLS 402-0

Since the age when the maritime explorers searched for a passage to India and a shorter route to the East, Asia has held a fascination for the West and the religions and cultures of Asia have influenced Western literature, philosophy and religion. This course explores some of the classic literature of the Asian religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism, and also considers some of the ways that this literature has been interpreted in the modern period in both Asian and Western film and literature. Among our readings will be two of the great epics of Hinduism, the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana, as well as key writings from the Buddhist tradition, and the Chinese Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing). We shall also view examples of Asian and Western film and read modern works by authors such as Thoreau, Forster and Kerouac in order to inquire how this Asian literature and its religious themes have been interpreted and re-imagined in the modern period. (This course may count toward the American, World and Comparative literature, or Literature, film, and visual culture specializations in MALit. It may count toward the American studies, History, and Religion and ethical studies specializations in MALS. It may also count toward any of these specialization certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


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New Documentary Film <> IPLS 492-0

Documentary film has been one of the most acclaimed genres of film since 2000. Numerous documentary films have made valuable political or social statements (Fahrenheit 9/11) while others have simply entertained us (March of the Penguins). What all documentary films do is constrict a vision of reality – whether it is the perspective of a president, the crimes of a serial killer, the lives of a group of penguins or the courage of cancer survivors. We will examine the impact of reality television on the genre. Through the screening of documentaries both within and outside of class, we will consider documentaries as performative acts. Their very fluidity and instability will allow us to examine the differing spectatorial reactions to these films. (This course may count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count towards the Film, Literature, and Visual Culture or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


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Queer Theory <> IPLS 492-0

This course will introduce you to Queer Theory and theories of sexuality, emphasizing the practice of reading theory from a variety of textual sources as well as conceiving of sexualities within both local and transnatinoal contexts. We will trace the development of both the term queer and the history of queer theory, beginning with foundational texts about sexuality and its regulation by Foucault and seminal essays about queer theory by Eve Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Michael Warner and Lauren Berlant. We will then read canonical essays by a variety of queer theorists which will serve the basis for analyzing several books and films including Lawrence Chua's Gold by the Inch, Jules Rosskam’s Transparent, and the British television series, Metrosexuality. Discussions will query how queer theory formulates racial, class and national identities in relation to sexuality, and how it might offer politics beyond those based on identity. In the duration of the course, we will discuss "gay" versus "queer"; processes for conducting a “queer critique”; the historical emergence of the concept of sexuality; the emergence and trajectory of Queer Theory as a disciplinary category; techniques of normalization; the authority of experience; politics beyond identity politics; the aesthetics of self-formation, self-care, self-replication, and selfdissolution; polymorphous perversity; intersectionality and its relationship to Queer Theory; race and class as key interventions into the Queer Theory canon; trans theory as it intersects with and contributes to with Queer Theory; intergenerational sex; transnational queer theories and concerns; how queer theory formulates racial, class and national identities in relation to sexuality. Reading list to include: Michel Foucault History of Sexuality Vol 1 Laurence Chua Gold by the Inch Ed. Hall and Jagose Routlege Queer Studies Reader (2013). (This course may count towards the History and Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the liberal studies graduate and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


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Black Chicago <> IPLS 492-0

This course surveys the major aesthetic, political, economic, social, and cultural developments of the African American population in the city of Chicago from its founding by Jean Baptiste du Sable, an African American man, to the present day. This course will consider the role of black Chicagoans in the 19th century, through the Civil War, Gilded Age, Progressive Era, World War I, Chicago Race Riot of 1919, World War I and the Great Depression, the Civil Rights movement, the 1970s and 1980s up to the present day. Special emphasis will be placed upon the racial segregation of Chicago, the Black Panthers, and the relationship between the Black Chicago police and the Chicago Police Department. We will be also be exploring Black Chicago outside of the classroom. Analysis of primary source documentation of the African American press will be included in this course. (This course may  count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, History or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.This course may count towards the American Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs.  It may also count as an elective in the creative writing program.)


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Defining Chicago <> IPLS 492-0

In this course, we will examine two parallel, though often intersecting, discourses which attempt to define Chicago: formal urban planning documents and literary representations of the city. From Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett’s 1909 Plan of Chicago onwards, Chicago powers-that-be have tried to transform the chaotic city into the City Beautiful (and/or the City Profitable) with formal planning documents, some aspects of which (when enacted by law) transform the cityscape itself. These documents demonstrate deep and complicated relationships between economic forces, political power, and human agency and identity. Meanwhile, Chicago’s poets and fiction writers shape our understanding of American identity in that same dynamic cityscape. In this course, we will examine planners as poets, and poets as planners to explore the evolution of Chicago from the early 20th Century to today. (This course may count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, History, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Literature or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


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20th C British & American Lit <> LIT 405-0

What's modern about modern literature? How did new forms and experimental styles emerge from early twentieth-century conditions and events during this "lethal century" of rapid technological development, more violent than any previous era? The literature of this period confronts that violence in many forms and on many fronts, from racialized economic and cultural violence of European empires in Ireland, Africa, and India to rising totalitarianism, antisemitism, genocide, and war, from decolonization and its vicissitudes to the "clash" between a declining "west" and various rising "non-wests." In this seminar we'll grapple with the exhilarating intellectual challenges and the fierce, compelling new beauty of several key works from this extraordinary period. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness bears witness to brutal racialized European imperialism. W. B. Yeats and James Joyce envision Ireland's future after a long struggle for freedom from centuries of English rule in utterly different ways. World War I, in which British war poets fought, wrote, and in some cases died, casts its shadow over T. S. Eliot's Waste Land. Women's struggles for freedom of body and mind--citizenship, suffrage, economic independence, public speech--­reverberate in the art and thought of Bloomsbury, including essays and novels by Virginia Woolf published by her Hogarth Press. Seeing new challenges for European languages in a rapidly shrinking world, Ernest Fenollosa and Ezra Pound experimented with translating classical Chinese poetry into the radically different grammar of English. E. M. Forster faces off western and eastern modes of thought in Dr. Aziz's trial in A Passage to India. "Postcolonial" writers grapple with violence in the aftermath of empire. We'll think about the often remarked "difficulty" of modern literature and art, and about aesthetic and ethical dimensions of their resistance to (fictions of) transparency as we approach these works in the spirit of what Edward Said calls a "worldly" recognition of the historical moments that inspired their creators and still illuminate them for us. (This course may count towards the American literature and British literature specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


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Topics: 1890s British Lit <> LIT 405-0

The label of “decadence” was deployed by both detractors and champions of British literature in the final decade of the nineteenth century. Social critics of decadence associated it with degeneracy and decline. Those writers and artists who identified with the movement claimed it as a badge of distinction, and its flagship literary magazine, The Yellow Book, set the tone with its devotion to transgressive behavior. Some influence can be traced to the work of the French symbolist poets as well as Joris-Karl Huysmans, whose novel A rebours (“Against the Grain”), was dubbed the “breviary” of decadence. Looking further back, the mid-Victorian visual art and poetry of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood must also be considered formative. Much of the period's writing still has the power to shock. Thomas Hardy, the last of the great Victorian novelists, and a writer who never self-identified as decadent, nevertheless ceased writing novels after critics lambasted both Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1892) and Jude the Obscure (1895) as sexually immoral. One critic called the latter "Jude the Obscene.” William Butler Yeats began his career in the company of the Rhymers' Club, a group of aesthetes more remembered for their drug habits than their poetic output. Bram Stoker wrote his influential masterpiece, Dracula, in 1897, and to this day his delicious tale of pansexual vampires has been endlessly generative in popular culture, as well as influential in rethinking the terms of feminism and sexuality more generally. The New Woman was a principal theme. George Gissing's The Odd Women and George Bernard Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession both appeared in 1893. Still, it was Oscar Wilde, playwright and author of The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), who most vividly dominates the decade. Put on trial, found guilty, and imprisoned on charges of "gross indecency," Wilde ushered in a new age when he referred to "the love that dare not speak its name." (This course may count towards the British Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master's in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program. Please note, this course is a hybrid which will meet in person on April 28, May 19, and June 9.)


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20th C Lit: Joyce and Woolf <> LIT 405-0

In this seminar we will study two landmark novelists whose works still reverberate around the globe: the Irish expatriate James Joyce and the English writer and critic Virginia Woolf (each 1882-1941). Living and writing in a period of accelerating scientific, technological, social, political, and economic change as well as civil and world war, each created radically new narrative forms to register modern time and modern times from the antithetical vantage points, respectively, of colonial Dublin and the imperial London metropolis. Through a selection of each author’s major works, we’ll explore their creative interventions in literary genres (e.g., short story, autobiographical fiction, epic, elegy, the novel) in light of a host of influences; among others, theories of the unconscious and “the psychopathology of everyday life”; scapegoat dynamics in theory and everyday practice; relations among bodies, desire, gender, representational strategies; performance (studied and unconscious) and theatricality; loss and elegy; the power of love; the scalpel of wit; the social life of comedy and humor; the socio-economic sex/gender system, including marriage and prostitution, as keys to political authority; the powers and pleasures of language in their modernist medleys of voices and styles: interior monologue, dialogue, poetry, news, advertising, jokes, parody, obfuscation, song, music, play script, letters, catechism, allusion, citation, non-English words, silence. We will approach these challenging, exhilarating, deeply rewarding books in ways playful and critical, jocoserious and analytic, each of us seeking singular revelations with serious purpose and imaginative freedom.

Requirements: Active, informed participation; short weekly analytic and interpretive exercises; oral presentation; proposal and seminar project.

(This course may count towards the British Literature, Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


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Victorian Travel & Crime <> LIT 405-0

This seminar will explore Victorian travel and crime fiction, looking at the interpenetration of popular and serious literature during the rise of the British Empire and the expansion of the United States. We will examine several important literary narratives that develop the concept of travel—as a form of escape, as a search for knowledge, as a source of adventure, and as an instrument in empire-building—in order to address its role in forming the identity of both individuals and nations. We will also discuss the growing importance of sensational (mystery and crime) fiction, examining its cultural and historical contexts, as well as its influence on serious writers such as Dickens, Conrad, and James. (This course may count towards the British Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master's in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


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Anglo-American Mysteries <> LIT 405-0

Why is mystery fiction (aka detective or crime fiction) such a popular genre, read across social strata and generating material for film and TV? What are the ways in which mysteries have influenced serious literary fiction? To address these questions we will explore the development of Anglo-American crime fiction from its mid-nineteenth-century origins to its global expansion today. We will examine the historical and social conditions for the emergence and development of the popular genre (urbanization of Europe and America; rise of the British Empire; importance of the inter-war period; Cold War, etc.). This will allow us to discuss the structure and evolution of formula fiction and its role in popular and high culture, its reflection of the preoccupations of Western societies, and the ways in which canonical writers have used elements of mystery fiction in their own literature. Readings will include works by representative mystery writers (Poe, Conan Doyle, Christie, Chandler), as well as literary fiction by Pynchon, O’Brien and Atkinson. (This course may count towards the British Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the liberal studies graduate and advanced graduate study certificate programs. )


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The Seven Deadly Sins <> LIT 405-0

This course will consider representations of the seven deadly sins in Renaissance thought, art, and literature of the western European tradition, with a particular focus on the English canon. Texts will include both visual and textual artifacts, including paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Hieronymus Bosch; narrative poetry by John Skelton and Edmund Spenser; lyric poetry by Ben Jonson and Andrew Marvell; and prose sermons and essays by John Donne and Michel de Montaigne. (All texts will be provided in translation.) To complement the Renaissance texts, we will read contemporary essays about the conception and practice of the seven deadly sins in contemporary secular culture. By comparing early modern and contemporary conceptions of the sins, we will foster a larger conversation about the cultural history of western ethics and morality. (This course may count towards the British Literature, Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Religious and Ethical Studies or Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


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Conceptions of the Body in Midieval Literature <> LIT 405-0

Forthcoming.


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Jane Austen and The Rise of The Novel <> LIT 405-05

This course will trace the development of the English novel from travel narrative, Gothic and sentimental fiction to the realism of Jane Austen. We will read selections from Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), usually considered the first English novel, and from 18th-C. Gothic and sentimental fiction to compare these to Austen’s realistic comedies of manners. The course will focus on Austen’s novels, from her parody of Gothic and sentimental romances in Northanger Abbey to her satire of British society in Persuasion. We will also look at the enduring popularity and afterlife of Jane Austen’s oeuvre and current “Austenmania” with its plethora of film adaptations, sequels, and parodies, including a more serious treatment of Austen’s fictional world in Jo Baker’s 2013 novel Longbourn, the story of Pride and Prejudice told from the perspective of the servants. (This course may count towards the British Literature, Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


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Lit. and Cultures of 1968 <> LIT 480-0

This course focuses on literary and cultural engagements with the near-revolutionary events of Mai '68 in Paris and the social conditions preceding and following them. Our primary materials include films, novels, and essays on consumer society and everyday life in the modern world, the situation of women and feminine desire in patriarchal society, and calls for revolutionary change in various arenas, including everyday life, language, and desire. Throughout the course, we will pay particular attention to issues and critiques related to everyday life and consider the French events and cultural production in relation to those in other areas of the world, including the US. (This course may count towards the Comparative and world literaturespecializations in the master's in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


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Postmodern Film <> LIT 480-0

This course will explore the place of film in postmodern culture. We will examine how the aesthetic and narrative forms of film have been reinvented by postmodern film makers, as well as the ways in which the most important of these recent films have (from a variety of ideological and aesthetic perspectives) contested the dominant culture of postmodernity. The course will begin by providing the conceptual and historical background for an understanding of postmodernism, through an analysis of a number of key films of the ’60s and ‘70s. Some of the interrelated themes of these films (including works by such directors as Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Altman, Jacques Tati, Ridley Scott, and Chris Marker) are the new experiences of urban space characteristic of postmodern culture; the new cultural forms associated with the triumph of consumerism; and the emergence of a new global culture of the image. We will then explore a number of problems central to current debates about the nature and limits of postmodernism—such as the place of dystopian and utopian fantasy in postmodernity; the possibilities of and alternatives to realist representation of postmodern experience; the representation of new forms of sexual and ethnic identity and the intertwining individual and collective histories in an age of globalization—through discussions of cinematic works by directors from Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia, including such film makers as Alain Resnais, Gianni Amelio, Patricio Guzmàn, Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, Jim Jarmusch, Abderrahmane Sissako, Agnès Varda, Todd Haynes, Djibril Diop Mambéty, Quentin Tarantino, Raoul Ruiz and Tsai Ming-Liang. (This course may count towards the Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


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An Exploration of German Film <> LIT 480-0

What beckons people to the metropolis? What draws crowds to the cinema? Why should we think "cinema" in tandem with "the city"? Departing from these questions, we will analyze relations between cinema and the city, using Germany as our geopolitical launching pad. Drawing on a range of classic and lesser-known (but mesmerizing) films from the Weimar period onward, we will visit the real and imagined cities of Germany, evaluating how space and social relationships are imagined in the German metropolis and, in some cases, between a German and an “extra-territorial” city. Our travels will take us to the cities of Hamburg and Istanbul, Frankfurt and Jakarta, and Berlin and New York, among other locations. Critical questions steering our cosmopolitan navigations include: how does urban space influence how we think about forms of national, gendered, ethnic, sexual, and class identity? How does the historical network of social relationships in the urban setting--and in cinematic form--organize our view of political and social networks we now inhabit? How should we analyze urban economies in the context of cinema? Approaches to these questions will include: formal and aesthetic analysis of film and the historical background and cultural context of the films under consideration (including, Walter Ruttmann's Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis (1927); Fritz Lang's M (1931); Eduard von Borsody's Wunschkonzert (1940), Rainer Werner Fassbinder's The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), Fatih Akin's Head-On (2004), and Christoph Hochhäusler's The City Below (2010). These films will be considered in tandem with a selection of classical texts on modernity, mass society, and theories of space. (This course may count towards the Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


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Latin Amer. & Latina/o Sci-Fi <> LIT 480-0

While science fiction has often been thought of as an English-language genre, in fact Latin America has its own rich history of science fiction writing. This course offers an introduction to science fiction literature and film in Latin America. Beginning with a critical definition of the genre (and the ways in which it differs from “magical realism” and the fantastic), we will examine some early examples of science fiction in Spanish language literature by writers such as Eduardo Holmberg and Eduardo Urzaiz. We will then read some now-classic texts that can be considered science fiction, such as Adolfo Bioy Casares’ The Invention of Morel, Jorge Luis Borges’ “Tlön, Urqbar, Orbis Tertius,” and the absurdist short stories of Mexican writer Juan José Arreola. Finally, we will trace the regional shift from science fiction to cyberpunk through texts like Cuban writer Yoss’s Planet for Rent and films such as Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer, looking at the ways in which recent Latin American and Latina/o writers and directors have expanded on and experimented with this sub-genre. As we read, we will seek to understand how science fiction navigates the divide between "popular" and "elite" literature, its function as a form of social criticism, and the ways in which writers and filmmakers have used science fiction to interrogate social categories such as race, class, and gender. We will also ask what might make science fiction from this region different from science fiction produced elsewhere. (This course may count towards the Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


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Slum Cinema <> LIT 480-0

This seminar is about slums, as much about their socio-cultural dynamics as about their cinematic representations. Slums are proliferating across the globe at an extraordinarily rapid rate. Today more than one billion people live in slums and that number is expected to double by 2030. By 2050, two thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities and a vast majority of them in slums or slum-like-conditions. We do, in fact, as Mike Davis puts it, live on a planet of slums. Life in the slums as described and analyzed both in scholarly studies and in popular media is one of the most dynamic points of intersection of the good, the bad, and the ugly. The material conditions of life, especially sanitary conditions that severely compromise public health, are palpably “ugly.” The “bad” is pervasive in slums: crime and corruption, violence and intimidation, sheer poverty, inequality and injustice point to the general abuse of human beings by the members of the same species. On the other hand, there is also much that is “good” in slums: resilience in the face of adversity, community spirit, creative and economic use of scarce resources etc. Without celebrating the slums, there is much to learn from slums for the society at large. This seminar is not just about films about slums. Slum Cinema is also not a film course as such. We will be using the cinematic representations of all sorts (feature films, documentaries, TV mini-series etc.) to examine the slum as a space of life and work of billions of people across the globe. This seminar will focus on the fact that a significant part of creative cultural production (films, TV series, music, novels, comics etc) takes place against backdrop of slums or slum life. Films to include: City of God (Brazil, 2002), Slumdog Millionaire (India, 2008), District 9 (South Africa location, 2009), Ali Zaoua (Morocco, 2000), Tsotsi (South Africa 2005), Gangs of New York (USA, 2002) and La Haine (France, 1995). The seminar has a very explicit global focus as it seeks to juxtapose cinematic representations from varied national/cultural terrains, from both from the advanced countries and from the developing countries of the global south. (This course may count towards the Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


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French & Francophone Women’s Writing <> LIT 480-0

The course is devoted to the exciting efflorescence of women’s writing in French that began in the postwar period with a veritable bursting forth of novels by women--existentialist novels, working class novels, novels of interethnic love and loss, novels responding to psychoanalytic and materialist feminist theories, including novels exploring (or questing) a feminine relation to desire and sexuality, writings of/on the body, writings of revolution, and literary engagements with the linguistic, racial, and sexual complexities of living or writing in diaspora. Our work will span the period from Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, her groundbreaking 1949 attempt to understand what it means to be(come) a woman, to the second wave feminisms of the late 1960s and ‘70s, to our contemporary era. We will read short theoretical pieces by psychoanalytic feminists and by lesbian materialists to develop an understanding of the intellectual context in which creative writers worked, but the vast majority of our readings will be literary. These will include works by some the most talented and critically esteemed women writing in French, such as Marguerite Duras, Assia Djebar, Linda Lê, Anne Garréta, Marie Darrieussecq, Nina Bourouai, and Chloê Delaume. We will complete our work with a films by female filmmakers working in the last half century. (This course may count towards the Comparative and World Literature or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


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Topics in Lit: The Jazz Age <> LIT 492-0

In this course, students will read a selection of poetry, criticism, comics, film and fiction dealing with a central concern for American writers of the 1920s: the nature of art. The focusing lens will be depictions of parallels between artistic creation and romantic love/sexual procreation (as the term "jazz" refers to both, the musical art form and sex), and how these depictions grapple with the sense of cultural crisis that informs so much of modernism. Our texts will include Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises and several short stories; Kay Boyle's short fiction; Dos Passos', Manhattan Transfer; poetry by Pound, Cummings, Stein, Eliot, and others; as well as pop-culture texts like Harriman's Krazy Kat and Disney's Mickey Mouse. We will pay special attention to how various sorts of subject position (including, but not limited to, race, class, and gender) influence how writers portray their own creative projects.  (This course may count towards the American Literature or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Studies or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


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Topics: Proust <> LIT 492-0

This course will be devoted to an intense engagement with one of the major figures in the history of literature, Marcel Proust, and to his In Search of Lost Time, which remains a crucial text in the development of modern thought. The focus will be on four volumes of the Search: Swann's Way, Within a Budding Grove, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Time Regained. We will explore Proust's reinvention of the novel as a form in relation to a number of Proustian problems and themes: his analyses of desire, perversion and sexuality; his reflections on the nature of time and memory; and his exploration of the relationship of art to life. We will also consider Proust's powers as a satirist and critic of ideology, who mercilessly dismantled the individual and collective illusions of his contemporaries. (This course may count towards the Comparative and World Literature or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


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After the American Century <> LIT 492-0

What was the "American Century"? When did it end, and how do we understand the emerging formation that follows in its wake? What are the limitations to understanding the ways in which "America" as a signifier travels through the world? This course takes on these overarching questions by juxtaposing statements (both historical and contemporary) about "America," the "American Century," and the "post-American world" with primary texts (fiction, film, and popular culture), and putting them in conversation to see what they have to say to one another. There are three units: 1) the relationship between American cultural production (especially literature and film) with the end of World War II and rise to global power of the U.S., and the ways the two played off each other. 2) The disruption of technologies and financial processes of "globalization" coincident with the crises in American and global politics in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 3) Whether (or not) "everything changed" on 9/11/01, and how writers, intellectuals and artists both within and without the U.S. have responded to the various tragedies of September 11.

Teaching Method(s): SeminarEvaluation Method(s): Two papers, class presentation, regular participation.

Texts include: Henry Luce, Ralph Ellison, Norman Mailer, Jane Bowles, Joan Didion, Patricia Highsmith, Dave Eggers, Arjun Appadurai, Fareed Zakaria, Gayatri Spivak. Films such as: Casablanca, Star Wars, The Godfather, Avatar. These are indications of the type of works we will consider, not a definitive list. Substitutions will be satisfying.

Counts towards the American literature specialization and the Comparative & World Literature specialization.


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Special Topics: Proust <> LIT 492-0

This course will be devoted to an intense engagement with one of the major figures in the history of literature, Marcel Proust, and to his In Search of Lost Time, which remains a crucial text in the development of modern thought. The focus will be on four volumes of the Search: Swann's Way, Within a Budding Grove, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Time Regained. We will explore Proust's reinvention of the novel as a form in relation to a number of Proustian problems and themes: his analyses of desire, perversion and sexuality; his reflections on the nature of time and memory; and his exploration of the relationship of art to life. We will also consider Proust's powers as a satirist and critic of ideology, who mercilessly dismantled the individual and collective illusions of his contemporaries.

Counts toward the Comparative & World Literature specialization.


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Race, Space & Place in Chicago <> LIT 492-0

Chicago is still the most segregated big city in America, and it has a long history of writers who represented its racial and ethnic conflicts. In this course, we will read and discuss the canon of Chicago’s African-American literary tradition, along with other writers who represent how American identity is shaped by the Chicago, by issues of access to space, and the freedom (or lack thereof) to move through the urban landscape.

Our texts will include: Gwendolyn Brooks, Selected Poems; Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun; Richard Wright, Native Son; James T. Farrell, Chicago Stories; Bill Granger, Time for Frankie Coolin; and Bruce Norris, Clybourne Park.

(This course may count towards the American Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, History, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the liberal studies graduate and advanced graduate study certificate programs. )


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Contemporary Adaptation <> LIT 492-0

Courses in literature-to-film adaptation often emphasize canonical and historically distant works by such authors as Shakespeare, Austen, or the Victorians. This course instead centers on contemporary novels and short stories as well as their film adaptations, mostly but not exclusively produced in Hollywood. Beyond simply comparing these texts in terms of story or style, we will ask how literary fiction has itself changed in a 21st-century media environment where film rights are often sold before novels get finished, and where financing, production, media circulation, and creative processes constantly change. We will read American stories that have been adapted differently by U.S. and international filmmakers, and we will contemplate the politics that appear to motivate which texts get adapted -- and which themes are considered "literary," "prestigious," or globally marketable in an era when comic books, video games, and prior movies inspire more adaptations than do recent novels or plays. Along the way, we will master key skills of formal analysis and thematic argument regarding both literature and film. Key texts are likely to include "Brokeback Mountain" (Proulx), Children of Men (James), No Country for Old Men (McCarthy), "So Much Water So Close to Home" (Carver), Oil! (Sinclair), Atonement (McEwan), "Lust, Caution" (Zhang), The Reader (Schlink), and Persepolis (Satrapi), as well as the movies derived from these texts.  (This course may count towards the American literature, British Literature, Comparative and World Literature, Film, Literature, and Visual Culture or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


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Lit of Amer. Century & After <> LIT 492-0

This course looks at the way in which U.S. writers imagined both the domestic scene and the greater world in the wake of the rising status of the United States as a global power. In the post-WWII period, writers rethought many of the presumptions about America’s place in the world and revised earlier narratives about Americans abroad and internationalism. In the twenty-first century, those presumptions changed again, both because of the changing geopolitical status of the U.S. and the impact of the digital age. This course will take a look at two extended moments: the early cold war of the late 1940s and 1950s; and the first decade of the 21st century. Authors will include writers such as: Ralph Ellison, Norman Mailer, Sylvia Plath, Paul Bowles, Gwendolyn Brooks, Dave Eggers, Claire Messud, Junot Díaz, Craig Thompson, Jennifer Egan. (This course may count towards the American Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Studies or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the liberal studies graduate and advanced graduate study certificate programs. )


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Inventing the American Novel <> LIT 492-0

With attention to some of the most important American writers, this course focuses on different forms of aesthetic experimentation that authors use to invent and reinvent the novel. In addition to analyzing the ways writers blur and reframe the boundaries of the novel by engaging other sub-genres of literature (including, for example, visual art, drama, and non-fiction prose), the course will investigate how themes of desire, history, and science are not only represented within narrative fiction but how they transform and render metamorphic the novel’s very form. Writers may include Herman Melville, Edith Wharton, William Faulkner, Samuel R. Delany, Toni Morrison, Don Delillo, Philip Roth, Mark Danielewski, and Alison Bechdel. (This course may count towards the American Literature or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Studies or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


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21st-Century Latino Literature <> LIT 492-0

This course will examine some of the exciting and innovative Latina/o literary works produced since the beginning of the new millennium, including novels by Junot Diáz and Luis Alberto Urrea, short stories by Joy Castro, a memoir by Carmen Giménez Smith, and poetry by Rosa Alcalá and US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. Latinidad as an umbrella category comprising many diverse groups, each with its own history and cultural traditions, is a relatively recent phenomenon. But how did this group come into existence as a social phenomenon, let alone as a literary field? In addition to considering this question, we will pay special attention to how the works we study portray relationships among different US Latino groups and between Latinos and other US ethnic and minority groups. The tensions between the internal divisions of latinidad and its lateral affiliations make this body of literature vital for anyone interested in understanding the complexity of twenty first-century American racial formations. (This course may count towards the American Literature, Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


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Literature and Wartime <> LIT 492-0

From the Civil War to the Lost Generation, and from the Vietnam conflict to the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, there has long been an intimate relationship between war and American literature. In the past decade, a number of returning US veterans have published novels and short stories set in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of them ambitious and sophisticated. Works set in and around war have frequently been places where questions about national identity and the changing status of the United States in the world have been played out in rich ways. In the past century, new technologies of warfare and the ever changing media used to report war has had a profound impact on the way these conflicts have been experienced and translated to a distant public. This course explores the relationship between literature (and some film) representing war, the historical understanding of the opposing side (the enemy), and narrative techniques developed to make sense of what is an inherently confusing situation. We will focus especially on World War II, Vietnam, and the 21st century conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, with comparative attention to representations of the war from the “other side.” Close readings of literature will be enhanced with some theoretical writings on cinema frontier narratives, war and postmodernism, empire and imperialism, and postcolonial studies; we will attend to questions of gender, race, disability, nation, subalternity. Texts: Works by writers such as Gertrude Stein, John Hersey, Miné Okubo, Hisaye Yamamoto, Norman Mailer, Gwendolyn Brooks, Joseph Heller, Ralph Ellison, Tim O’Brien, Michael Herr, Siobhan Fallon, Ben Fountain, Phil Klay, Michael Pitre, Elliott Ackerman, Hassan Blassim, Sinan Antoon, and Viet Thanh Nguyen. Theoretical and critical writings by authors including Paul Virilio, Friedrich Kittler, Richard Slotkin Jean Baudrillard, Gayatri Spivak, and Edward Said. (This course may count towards the American Literature, Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Studies or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


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Bad Mothers <> LIT 492-0

We hear about bad mothers on the news, read about them online and in news print, see them in movies, and perhaps complain about them with our friends. But what, exactly, is a Bad Mother? How do we know? Where does she come from? In this course we will read novels and watch films that help to constitute, perpetuate, and challenge normative scripts of what constitutes good mothering. This seminar will likewise provoke students to critically analyze the varied factors that shape and define contemporary motherhood as an embodied ideology. Our seminar’s key themes include the institutionalization of motherhood, motherhood as subjectivity, agency and performance, technologies of reproduction, narratives of adoption, and the politicization of motherhood. Texts and authors will include Nella Larsen, Adrienne Rich, Philip Roth, Alice Walker, Buchi Emecheta, Edwidge Danticat, Margaret Atwood, Tillie Olsen, Mommie Dearest, Rosemary’s Baby, The Manchurian Candidate, Kramer v. Kramer, Juno, The Good Wife, and The Blind Side, along with a unit on global media and iconic mothers including Angelina Jolie, Lady Di, Mother Theresa, Mother Goose, Margaret Sanger, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, MADD, Whistler’s mother, and Kate Gosselin. (This course may count towards the Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, American Literature, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Studies, History, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


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Chicago Transformed <> LIT 492-0

The only constant in Chicago history, and literature, is change. In this course, we will read and discuss more than a century's worth of textual explorations of fundamental shifts in Chicago's built environment, racial and ethnic identities, and literaary expressions. Who lives where? Who has power and who takes it? Who expresses the most important aspects of these transformations, and how do writers across generations agree and disagree? Our readings will include canonical and more obscure writers, from Carl Sandburg, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Nelson Algren to Bill Granger, Stuart Dybek, and Dan Sinker. (This course may count towards the  American Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, History, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


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The US-Mexico Border in Literature and Film <> LIT 492-0

The US-Mexico border has been the site of intense cultural conflict since the mid-nineteenth century. It marks both the connection and the division between two nations, and many of our most fraught conversations concern whether the border should be a bridge or a wall. As an entry point into these conversations, this course will survey literature and film centering on the US-Mexico border. Students will become familiar with the history of the border, beginning with the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848 and extending through NAFTA and up to the current political climate. Together we will consider how the border has become such a potent site for contemporary mythmaking, a flashpoint for anxieties about race, labor, gender, and sexuality. Literary texts will include Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands / La Frontera (1987), Sandra Cisneros’s Woman Hollering Creek (1991), Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing (1994), Carlos Fuentes’s La frontera de cristal (1995), Juan Felipe Herrera’s 187 Reasons Mexicans Can’t Cross the Border: Undocuments (1995), and Carmen Boullosa’s Tejas (2014). (Texts originally written in Spanish will be taught in English translation.) Films will include The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982), Selena (1997), The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), and Sin Nombre (2009). (This course may count towards the American Literature, Comparative and World Literature, Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may count towards the American Studies, History or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or an elective in the creative writing program.)


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Feminism in Trumplandia <> LIT 492-0

When Donald J. Trump became the 45th president of the United States, many felt that a new era of precarity for women had begun. The defunding of Planned Parenthood, the Muslim ban, assault on pro-choice legislation, rescinding of protections for transgender students, the President’s own history of sexual assault—to name only a few—all seemed to present an unprecedented dystopia for women across the political spectrum. Indeed, this course begins by asking, how we can talk about feminism in a Trump era? Taking an historical approach to feminism this course asks how many of the issues facing American women today are familiar ones; and what might a Trump administration mean for feminism, both broadly speaking in its global iterations and on more local, micro levels of quotidian experience? How has the conception, performance, politics, embodiment and circulation of feminism been reconceived? As a research course, this class will require students to conduct original research, taking from feminism’s archive over the last thirty years an animating idea, concept, historical moment, material object, or study around which each student will frame a question in relation to Trump feminism. From this question they will devise an original argument, compose a bibliography of primary and secondary sources, outline, and then write a 10-15 page paper. Readings/texts will include but not be limited to those by Betty Friedan, Shulamith Firestone, Robin Morgan, Adrienne Rich, Angela Davis, Andrea Dworkin, Susan Faludi, Patricia Williams, Hortense Spillers, Margaret Atwood, Rebecca Traister, Barbara Ehrenreich, Beyonce, Jessa Crispin, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, Victoria Lomasko, and Lena Dunham. (This course may count towards the American Literature, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may count towards the American Studies, History or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or an elective in the creative writing program.)


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Representing Interiority <> MCW 490-0 In our intensely visual culture, one of the last great advantages written narratives hold over television and film is their ability to represent their characters' inner lives. This course will focus on the representation of consciousness, with an emphasis on texts that transform this task into an organizational principle of their narratives. In other words, consciousness isn't just the 'what' of these texts, but the 'how' as well. We will examine a wide range of works, including writings by Henry James, Viriginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Franz Kafka and Yaakov Shabtai. Though fiction will be our central concern, we will also investigate non-fiction in order to see how its practitioners depict a subject's interiority when they cannot just magically enter their characters. This course will balance readings with writing exercises and the occasional workshop.
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Writing Reviews <> MCW 490-0

This graduate course on the art of writing reviews combines elements of a seminar and a workshop. Team-taught by Chicago's best reviewers of books,theater and music, the class will cover the basics of reviewing. The course examines the craft of reviewing and guides students in the practice. Students will discuss what reviews should accomplish,and through careful reading of exemplary ones, will discover what makes a stellar review. Faculty will also talk about publishing reviews and the ethics of reviewing.


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Writing Humor <> MCW 490-0 This course will take a serious look at how humor works on the page. To develop their own comic styles, students will be asked to closely examine comedic works of various genres. Readings will include poetry by Billy Collins, David Kirby and others; fiction by writers such as Donald Barthelme and Lorrie Moore; essays by the likes of Barbara Ehrenreich and H.L. Mencken; short humor sketches from writers for The New Yorker and McSweeney's; satire from contributors to the Onion; and the screenplay "His Girl Friday" by Charles Lederer. By studying the work of these comic masters, students will examine what comedic dynamics and what elements of humor(irony, pun, parody, satire, hyperbole, bombast,malapropism, etc.) are at play. The goal is to give students new tools to make use of humor in their own writing. Students are required to write one of the following: a)a work of fiction or nonfiction of five to fifteen pages, b) two to four poems, or c) a play or screenplay of 10 to 25 pages. This work will be discussed by the class. Students are also required to give both written and verbal evaluations of work submitted by classmates and to submit at least five "craft commentaries" about assigned readings. At the end of the quarter, a portfolio of all work is submitted. Readings: course pack, available from Quartet Copies in Evanston.
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Travel Literature <> MCW 490-0

In this survey course of travel literature, we take Mark Twain's observation on travel (how one travels determines what one sees) one step further and explore not the means but the motives. Looking primarily at modern works of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, we examine the conscious and in some cases unconscious motives for travel and how they influence the way a writer sees and depicts a land and the people that inhabit it. We will not only discuss the usual psychological, spiritual and political motives, but also look at the scientific, journalistic, sexual, recreational and therapeutic reasons behind journeys and travel as well. We will also pay particular attention to how gender, race, culture and class provide different perspectives and critiques on how cultures have been historically depicted as well as on the tradition of travel and travel writing itself. Here is a partial list of writers we will read: Walt Whitman, Charles Darwin, Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Mann, Earnest Hemingway, Berl Markham, Jack Kerouac, Joan Didion, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Graham Greene, D.W. Sebald, Octivo Paz, Claude Levi-Strauss, Jan Morris, Amitav Ghosh, Peter Matthiesen, Gretel Ehrlich, V.S.Naipaul, Joseph Brodsky, Jonathan Raban, Elizabeth Bishop, and James Baldwin.


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Brief Encounters <> MCW 490-0

The micro-story, the prose poem, the mini-essay: it is in these elemental forms that the worlds of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction meet, overlap, and sometimes merge. Using the work of such diverse writers as Heinrich Böll, Jorge Luis Borges, Zbgniew Herbert, Jamaica Kincaid, William Kittredge, Denise Levertov and W.S. Merwin, this class will examine what one anthologist has described as "life histories reduced to paragraphs, essays the size of postcards, novels in nutshells, maps on postage stamps, mind-bending laundry lists, theologies scribbled on napkins." We will study how these narratives-in-miniature are structured and discuss what they might teach us about longer forms. The goal is for students to come away with a new sense of how to bring economy and compression to their work, no matter the genre or length. Students will produce at least three works of flash fiction, prose poetry or brief creative nonfiction, each 2,000 words or less, in additon to written critiques of student work.


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Shosetsu <> MCW 490-0

Yasunari Kawabata described The Master of Go as "a faithful chronicle-novel." His translator, Edward Seidensticker, writes in his introduction, "The word used, of course, is not novel' but shosetsu, a rather more flexible and generous and catholic term than novel.' Frequently what would seem to the Western reader a piece of autobiography or a set of memoirs, somewhat embroidered and colored but essentially nonfiction all the same, is placed by the Japanese reader in the realm of the shosetsu." This course will explore the tradition of the shosetsu and attempt to identify some of its counterparts in the West and in the past. Rather than trot out all the old arguments about James Frey's Million Little Pieces, we will look for new ways to understand the morality of "embroidering" (and we will look, with great rigor)-in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. This will give us an opportunity to look at the nonfiction novel, the use of exaggeration and metaphors and editing in nonfiction and history, and the tradition of the "boast poem" in Middle Eastern and Old English poetry, as well as a look at its contemporary counterpart, what I would call "hudibrastic hip-hop". Students will explore these aspects, temptations, and strengths in their own writing, and the course welcomes work from all three genres: students will submit three creative writing projects in nonfiction, fiction, or poetry as part of the coursework. Readings include Selected Poetry and Prose, Fernando Pessoa; Satan Says, Sharon Olds; The Master of Go, Yasunari Kawabata; Positively Fifth Street, James McManus; The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative, Vivian Gornick; and Grand Things to Write a Poem on: A Verse Autobiography, Shmuel ha Nagid.


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War, Violence, Suffer <> MCW 490-0

This course will address the ways in which war, violence and suffering are represented in writing and the ethical and aesthetical questions related to that. We will read Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, Isaac Babel's Red Cavalry, Tim O'Brian's The Things They Carried, Primo Levi's Survival in Aushwitz, Edward P. Jones's The Known World, and others. Students should be aware that some the readings might be hard to stomach. The writing assignaments will include an analytical paper and an imitation narrative.


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The Video Essay <> MCW 490-0

This course focuses on applying literary techniques to the composition of short multimedia essays. It is appropriate for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry students, and in many ways is ideal for poets, as the video essay form embraces compression in language and the imagistic density of poetry. Like its print counterpart, the video essay is an attempt to see what one thinks about something. The video essay may engage with fact, but tends to be less self-assured than documentary. Rather, the video essay, writes Phillip Lopate, wears confusion proudly as it gropes toward truth. Agnes Varda, the poetic French filmmaker who coined the term cinécriture, or film-writing, best described the promise of the form when noting that, for her, writing meant more than simply wording a script. Choosing images, designing sound - these, too, were part of that process. This course explores the many ways in which writing in the video essay form-writing for viewers and listeners rather than readers-differs from print. We seek to understand how sound and image make a direct appeal to the senses, as well as learn how the writer's voice collaborates with audio and visual elements. Readings and screenings include George Orwell, Joan Didion, Don Delillo, Eric Schlosser, Ross McElwee, Agnes Varda, Chris Marker.


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Writing About Work <> MCW 490-0

In this course we will read fiction, nonfiction, and poetry about working life, not the exotic but the everyday. How do we set our narratives, nonfiction stories, or poems among the routines, places, relationships, dilemmas, and atmospheres, of life at work, and lives of people out of work?--in businesses, shops, restaurants, laboratories, firehouses, supermarkets, hospitals, at home, at construction sites, schools, campaign offices, churches, etc. Students will write a short essay about the portrayal of work in one or two of the readings, and will draft new fiction, nonfiction or poetry in which a place of work is the essential setting. Readings will include authors James Agee, Barbara Ehrenreich, Franz Kafka, Annie Proulx, Muriel Rukeyser, Gary Snyder, Richard Wright. and others.


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Reading & Writing Poetry <> MCW 490-0

This course is for both prose writers and poets. We'll read a range of poems and discuss the poetics of a number of modern and contemporary poets in order to map a variety of ways in which poems make meaning and create effects of intensification of feeling, ideas and even narration. We will discuss how to read as a poet reads and how to write in order to create particular effects of emphasis and vividness, and in several writing assignments we will use some of the modes, techniques, structures and voicings of the poems on the reading list. We will work out way inside the poetics so as to notice the the artistic decisions the writer/poet has made, and the effects of those choices on style and also on the scale and ambition of the work. In class, annotations and final projects, we're not going to interpret poems; instead, we'll study how they lead our responses, how they move, how they organize their language, how they present--how they articulate--perception, feeling and thought. The themes belong to the writers and the writers' times and places; the techniques belong to poetry. I have prepared a small anthology of poems specifically for this course, and everyone will do a report to the group on a favorite poet, highlighting technique and effect, and thus adding additional techniques and artistic stances to the range of poetics in the anthology.


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Revision: Prose Forms <> MCW 490-0

This prose reading-and-writing class introduces students to numerous ways of thinking about revising. The course will focus less on examining works on the micro level than on the macro level (considering topics such as plot, point of view, tone, character development, and focus). In addition to revision-oriented exercises, students will submit one piece of fiction or creative nonfiction for workshop, and then revise the entire manuscript, a portion of it, or aspect of it. Readings will include (but will not be limited to): essays on the subject of revisions, as well as multiple published versions of the same works of fiction and nonfiction.

 

Poets may take this class to satisfy the required Prose for Poets course.


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Research in Creative Writing <> MCW 490-0

Research can enhance a written work in so many ways--by providing authenticity, context, raw material, setting, juxtaposition, heft, lightness, and much more. In this class we will study successful uses of research in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and performance. Students will work consistently on individual projects. They will research by digging through government and other official documents; examining old ledgers, diaries, photos, material culture, archives, private collections, videos, transcripts; sorting through online resources; observing and interviewing. Students will be encouraged, but not required, to use local sources. Students with particular projects in mind are invited to contact the instructor as soon as possible so that their interests can be included in the course.


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Research in Creative Writing <> MCW 490-0

Research can enhance a written work in so many ways--by providing authenticity, context, raw material, humor, juxtaposition, heft, lightness, and much more. In this class we will study successful uses of research in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and performance. Students will work consistently on individual projects. They will research by digging through government and other official documents; examining old diaries, photos, material culture, archives, private collections, videos, transcripts; sorting through online resources; observing and interviewing. They will learn how to reconstruct scenes and how to use imagination without bamboozling the reader. Students will be encouraged, but not required, to use local sources. Students with particular projects in mind are invited to contact the instructor as soon as possible so that their interests can be included in the course.


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Reading and Writing Travel <> MCW 490-0

From Herodotus to Basho, to contemporary experimentalists such as Chatwin and Kapuscinski, travel writers have had a profound influence on the genres of journalism, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and film as well as the social and physical sciences. Travel has always been about two things: how we describe our movement through a given culture or landscape and how that experience challenges our perception of the world and of our place within it. Too often, however, writers use travel as merely a backdrop for memoirs of personal discovery, nature worship, or escapist adventure. This course looks at key writers of travel who have shaped literary and intellectual history by how they have written about cultures, cities, nature, imperialism, and the subject of travel itself. These readings will serve as a foundation for discussion and thinking about the challenges and responsibilities in writing about other cultures, the environment, and the psychological and economic effects of travel itself on parts of the world. Writers of travel, be they poets, journalists, anthropologists, or migrants, have contributed to not only the form and content of what defines travel but have challenged other contemporary writers of travel to consider appropriate and effective ways to record and narrate their experiences. Students will write a short travel essay that revolves around some local experience, as well as a longer work in a genre of their choice—essay, memoir section, literary nonfiction, fiction, poetry, or experimental hybrids of text and image/video. Students will also be responsible for writing an annotation and lead a discussion about a particular writer of their choice who has influenced them in their writing about travel. Some of the writers to be discussed: Lucian, Seneca, Goethe, Lady Montagu, Wordsworth, Darwin, Thoreau, Twain, Whitman, Proust, Conrad, Woolf, Stark, Orwell, Waugh, Kerouac, Morris, Levi-Strauss, Naipaul, Bishop, Baldwin, Chatwin, Matthiessen, Dillard, Iyer, Kincaid, Cole, Solnit.


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YA & Middle Grade Fic/Nonfic <> MCW 490-0

This writing class explores a variety of literature for middle grade (age 8 to 11) and young adult (age 12 through high school) readers. Students develop initial chapters for novel-length manuscripts in the reading level and genre of their choice: nonfiction, contemporary realism, fantasy, and historical fiction. Character development, point of view, conflict and scene, setting, plotting and pacing, research, and revision are examined in weekly writing assignments designed to push manuscripts toward completion. (Students may petition to have this course count as a workshop, but must submit a petition no later than June 9.)


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Writing from Works in Transl. <> MCW 490-0

One needn’t speak a second language in order to grapple with the implications of translation on a work and on a reader; but the sensitivities heightened by the awareness of a work's foreignness will strengthen one’s relationship not only to reading, but to writing as well, if only by displacing oneself from one’s original expectations—whatever one’s literary predilection. In this course, we’ll read a brief selection of texts that will take us into the histories of Guadeloupe’s 1802 slave revolt, post-independence Algeria, Indochina under French rule, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and pre-dictatorship Argentina. In response to these works, students will draft two new pieces of writing (fiction or nonfiction). In our work together, we will undertake to apprehend how literary translation might be a form in its own right, predicated on the crossing of borders, and thus able to teach us new approaches to our own fiction and creative nonfiction. Starting from the conviction that translation is not a transparent process but one that continues to be active in translated works, this course will provide an opportunity for students to read a number of translated works as translations—in other words, to read while paying attention to how the movement from one language to another inflects the works in their new, adoptive, tongue: English. With emphasis on fiction and the essay, we will read works by Nathalie Sarraute (The Use of Speech), André Schwartz-Bart (A Woman Named Solitude), Nina Bouraoui (Tomboy), Marguerite Duras (Practicalities), Rithy Panh (The Elimination), and Julio Cortázar (Blow-Up).


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Basics of Screenwriting <> MCW 490-0

Great storytelling technique is essential for any writer, and short film distills visual and narrative storytelling craft down to its essential elements. Students generate a film idea, choose a theme, create an outline, develop a main character, learn how to write meaningful dialogue and create compelling scenes through in-class exercises, lectures, analyzing short films and receiving peer and instructor feedback on student work. Students will complete a 10-15-page short film script by the end of the course. No prior experience in screenwriting necessary.


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Making Narrative Time <> MCW 490-0

In this course, we’ll examine the myriad structures and techniques used by fiction writers to manipulate narrative time. We’ll ask questions that may only lead to more questions: Is narrative a prisoner of time like us? Are there successful ways to tell a story outside of time? Or is time itself the necessary subject of all stories? We’ll first look at fundamental questions about agreed upon notions of time in stories (what Joan Silber calls “classic time”) in works like The Great Gatsby, and then delve into manipulations of classic time, such as “long time,” in Chekhov’s “The Darling,” Peter Taylor’s “A Wife Of Nashville” and Denis Johnson’s novella “Train Dreams”; “switchback time” in Alice Munro’s Selected Stories; “junkie time” in Jesus’s Son; “trauma time” in O’Brien’s In The Lake Of The Woods, and “fabulous time” in Marquez’s One-Hundred Years Of Solitude. All the while, we’ll be working in the spirit of inquiry and practical thievery: Do writers’ notions of time simultaneously build and subvert readers’ expectations of experience? Of character? Of form? Finally, how might we steal from these writers' methods and effects, yet make them their own? In addition to writing weekly analyses (précis) related to these questions, you'll be responsible for a full-length final analysis paper on one of the major works and for leading at least two discussion on a formal choice one our writers has made.


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The Short Novel <> MCW 490-0

The compactness of the novella or short novel is what gives it power. Unlike the full-length novel, with its comprehensive descriptiveness or plotting or sustained voicing or panoramic scope, and its cumulative effect, the short novel can focus actions, characters, settings, and voice and even a lengthy chronology in such a way that the reader is engaged with the intensity of the short narrative or meditative arc. Reading in a writerly way--analyzing structure, movement, language, tone, and other elements of the techniques of fiction--we’ll study a number of great novellas and short novels. Our texts may include such writers as Anton Chekhov, Marguerite Duras, William Goyen, Yasunari Kawabata, Katherine Mansfield, Paule Marshall, Cormac McCarthy, Ian McEwan, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje, Andrei Platonov, Katherine Ann Porter, Bruno Schulz, Jane Smiley, Eudora Welty. In addition to discussing our readings and making brief oral presentations, each student will write a summary of technical aspects of one of our texts. Each of us will also, by the end of the quarter, sketch the plan of a short novel, including voice, characters, actions, and setting. Together we will compile a longer reading list of short novels.


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Cross-Genre Texts <> MCW 490-0

In this class, we will explore the exciting world of cross-genre texts, mapping the overlapping spaces between creative non-fiction, poetry and fiction, and examining the ways that shuffling, juxtaposition, truncation and lyricism can create work that is formally surprising and deeply resonant. We will read and discuss a new book each week and will write and workshop two finished pieces of cross-genre writing. We will examine the intersections between poetry and creative non-fiction, autobiographical writing and found text in Anne Carson’s The Glass Essay, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen. Then we will delve into the lush world of lyrical fiction in Cane by Jean Toomer, The Pink Institution by Selah Saterstrom, Wedlocked by Jay Ponteri and Madeleine is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum. Students should expect to complete two short papers and write and workshop two original works of cross-genre writing.


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Literary Adaptation <> MCW 490-0

The adaptation of literature to the screen is one of the most popular forms of storytelling in cinema, and yet there are no standard practices or hard-and-fast rules about how an adaptation should be done. There exist a great range of methods from 'free' adaptations to 'faithful' ones and much debate about what makes such an adaptation successful. In this course we engage critically and creatively in the process of literary adaptations, studying successful films and their source texts, critical literature on methodology and interviews with writers who have done adaptations to survey the range of approaches. In this close study of literary adaptation, students learn to distinguish between literary and visual narrative structure; analyze a text for plot, character development and emotional arc; learn how to translate prose into an acted scene; learn the three-act structure of screenwriting; become more astute readers of texts and watchers of film; hone creative writing skills and give constructive peer feedback. No matter one's primary genre as a writer, learning screenwriting through the lens of literary adaptation will expand the writer's toolbox and provide new insight on the creative process.


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Between the Sheets: Writing Sex <> MCW 490-0

Sex can be awkward at times but it turns out it is even harder to write about. How do we connect with our characters’ and our readers' inner desires and not just write something eligible for the Bad Sex in Fiction award? Using exercises, readings, discussions and critiques, we will learn some useful techniques for getting sex out of our heads and onto the page.


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Writing for Television <> MCW 490-DL

This class is designed for students who have an interest in the art and craft of writing for television. With new streaming platforms and options for watching, there are more original scripted series on US television and online than ever before. Writing for television requires a firm grasp on character and dialogue, and a keen understanding of plot and story structure. There is perhaps no better way to gain these tools than by reading existing scripts and by working on scripts of our own. We will discuss story arc and the character conflicts that drive a series forward, as well as the differences between comedy and drama scripts and the three and five act story structure. We will also address the collaborative nature of television writing. In addition, we will be focusing our energies on writing original Pilot Scripts, not a spec script. A spec script is an unsolicited, original episode of an established TV show. In the past, spec scripts were often read by showrunners and producers when they were staffing their writer’s rooms. Spec scripts showed how well a particular writer could adapt to the voice and tone of an on-air series. In recent years, those decision makers who hire writers are more interested in original material and a writer’s unique outlook and voice. Pilot scripts are the best way to showcase these talents.


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Seminar on Journal Publishing <> MCW 575-0

Writing students are well-versed in literary tradition, but often have limited knowledge of the industry in which they hope to participate. And writers in the MA/MFA program have a dual opportunity to participate in literary journals, as both writers submitting work to journals, and as staff of TriQuarterly. This course, then, will have two elements. We'll discuss the history of literary journal publishing in the U.S., with a particular focus on the role of these magazines in shaping and reflecting literary culture. At all points students will consider their roles as writers and readers. We’ll consider topics in the history and current state of journal publishing, including the establishment of magazines, the evolution of print and digital models, the role of universities, the effects of the Internet and digital publishing on conventional structures, the introduction and impact of electronic reading devices and e-books, cultivation and maintenance of readership, and related matters. Students will also contribute to producing the Winter 2016 issue of TriQuarterly. Activities will include review of submissions and related materials; discussion of editorial principles and guidelines; discussion of interviews, essays, and other contributions; and discussion of marketing techniques.The course will include lectures, discussions, and at least one guest speaker. By the end of the quarter, students will have a firm grasp of the literary journal industry and a well-developed sense of the writer’s position within it.

Assignments: Students will present throughout the quarter on other online literary journals; suggest writers to solicit; read submissions throughout the quarter; and submit a final interview or other text. Each student must also post at least one comment to the class discussion board no later than Monday of each week.


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The Publishing Industry <> MCW 575-0

Writing students are often well read, with a solid understanding of literary tradition, but often have limited knowledge of the industry in which they hope to participate. This course will explore both book and literary journal publishing, with an especial focus on the last few decades in the U.S. and the UK. The industry has weathered widespread changes—not necessarily to the benefit of writers themselves—with, for example, the consolidation of many imprints under one large house or media conglomerate, the advent of the e-book, and the omnipresence of social media. We’ll review the evolution of large and small presses, the effects of Amazon, the Internet and digital publishing on conventional structures, the roles of review publications and reviewers, among other related topics. We’ll also talk with industry representatives during the quarter, and students will be required to make a presentation to the class on a publishing house from a list provided by the instructor. By the end of the quarter, students will have a firm grasp of book and journal publishing and a well-developed sense of the writer's position within it.


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Beyond The Hunger Games <> MCW_SEMINAR 490-0

This elective provides students with the opportunity to investigate award-winning, innovative fiction for young adults—one of the fastest-growing areas of publishing today. The best of contemporary realistic fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction are used to explore craft issues, including point of view, plotting and pacing, character development, setting, dialog, and action.


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Plot and Structure for Novelists <> MCW_SEMINAR 490-0

The writer Alexander Chee once told me that writing a novel is like going into the woods with a saw and hammer to build a house. For blueprints, you have your memories of all the novels you’ve read. In this course we’ll read as writers, focusing our attention on plot and structure. We’ll begin by asking such questions as - how does an opening chapter work so that we feel compelled (required!) to read on? And how does that same chapter proceed through a thicket of events to a satisfying final chapter? How does the opening line of a story ask a question that won’t let us go until the last line? We’ll read excerpts from Madison Smartt Bell’s Narrative Design, Patricia Highsmith’s Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction, and Robert McKee’s Story. We’ll look at work by a variety of authors, including Toni Morrison, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jesym Ward, Rachel Cusk, Vu Tran, and others. In addition to the critical reading and writing intended to map out the work under consideration, you will also have an opportunity to work in this class on your own novels.


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The Publishing Industry MCW_SEMINAR 575-0

Writing students are often well read, with a solid understanding of literary tradition, but often have limited knowledge of the industry in which they hope to participate. This course will explore both book and literary journal publishing, with an especial focus on the last few decades in the U.S. and the UK. The industry has weathered widespread changes—not necessarily to the benefit of writers themselves—with, for example, the consolidation of many imprints under one large house or media conglomerate, the advent of the e-book, and the omnipresence of social media. We’ll review the evolution of large and small presses, the effects of Amazon, the Internet and digital publishing on conventional structures, the roles of review publications and reviewers, among other related topics. We’ll also talk with industry representatives during the quarter, and students will be required to make a presentation to the class on a publishing house from a list provided by the instructor. By the end of the quarter, students will have a firm grasp of book and journal publishing and a well-developed sense of the writer's position within it.


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