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Fall 2020 Topics

Scroll down for “Read like a writer” and Intro course topics. If you’ve taken CWL 202, you can enroll in any of these 3-credit, 300-level poetry, fiction, scriptwriting and creative non-fiction workshops:




CWL 300.S01 #93482          HFA+, WRTD 
Portrait Mode: Capturing the Characters in your Life, with Grace Dilger
Wed 4:25-7:15PM ; Online-Synchronous
I’m afraid to write about my _____.  But I can’t write about them ! What if they read it? 
Writing nonfiction presents its own special set of challenges as the characters we render on the page already have their own personalities, eccentricities and backstories, they’re real , afterall, and oftentimes they’re our loved ones. We shouldn’t avoid the stories we want to tell because we fear we won’t do justice to our family, our neighbors, or friends. In this class we’ll learn strategies to honor the actuality of the populace in our nonfiction essays and we’ll let several consummate essay collections and memoirs be our touchstones in that effort. 


CWL 300.S02 #93483   HFA+, WRTD
The Ways of the Essay, with Molly Gaudry
M/W 2:40-4PM; In Person/Online-Hybrid

This course will be a Whitman’s Sampler of approaches to writing the contemporary essay. We will read and discuss personal essays—about the body, illness, trauma, history, travel, identity—as well as essays that make use of innovative forms, such as lyric essays, list essays, braided essays, collage essays, collaborative essays, graphic essays, and essays in disguise (hermit crab essays). Expect to read and discuss two essays a week and, by the end of the term, to write two of your own: one traditional, one experimental. Authors include: Durga Chew-Bose, Jabari Asim, Ross Gay, Han Kang, Phoebe Robinson, Thomas Glave, Carole Maso, Esmé Weijun Wang, Gwendolyn Wallace, Robert Lopez, Torrey Peters, Ben Fountain, Jericho Parms, Kai Minosh Pyle, Maia Kobabe, Art Spiegelman, Shailja Patel, Eula Biss, Claudia Rankine, Anne Carson, Diane Glancy, Alexander Chee, and more.



CWL 305.S01 #93485          HFA+, WRTD
Short Story, with Amy Hempel
Tues 4:45-7:35PM; Online Synchronous
We will aim to amplify the idea of what a story can be, employing a range of narrative strategies, and reading stories and poems from contemporary writers who sound like no one else. Emphasis on use of place, work, logic, and, always, language.  Short assignments in the beginning will spotlight ways to listen FOR stories, as Eudora Welty put it. We will talk about writing at the sentence level, and finding personal ways into the largest concerns. Students will write two stories and submit a revision of one of them.

CWL 305.S02 #93486           HFA+, WRTD
Coming of Age in Fiction, with Annie Cooperstone
T/TH 11:30-12:50PM; Online/Sychronous
This workshop will redefine the coming-of-age story and use it as a thematic framework to study fiction. We will focus on coming of age as it relates to loss of innocence, a shift in personal narrative,  and irreconcilable knowledge in the following contemporary works of fiction: The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank, Trust Exercise by Susan Choi, and “How I Learned To Drive” by Paula Vogel. 

Students will produce original works of fiction that address in some way a coming of age. As we will learn, it is a broad and fruitful topic that will encourage students to explore the many ways in which people (adults included) grow up. Students will each get a chance to workshop two short stories and then choose one to revise. Workshop expectations will be presented at the beginning of the course and should be adhered to in order to create a supportive and safe environment.


CWL 305.S03 # 93487           HFA+, WRTD
Delirious New York: Writing and Workshopping the City, with Alex Sniatkowski
M/W 10:30-11:50AM; In Person/Online-Hybrid
As writers, we are drawn to cities. They are spaces where reality feels heightened, spaces that feel rigidly controlled, but simultaneously liberating. They are composed of kinetic networks of social relations and psychological experience. In this class we will explore this phenomenon through New York City and how it is translated into literature. We will observe the different lens through which authors have approached the city, as well as how the city’s history and constant regeneration has changed and recreated its meaning for artists throughout different eras. As the city changes, so do the aesthetics, and we will take a special interest in how our work transforms in a similar way. This class will take the tension created by Manhattan’s street grid– a rigid layout, which necessitates free play and chance– and approach our work with it. We will craft stories that adhere to and develop our narrative fundamentals, but that also experiment and innovate on these tools. We will experience New York City in its textual and corporeal being and use our pens as conduits of its energy to write stories born from the possibilities of the city.

CWL 305.S04 #93488        HFA+, WRTD
The Short Story, with Cal Urycki
Mon 4:25-7:15PM;  In Person/Online-Hybrid
Workshop course focusing on short stories. You will have the freedom to write whatever captures your imagination, provided it falls within the loose definition we will establish of a short story. Each class meeting will be a workshop of student work accompanied by a selected outside story for discussion. Outside readings will draw from masters of the form both old and new: Vladimir Nabokov, Flannery O’Connor, George Saunders, Junot Diaz, and more.

CWL 305.S05 #93489       HFA+, WRTD
Short Fiction as Craft: Building your Craftsmen’s Toolbox, with McKenzie Watterson
Thurs 4:45-7:35PM; Online Synchronous
We’re going to practice the craft of short fiction, wielding skills like a carpenter does tools. Though we’ll read and learn from published stories, your own work will be the bulk of our text; we’ll learn from one another’s stories and from the constructive feedback we offer one another. And your workshop submissions will be drafts! In their imperfection, we’ll analyze your strengths and find opportunities for your story to grow., You’ll revise with techniques that work for your story. With revision, you’ll apply feedback and skills to elevate your work. After all, writing is not a magical art conducted by geniuses and muses, but a   craft  practiced by everyday people who have the right tools and the perseverance to keep using them.

**Note: All genres of short fiction are welcome. Literary fiction, speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian), lyrical fiction, fragments. They will all be engaged with the same rigor and held to common craft standards. 


CWL 305.S06 #93517       HFA+, WRTD 
Technically Speaking: Experimental Form in the Novel, with Max Parker
M/F 1-2:20PM; In Person/Online-Hybrid
Experimental writing course in which students will read, craft and discuss experimental techniques in literature, such as: fragments, genre-bending, alternate reality, imitative form, and restriction.  Students will begin and plot a novel-length project of their own design.




CWL 310.S01 #93490      HFA+, WRTD
Poetry as Style, with Star Black
TH 4:45-7:35PM; Online Synchronous
This course introduces a variety of inspirations for developing your own style of creative writing in whichever form you choose: poetry, flash fiction,  short, short stories, screenplays and plays. With short, in-class writing assignments that use the work of contemporary and historical writers as touchstones to your own imagination as a writer, the course serves to stimulate your creative ideas and enhance the specific skills that are possible to you.  The instructor will hand out short, xeroxed texts meant to stimulate your own original work. Among the writers to be considered and studied are Charles Simic, Mark Strand, Russell Edson, Ogden Nash, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Louise Glick, Blaise Cendrars, W.S. Merwin, Edgar Allen Poe, Edna St.Vincent Millay, Allen Ginsberg, Nathaniel Mackey and others. We will also explore visual writing, which combines texts with penmanship and images.


CWL 310.S02 #93491        HFA+, WRTD
15 Ways Of Being In A Poetry Workshop, with Miranda Beeson
T/TH 1:15-2:35PM; Online Synchronous
15 weeks. 15 fantastical poetic forms in depth. 15 approaches to the page. 15 ways of seeing. 15 ways of reading. 15 ways of listening. 15 ways of thinking. 15 ways of illuminating the world through words. We will read, write & workshop—in more than 15 ways!


CWL 310.S03 #93497        HFA+, WRTD
Poetry, with Cornelius Eady
T/TH 11:30AM-12:50PM; Online Synchronous


CWL 310.S04 #93516          HFA+, WRTD
Living Poetry, with Cornelius Eady
M 4:25-7:15PM; Online Synchronous
Poetry is not a museum piece; it is a living, breathing and changeable art form, written by living, breathing and changeable human beings, and in my forms of poetry class, the students will be able to not only walk their way through the various ways we make a poem, they will also be able to have first-hand knowledge with working poets to see the ways those rules are used (and broken) You will be doing three main things here: 1) writing and revising your own work (including exercises), 2) Doing close reading of the poems assigned. 3) Interviewing visiting poets about craft. In this course, you will not only get a general running sense of the craft of poetry, but learn how, though live interviews, (via SKYPE and in person) it is put to use by working, contemporary poets. The final in this workshop will be a chapbook of 10-12 of your best poems written and revised over the semester, with a short introduction written in the third person by the author, due the last day of class. It is basically a poetry course with a reading series attached. Come with a sense of play and adventure.




In Fall 2020 and going forward, Creative Writing students interested in scriptwriting should enroll in FLM 215 . To get permission to enroll and to count these FLM writing workshops toward the creative writing major or minor, contact Liz McRae ( ).


FLM 215.01   HFA+
The Art of the Screenplay, with Will Chandler   
W 4:25-7:15PM; In Person/Online-Hybrid
All great screenplays share a compelling, well-told story. In this course, students will analyze films and read contemporary screenplays, deconstructing them in to learn why they work so well. Students will leave understanding the construction of story, the value of juxtaposing scenes, the power of the visual image, the importance of underlying theme, the need for conflict and the development of compelling, layered characters and their dialogue. Students will be guided through the process of developing their own stories and will leave with a screenplay outline, a three-act story arc and a completed first act of their own script.


FLM 215.02      HFA+
TV Writing,                                          
TH 4:45-7:35PM; In Person/Online-Hybrid

FLM 215.03  HFA+
Screenwriting,Carina Kohn 
Fri 10:30AM-1:20PM; In Person/Online-Hybrid

Study and practice of scriptwriting for filmmakers through readings, screenings, discussions and regular submission of original work. Areas of study include Writing the Short, Writing the Feature-length Screenplay, Writing for Television.  May repeat course as topic changes.




CWL 320.S01 #93494          EXP+, WRTD
Writing Culture: Language and Identity, with Chelsy Diaz Amaya
TTH 9:45-11:05AMOnline Synchronous
You might go to a skate park, a coffee shop, a thrift store, a doctor’s office. Maybe you’ll go to Church. You will observe and interact with multiple cultures and subcultures, especially ones you might not feel like you belong to, as you tackle writing about the ones with which you do identify. And more importantly? It's up to you to establish how you identify. This course will constantly prompt you to assess your own cultural realm to produce powerful narrative journeys.



CWL 325.S01 #94526         STAS, WRTD
Darwin and the Imagination of Reality, with Megan McAndrew
TTH 2-4:20PM; In Person/Online-Hybrid
Whatever we see could be other than it is.  Whatever we can describe at all could be other than it is.  There is no a priori order of things. Ludwig Wittgenstein
 Darwin’s On the Origin of the species gave us the most powerful myth of origins since the Old Testament.  By challenging all previous assumptions of reality, it upended the notion of observation that underlies not only scientific enquiry, but also artistic creation.  In this workshop, we will read Darwin for his imaginative prowess, and his use of metaphor and analogy to explain the science that gave birth to modernist consciousness.  We will then apply the principles of scientific enquiry to our own writing, that is to say, we will write like scientists, by observing the world with precision and imagination, and imposing meaning on chaos.



These are open to all comers. Expect creative writing assignments in response to lots of reading.

CWL 190 Intro to Contemporary Lit #93467          HUM
B A D  B E H A V I O R!  with Miranda Beeson
T/TH 10:00-11:20AM; Online Synchronous
Prerequisite : WRT 102 
Have you found yourself saying  Why is that OK?   How did he / she / they get away with that? Did he / she / they really just say that to my face? To the world? Isn't a fact a fact? A lie a lie? We will examine present day homo sapiens’s  b a d b e h a v i o r through the lens of contemporary literature. A multi-genre (short stories, song lyrics, essays, manifestos, fables, science writing, social media, case studies, advice columns, legal briefs, flash fiction, film scripts, poetry, plays, podcasts & more) investigation into modern society tipping on the edge of acceptability into the trash bin of deception, self-­delusion & disinformation.

CWL 330  European Lit #93495           GLO, HFA+
Shakespeare, with Paul Harding
T/TH 1:15-2:35PM; Online Synchronous
We will give close readings to 5 of William Shakespeare’s later plays. The plays will be considered in their historical and religious contexts, their place in the emergence of modern literary English, but most of all for their sheer artistry. We will read as writers studying a master. (Shakespeare is, after all, perhaps the greatest of writers, even though everyone says he is.) We will read King Lear, Macbeth, Hamlet, Antony & Cleopatra, and The Winter’s Tale .  We will also look at excerpts from other period works such as William Tyndale’s English translations of the Bible and John Foxe’s Acts & Monuments .

CWL 335 American Lit #93496          USA, HFA+
Children's Lit Survey with Emma Walton Hamilton
 Asynchronous Online
This course is a survey of the four principle forms that comprise children’s literature: picture book, chapter book, middle grade and young adult. The semester will be divided into thirds – with the first third devoted to the study of the picture book, the second to chapter books and middle grade novels, and the final third focused on young adult fiction. Each Learning Module of the course  includes presentations and/or reading material on specific aspects of each form, writing assignments, and discussion and workshopping of written material via the Discussion Board.



CWL 202.S01 M/W 8:30-9:50AM; In Person/Online-Hybrid

CWL 202.S03 M/W/F 10:30-11:25AM;  In Person/Online-Hybrid

CWL 202.S04 M/W/F 11:45AM-12:40PM;  In Person/Online-Hybrid

CWL 202.S05 M/F 1:00-2:20PM; Online Synchronous

CWL 202.S06 M/F 1:00-2:20PM;  Online Synchronous

CWL 202.S07 M/W 2:40-4PM;  Online Synchronous

CWL 202.S08 T/Th 8-9:20AM;  In Person/Online-Hybrid

CWL 202.S10 T/Th 9:45-11:05AM;  Online Synchronous

CWL 202.S11 T/Th 9:45-11:05AM; In Person/Online-Hybrid

CWL 202 .S12 T/Th 1:15-2:35PM; Online Synchronous

CWL 202 .S13 T/Th 3-4:20PM;  In Person/Online-Hybrid

CWL 202 .S14 T/Th 4:45-6:05PM;  In Person/Online-Hybrid

CWL 202 .S15 T/Th 11:30AM-12:50PM; Online Synchronous

CWL 202 .S16 T/Th 3-4:20PM;  In Person/Online-Hybrid

CWL 202 .S17 M/W 2:40-4PM;  In Person/Online-Hybrid


Creative writing workshop in multiple genres, from fiction to poetry to scriptwriting, intended to introduce students to the basic tools and terminology of the fine art of creative writing. Participants also read contemporary works, give a public reading, and attend Writers Speak, the Wednesday reading series, or an equivalent.