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Courses and Topics

View all courses in the Undergraduate Bulletin

Current Topics for workshops and courses are here.

What is a workshop?

CWL 300-325 are creative writing workshops, usually focused on a single genre like fiction or poetry. Workshops generally involve submission and discussion of students' original work. A "submission" is when you circulate your writing assignment to the other students and your professor ahead of time. Everyone reads your work and writes comments on it to prepare for class, so that, together, they can critique your work. Don't worry! Critiques are constructive, structured discussions, not open season on tearing the work down. Some workshops might be generative, with lots of writing prompts. Others might focus more on revision, with take-home writing assignments. It all depends on the professor and the topic (see below). Students must take the prerequisite, CWL 202, prior to enrolling in 300-level writing workshops. 

What is a Topic?

All of our course numbers, from CWL 202 to the 300-level writing workshops to the "read like a writer" courses (CWL 330-340) are broadly defined. To figure out what's really going on in a particular section during a particular semester, you need to look at its topic. Then you can decide whether that course will further your aims as an artist. The creative writing program circulates and posts the list of upcoming topics prior to the registration period. 

Since topics and professors change each semester, our courses are repeatable for credit. That means a student devoted to poetry, for example, can take CWL 310, Forms of Poetry, multiple times, each semester of it will be unique, and all of those credits will count toward the major or minor. Minors may choose to specialize or to sample a variety of genres. Majors, who are required to take some courses outside their genre, will tend to specialize as they approach their senior project. But with this freedom to take any combination of workshops within the CWL 300-325 range, you can build your own BFA. 

Scroll up and click on the link for our most recent topic descriptions.

Here are the broadly defined descriptions of our courses:

CWL 190: Introduction to Contemporary Literature

Seminar surveying recent works in a genre or topic, to introduce students to poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction or a combination of selections focusing on a particular theme. Participants will develop skills of interpretation and analysis through reading and writing about contemporary literature.
Prerequisite: WRT 102
DEC B, SBC HUM
3 credits

CWL 202: Introduction to Creative Writing

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.
DEC D, SBC ARTS
3 credits

CWL 250: Join the Conversation

A craft course with substantial reading component.  This class explores enduring tropes in literature across time and cultures, introducing students to the idea that writing is a live and ever evolving, and thus ever significant medium. By taking contemporary works and tracing them back to their origins, students learn to place the work of various writers – including their own − in a meaningful literary continuum.  Sequences might include Ovid to Kafka to Francine Prose; Shakespeare to Angela Carter or Jane Smiley; Beowulf to Grendell ; The Tempest to Brave New World ; Charlotte Bronte to Jean Rhys; Sophocles to Anne Carson.
Required for the major
Prerequisite: CWL 190, CWL 202
3 credits
 

CWL 300: Forms of Creative Nonfiction

Study of the genre through readings, discussion and regular submission of original work. Course explores methods for expressing the human condition made available through creative nonfiction, with examples from the tradition and exploration of the nature of fact, memory, subjectivity and perspective. Areas of study include Personal Essay, Memoir, Blogs and Alternate Forms, the Journal, Historical Inquiry and Social Commentary. Course may be repeated as the topic changes.
Prerequisite: CWL 202
DEC G, SBC HFA+, WRTD
3 credits

CWL 305: Forms of Fiction

Study of the genre through readings, discussion and regular submission of original work. Course explores methods for expressing the human condition made available through fiction, with examples from the tradition that illustrate point of view, character development, dialogue, plot, setting, theme, motif, and other elements. Areas of study include Short Story, Novella, The Popular Novel, Graphic Novels and Writing Funny. Course may be repeated as the topic changes.
Prerequisite: CWL 202
DEC G, SBC HFA+, WRTD
3 credits

CWL 310: Forms of Poetry

Study of the genre through readings, discussion and regular submission of original work. Course explores methods for expressing the human condition made available through poetry, with examples from the tradition of such tools as metaphor and image, sound, line, form, and juxtaposition. Areas of study include Powers of Poetry, Bright Containers: Form & Meter, and Methods & Madness, a study of the philosophical vs. visionary strains in poetry. Course may be repeated as the topic changes.
Prerequisite: CWL 202
DEC G, SBC HFA+, WRTD
3 credits

CWL 315: Forms of Scriptwriting

Study of the genre through readings, screenings, discussion and regular submission of original writing for film or theater. Course explores methods for expressing the human condition made available through these collaborative media. Areas of study include Fundamentals of Dramatic Action, Visual Storytelling, Message Movies, Writing the One Act, and Extreme Events. Course may be repeated as the topic changes.
Prerequisite: CWL 202
DEC G, SBC HFA+, WRTD
3 credits

CWL 320: Forms of Interdisciplinary Arts

Regular submission, discussion, and analysis of students' work in conjunction with active engagement with the world beyond the page in order to explore methods for expressing the human condition not available through study in a single genre. Areas of interdisciplinary involvement include writing across genres (Writing Nature); production of the written word (Poetry Bookmaking, Performing & Production); and partnering to write (Endangered Languages: Poetry & the Oral Tradition, Documentary Screenwriting in a Sustainable World, and Testimony in Creative Nonfiction). Students may repeat this course as the genre and topic in the humanities change.
Prerequisite: CWL 202
DEC G, SBC EXP+, WRTD
3 credits

CWL 325: Forms of Science Writing

Regular submission, discussion and analysis of students' work in one or more areas of science writing in order to examine the impact of science and literature on one another. Areas of study include Introduction to Science Writing, Environmental Writing and the Media, and Elegance & Complexity: Researched Writing and Writing the Interview. Course may be repeated as the topic changes.
Prerequisite: 1 D.E.C. E and 1 D.E.C. F; CWL 202
DEC G, SBC STAS, WRTD
3 credits

CWL 330: Topics in European Literature for Writers

A lecture for writers concentrating on one area of European literature, to be announced in the course schedule. The course may examine a historical trend in Western literature from multiple viewpoints, the rise of a specific genre, a social issue expressed in literature, or an issue in literary theory, as, for example, The Russian Novel; Classic Plots; Ibsen, Shaw and the Introduction of Feminism to Great Britain; Political Comedy on the Modern European Stage; and Reading Nature. The emphasis will be on scholarly analysis, but with engagement of student writers. Students may repeat this course as the topic changes.
Prerequisite: completion of D.E.C. B
Advisory Prerequisite: CWL 190
DEC I, SBC HFA+, GLO
3 credits

CWL 335: Topics in American Literature for Writers

A seminar for writers concentrating on one area of American literature, to be announced in the course schedule. The course may examine a contemporary or historical trend in American literature, the rise of a specific genre, a social issue expressed in literature, an issue in literary theory, or any other exploration of American pluralism as, for example, Ethics and the Crime Novel; Varieties of American Humor; Southern Renaissance; and Contemporary Poetry Wars. The emphasis will be on scholarly analysis, but with engagement of student writers. Students may repeat this course as the topic changes.
Prerequisite: completion of D.E.C. B
Advisory Prerequisite: CWL 190
DEC K, SBC HFA+, USA
3 credits

CWL 340: Topics in World Literature for Writers

A literature course for writers concentrating on one area, to be announced in the course schedule, of non-Western culture. Topics could include a contemporary or historical trend, a social issue, or any other topic of expression that illuminates national, regional or cultural difference, as, for example, Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond; Contemporary World Fiction for Writers; Reading Nature in Japanese Poetry; Varieties of the Short Story; and Asian Theatre and Drama. The emphasis will be on scholarly analysis, but with engagement of student writers. Students may repeat this course as topic changes.
Prerequisite: completion of D.E.C. B
Advisory Prerequisite: CWL 190
DEC J, SBC HFA+, GLO
3 credits

CWL 390: The Ethics of the Creative Imagination

Seminar focused on the ethical questions raised by the literary imagination. Is it moral for a memoirist to spill family secrets, for a fiction writer to use the biographical facts of a real person for a character, or for a poet to appropriate language from another poem? Do the moral standards for writers differ over time and place? Students read a range of excerpts, essays, articles, and books by authors ranging from Plato to Gioia. They conduct biographical, historical, or sociological research on a specific ethical dilemma and present it to the class for debate.
Required for the major.
Prerequisite : CWL 250
4 credits
 

CWL 450: Senior Project

A weekly seminar in planning and executing an independent, interdisciplinary creative writing project, the culmination of the minor, to be taken while writing the manuscript. The nature of the manuscript is up to the individual, though the concept must be approved by the program director before the student can enroll in this course. Projects could incorporate a theme or insight from the writer's major area of study or from any discipline beyond creative writing that engages the writer. Weekly class meetings give structure to the independent writing process, helping minors to plan, research and locate the resources they need. In the second half of the course, guest speakers with expertise in the areas students are encountering will be brought in.
Prerequisite: permission of the Director of the Creative Writing minor
SBC EXP+, WRTD
3 credits

CWL 487: Mind the Gap: Independent Reading

Independent or small group study intended to close gaps in the student’s reading life and hone their research skills. With a mentor, students develop a list of at least ten major works in the literary cannon that the student has not read, then they read, research, discuss, and write about those works. Among the research skills taught are using academic databases, interviewing experts, finding primary sources, and using visual/audio sources, along with proper citation, assessments of credibility, and ethical uses of information.
Required for the major
4 credits

CWL 499: Thesis

Mentorship in generating, revising and polishing a manuscript. One or two credits of this course are taken in conjunction with CWL 450, the Senior Project seminar. The remaining credits are taken in the semester immediately following the Senior Project seminar. Students repeat this course for credit as the topic changes from drafting to revision.
Required for the major
Prerequisite : CWL 250
Corequisite : CWL 450
4 credits
 
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