Creative Writing

Undergraduate Creative Writing Program Office: 609 Kent; 212-854-3774
http://arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Prof. Heidi Julavits, 609 Kent; 212-854-3774; hj26@columbia.edu

Executive Committee on Undergraduate Creative Writing:
Prof. Timothy Donnelly, Poetry (Chair), 415 Dodge; 212-854-4391; td28@columbia.edu
Prof. Margo Jefferson, Nonfiction, 609 Kent; 212-854-3774; mlj4@columbia.edu
Prof. Heidi Julavits, Fiction, 609 Kent; 212-854-3774; hj26@columbia.edu
Prof. Dorothea "Dottie" Lasky, Poetry, 609 Kent; 212-854-3774; dsl2121@columbia.edu
Prof. Sam Lipsyte, Fiction, 609 Kent; 212-854-3774; sam.lipsyte@columbia.edu
Prof. Alan Ziegler, Fiction, 415 Dodge; 212-854-4391; az8@columbia.edu

The Creative Writing Program in The School of the Arts combines intensive writing workshops with seminars that study literature from a writer's perspective. Students develop and hone their literary technique in workshops. The seminars (which explore literary technique and history) broaden their sense of possibility by exposing them to various ways that language has been used to make art. Related courses are drawn from departments such as English, comparative literature and society, philosophy, history, and anthropology, among others.

Students consult with faculty advisers to determine the related courses that best inform their creative work. The creative writing major is by application only. For details, see the Creative Writing website: http://arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Professors

  • Margo L. Jefferson
  • Benjamin Marcus
  • Alan Ziegler

Associate Professors

  • Susan Bernofsky
  • Timothy Donnelly
  • Heidi Julavits
  • Ben Metcalf
  • Deborah Paredez
  • Sam Lipsyte

Assistant Professors

  • Dorothea "Dottie" Lasky
  • Victor LaValle

Adjunct Professors

  • Sarah Broom
  • Anelise Chen
  • Leopoldine Core
  • Jon Cotner
  • Meehan Crist
  • Anais Duplan
  • Joseph Fasano
  • Jennifer George
  • Mitchell Jackson
  • Elianna Kan
  • Alexandra Kleeman
  • Marni Ludwig
  • David Tomas Martinez
  • Mark Rozzo
  • Kate Zambreno

Graduate Faculty Fellows

Lily Blacksell

Anne Brink

Tyler Curtis

Moeko Fujii

Theresa Hottel

Jarret Leong

Madelaine Lucas

Georgette Mallory

Kalle Mattila

Trent Pollard

Catherine Powell

Robert Ren

Nicola Sebastian

Sihan Tan

Rashida Williams

  •  
  •  

Major in Creative Writing

The major in creative writing requires a minimum of 36 points: five workshops, four seminars, and three related courses.

Workshop Curriculum (15 points)

Students in the workshops produce original works of fiction, poetry, or nonfiction, and submit them to their classmates and instructor for a close critical analysis. Workshop critiques (which include detailed written reports and thorough line-edits) assess the mechanics and merits of the writing pieces. Individual instructor conferences distill the critiques into a direct plan of action to improve the work. Student writers develop by practicing the craft under the diligent critical attention of their peers and instructor, which guides them toward new levels of creative endeavor.

Creative writing majors select 15 points within the division in the following courses. One workshop must be in a genre other than the primary focus. For instance, a fiction writer might take four fiction workshops and one poetry workshop.

Beginning Workshop
Designed for students who have little or no previous experience writing literary texts in a particular genre.
WRIT UN1100Beginning Fiction Workshop
WRIT UN1200Beginning Nonfiction Workshop
WRIT UN1300Beginning Poetry Workshop
Intermediate Workshop
Permission required. Admission by writing sample. Enrollment limited to 15. Course may be repeated in fulfillment of the major.
WRIT UN2100Intermediate Fiction Workshop
WRIT UN2200Intermediate Nonfiction Workshop
WRIT UN2300Intermediate Poetry Workshop
Advanced Workshop
Permission required. Admission by writing sample. Enrollment limited to 15. Course may be repeated in fulfillment of the major.
WRIT UN3100Advanced Fiction Workshop
WRIT UN3200Advanced Nonfiction Workshop
WRIT UN3300Advanced Poetry Workshop
Senior Creative Writing Workshop
Seniors who are creative writing majors are given priority. Enrollment limited to 12, by instructor's permission. The senior workshop offers students the opportunity to work exclusively with classmates who are at the same high level of accomplishment in the major. This course is only offered by graduate faculty professors.
WRIT UN3101Senior Fiction Workshop
WRIT W3798Senior Nonfiction Workshop
WRIT UN3301Senior Poetry Workshop

Seminar Curriculum (12 points)

The creative writing seminars form the intellectual ballast of our program.  Our seminars offer a close examination of literary techniques such as plot, point of view, tone, and voice.  They seek to inform and inspire students by exposing them to a wide variety of approaches in their chosen genre.  Our curriculum, via these seminars, actively responds not only to historical literary concerns, but to contemporary ones as well.  Extensive readings are required, along with short critical papers and/or creative exercises.  By closely analyzing diverse works of literature and participating in roundtable discussions, writers build the resources necessary to produce their own accomplished creative work. 

Creative writing majors select 12 points within the division. Any 4 seminars will fulfill the requirement, no matter the student's chosen genre concentration.  Below is a sampling of our seminars.  The list of seminars currently being offered can be found in the "Courses" section. 

These seminars offer close examination of literary techniques such as plot, point of view, tone, suspense, and narrative voice. Extensive readings are required, along with creative exercises.
FICTION
WRIT W3296Fiction Seminar: How To Build A Person
WRIT W3520Fiction Seminar: The Here & Now
WRIT W3290Fiction Seminar First Novels: How They Work
WRIT W3294Fiction Seminar: The Craft Of Writing Dialogue
NONFICTION
WRIT W3680Nonfiction Seminar: The Literary Reporter
WRIT W3323Nonfiction Seminar: Learning to See: Writing The Visual
WRIT UN3217
WRIT W3325Nonfiction Seminar: Truths & Facts: Creative License In Nonfiction
POETRY
WRIT W3353Poetry Seminar: Traditions in Poetry
WRIT W3370Poetry Seminar: The Crisis of the I
WRIT W3365Poetry Seminar: 21st Century American Poetry and Its Concerns
WRIT W3367Poetry Seminar - Witness, Record, Document: Poetry & Testimony
CROSS GENRE
WRIT W3386Cross Genre Seminar: Imagining Berlin
WRIT GU4012
WRIT UN3016Cross Genre Seminar: Walking
WRIT W3530Cross-Genre Seminar: Process Writing & Writing Process

Related Courses (9 points)

Drawn from various departments, these courses provide concentrated intellectual and creative stimulation, as well as exposure to ideas that enrich students' artistic instincts. Courses may be different for each student writer. Students should consult with faculty advisers to determine the related courses that best inform their creative work.

WRIT UN1001 Beginning Fiction Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The beginning workshop in fiction is designed for students with little or no experience writing literary texts in fiction. Students are introduced to a range of technical and imaginative concerns through exercises and discussions, and they eventually produce their own writing for the critical analysis of the class. The focus of the course is on the rudiments of voice, character, setting, point of view, plot, and lyrical use of language.  Students will begin to develop the critical skills that will allow them to read like writers and understand, on a technical level, how accomplished creative writing is produced. Outside readings of a wide range of fiction supplement and inform the exercises and longer written projects.

WRIT W1001 Beginning Fiction Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The beginning workshop in fiction is designed for students with little or no experience writing literary texts in fiction. Students are introduced to a range of technical and imaginative concerns through exercises and discussions, and they eventually produce their own writing for the critical analysis of the class. The focus of the course is on the rudiments of voice, character, setting, point of view, plot, and lyrical use of language.  Students will begin to develop the critical skills that will allow them to read like writers and understand, on a technical level, how accomplished creative writing is produced. Outside readings of a wide range of fiction supplement and inform the exercises and longer written projects.

WRIT UN1100 Beginning Fiction Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The beginning workshop in fiction is designed for students with little or no experience writing literary texts in fiction. Students are introduced to a range of technical and imaginative concerns through exercises and discussions, and they eventually produce their own writing for the critical analysis of the class. The focus of the course is on the rudiments of voice, character, setting, point of view, plot, and lyrical use of language.  Students will begin to develop the critical skills that will allow them to read like writers and understand, on a technical level, how accomplished creative writing is produced. Outside readings of a wide range of fiction supplement and inform the exercises and longer written projects.

Spring 2017: WRIT UN1100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 1100 001/10750 M 12:10pm - 2:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Arielle Braverman 3 13/15
WRIT 1100 002/17926 Th 4:10pm - 6:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Nancy Brown 3 12/15
WRIT 1100 003/18272 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Samuel Clegg 3 10/15
WRIT 1100 004/24192 W 12:10pm - 2:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Ryan Meehan 3 14/15
Fall 2017: WRIT UN1100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 1100 001/70290 T 10:10am - 12:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Jarret Leong 3 10/15
WRIT 1100 002/23195 Th 12:10pm - 2:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Madelaine Lucas 3 13/15
WRIT 1100 003/14818 Th 10:10am - 12:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Catherine Powell 3 14/15
WRIT 1100 004/74705 M 12:10pm - 2:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Yin Ren 3 12/15

WRIT UN1101 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The beginning workshop in nonfiction is designed for students with little or no experience in writing literary nonfiction. Students are introduced to a range of technical and imaginative concerns through exercises and discussions, and they eventually submit their own writing for the critical analysis of the class. Outside readings supplement and inform the exercises and longer written projects.

WRIT W1101 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The beginning workshop in nonfiction is designed for students with little or no experience in writing literary nonfiction. Students are introduced to a range of technical and imaginative concerns through exercises and discussions, and they eventually submit their own writing for the critical analysis of the class. Outside readings supplement and inform the exercises and longer written projects.

WRIT UN1200 Beginning Nonfiction Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The beginning workshop in nonfiction is designed for students with little or no experience in writing literary nonfiction. Students are introduced to a range of technical and imaginative concerns through exercises and discussions, and they eventually submit their own writing for the critical analysis of the class. Outside readings supplement and inform the exercises and longer written projects.

Spring 2017: WRIT UN1200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 1200 001/29872 Th 12:10pm - 2:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Jordan Kisner 3 14/15
WRIT 1200 002/26331 M 6:10pm - 8:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Kristi Dilallo 3 12/15
Fall 2017: WRIT UN1200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 1200 001/62637 W 12:10pm - 2:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Georgette Mallory 3 10/15
WRIT 1200 002/27452 W 6:10pm - 8:00pm
502 Northwest Corner
Kalle Mattila 3 14/15

WRIT UN1201 Beginning Poetry Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The beginning poetry workshop is designed for students who have a serious interest in poetry writing but who lack a significant background in the rudiments of the craft and/or have had little or no previous poetry workshop experience. Students will be assigned weekly writing exercises emphasizing such aspects of verse composition as the poetic line, the image, rhyme and other sound devices, verse forms, repetition, tone, irony, and others. Students will also read an extensive variety of exemplary work in verse, submit brief critical analyses of poems, and critique each other's original work.

WRIT W1201 Beginning Poetry Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The beginning poetry workshop is designed for students who have a serious interest in poetry writing but who lack a significant background in the rudiments of the craft and/or have had little or no previous poetry workshop experience. Students will be assigned weekly writing exercises emphasizing such aspects of verse composition as the poetic line, the image, rhyme and other sound devices, verse forms, repetition, tone, irony, and others. Students will also read an extensive variety of exemplary work in verse, submit brief critical analyses of poems, and critique each other's original work.

WRIT UN1300 Beginning Poetry Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The beginning poetry workshop is designed for students who have a serious interest in poetry writing but who lack a significant background in the rudiments of the craft and/or have had little or no previous poetry workshop experience. Students will be assigned weekly writing exercises emphasizing such aspects of verse composition as the poetic line, the image, rhyme and other sound devices, verse forms, repetition, tone, irony, and others. Students will also read an extensive variety of exemplary work in verse, submit brief critical analyses of poems, and critique each other's original work.

Spring 2017: WRIT UN1300
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 1300 001/63954 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Emily Skillings 3 16/15
Fall 2017: WRIT UN1300
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 1300 001/63865 W 6:10pm - 8:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Lily Blacksell 3 14/15
WRIT 1300 002/70604 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Anne Brink 3 14/15

WRIT UN2001 Intermediate Fiction Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Intermediate workshops are for students with some experience with creative writing, and whose prior work merits admission to the class (as judged by the professor).  Intermediate workshops present a higher creative standard than beginning workshops, and increased expectations to produce finished work.  By the end of the semester, each student will have produced at least seventy pages of original fiction.  Students are additionally expected to write extensive critiques of the work of their peers.

WRIT W2001 Intermediate Fiction Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Intermediate workshops are for students with some experience with creative writing, and whose prior work merits admission to the class (as judged by the professor).  Intermediate workshops present a higher creative standard than beginning workshops, and increased expectations to produce finished work.  By the end of the semester, each student will have produced at least seventy pages of original fiction.  Students are additionally expected to write extensive critiques of the work of their peers.

WRIT UN2100 Intermediate Fiction Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Intermediate workshops are for students with some experience with creative writing, and whose prior work merits admission to the class (as judged by the professor).  Intermediate workshops present a higher creative standard than beginning workshops, and increased expectations to produce finished work.  By the end of the semester, each student will have produced at least seventy pages of original fiction.  Students are additionally expected to write extensive critiques of the work of their peers.

Spring 2017: WRIT UN2100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2100 001/27222 M 4:10pm - 6:00pm
701 Dodge Building
Alexandra Kleeman 3 15/15
WRIT 2100 002/10726 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
411 Dodge Building
Samuel Graham-Felsen 3 12/15
Fall 2017: WRIT UN2100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2100 001/24623 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
504 Dodge Building
Leopoldine Core 3 15/15
WRIT 2100 002/74854 Th 4:10pm - 6:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Heidi Julavits 3 15/15

WRIT UN2101 Intermediate Nonfiction Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

The intermediate workshop in nonfiction is designed for students with some experience in writing literary nonfiction. Intermediate workshops present a higher creative standard than beginning workshops and an expectation that students will produce finished work. Outside readings supplement and inform the exercises and longer written projects. By the end of the semester, students will have produced thirty to forty pages of original work in at least two traditions of literary nonfiction.

WRIT W2101 Intermediate Nonfiction Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

The intermediate workshop in nonfiction is designed for students with some experience in writing literary nonfiction. Intermediate workshops present a higher creative standard than beginning workshops and an expectation that students will produce finished work. Outside readings supplement and inform the exercises and longer written projects. By the end of the semester, students will have produced thirty to forty pages of original work in at least two traditions of literary nonfiction.

WRIT UN2110 Fiction Seminar: Approaches to the Short Story. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The modern short story has gone through many transformations, and the innovations of its practitioners have often pointed the way for prose fiction as a whole. The short story has been seized upon and refreshed by diverse cultures and aesthetic affiliations, so that perhaps the only stable definition of the form remains the famous one advanced by Poe, one of its early masters, as a work of fiction that can be read in one sitting. Still, common elements of the form have emerged over the last century and this course will study them, including Point of View, Plot, Character, Setting, and Theme. John Hawkes once famously called these last four elements the "enemies of the novel," and many short story writers have seen them as hindrances as well. Hawkes later recanted, though some writers would still agree with his earlier assessment, and this course will examine the successful strategies of great writers across the spectrum of short story practice, from traditional approaches to more radical solutions, keeping in mind how one period's revolution - Hemingway, for example - becomes a later era's mainstream or "common-sense" storytelling mode. By reading the work of major writers from a writer's perspective, we will examine the myriad techniques employed for what is finally a common goal: to make readers feel. Short writing exercises will help us explore the exhilarating subtleties of these elements and how the effects created by their manipulation or even outright absence power our most compelling fictions.

Fall 2017: WRIT UN2110
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2110 001/60085 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Samuel Lipsyte 3 15/15

WRIT UN2200 Intermediate Nonfiction Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

The intermediate workshop in nonfiction is designed for students with some experience in writing literary nonfiction. Intermediate workshops present a higher creative standard than beginning workshops and an expectation that students will produce finished work. Outside readings supplement and inform the exercises and longer written projects. By the end of the semester, students will have produced thirty to forty pages of original work in at least two traditions of literary nonfiction.

Spring 2017: WRIT UN2200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2200 001/17331 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Elizabeth Greenwood 3 13/15
Fall 2017: WRIT UN2200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2200 001/22509 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Sarah Broom 3 13/15

WRIT UN2201 Intermediate Poetry Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Intermediate poetry workshops are for students with some prior instruction in the rudiments of poetry writing and prior poetry workshop experience. Intermediate poetry workshops pose greater challenges to students and maintain higher critical standards than beginning workshops. Students will be instructed in more complex aspects of the craft, including the poetic persona, the prose poem, the collage, open-field composition, and others. They will also be assigned more challenging verse forms such as the villanelle and also non-European verse forms such as the pantoum. They will read extensively, submit brief critical analyses, and put their instruction into regular practice by composing original work that will be critiqued by their peers. By the end of the semester each student will have assembled a substantial portfolio of finished work.

WRIT W2201 Intermediate Poetry Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Intermediate poetry workshops are for students with some prior instruction in the rudiments of poetry writing and prior poetry workshop experience. Intermediate poetry workshops pose greater challenges to students and maintain higher critical standards than beginning workshops. Students will be instructed in more complex aspects of the craft, including the poetic persona, the prose poem, the collage, open-field composition, and others. They will also be assigned more challenging verse forms such as the villanelle and also non-European verse forms such as the pantoum. They will read extensively, submit brief critical analyses, and put their instruction into regular practice by composing original work that will be critiqued by their peers. By the end of the semester each student will have assembled a substantial portfolio of finished work.

WRIT UN2211 Nonfiction Seminar: Traditions in Nonfiction. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The seminar provides exposure to the varieties of nonfiction with readings in its principal genres: reportage, criticism and commentary, biography and history, and memoir and the personal essay.  A highly plastic medium, nonfiction allows authors to portray real events and experiences through narrative, analysis, polemic or any combination thereof.  Free to invent everything but the facts, great practitioners of nonfiction are faithful to reality while writing with a voice and a vision distinctively their own.  To show how nonfiction is conceived and constructed, class discussions will emphasize the relationship of content to form and style, techniques for creating plot and character under the factual constraints imposed by nonfiction, the defining characteristics of each author's voice, the author's subjectivity and presence, the role of imagination and emotion, the uses of humor, and the importance of speculation and attitude.  Written assignments will be opportunities to experiment in several nonfiction genres and styles.

Fall 2017: WRIT UN2211
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2211 001/13709 M 6:10pm - 8:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Mark Rozzo 3 13/15

WRIT UN2300 Intermediate Poetry Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Intermediate poetry workshops are for students with some prior instruction in the rudiments of poetry writing and prior poetry workshop experience. Intermediate poetry workshops pose greater challenges to students and maintain higher critical standards than beginning workshops. Students will be instructed in more complex aspects of the craft, including the poetic persona, the prose poem, the collage, open-field composition, and others. They will also be assigned more challenging verse forms such as the villanelle and also non-European verse forms such as the pantoum. They will read extensively, submit brief critical analyses, and put their instruction into regular practice by composing original work that will be critiqued by their peers. By the end of the semester each student will have assembled a substantial portfolio of finished work.

Spring 2017: WRIT UN2300
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2300 001/28937 W 6:10pm - 8:00pm
407 Dodge Building
Carey McHugh 3 14/15
Fall 2017: WRIT UN2300
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2300 001/18027 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Anais Duplan 3 10/15

WRIT UN2310 Poetry Seminar: Approaches to Poetry. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

One advantage of writing poetry within a rich and crowded literary tradition is that there are many poetic tools available out there, stranded where their last practitioners dropped them, some of them perhaps clichéd and overused, yet others all but forgotten or ignored.  In this class, students will isolate, describe, analyze, and put to use these many tools, while attempting to refurbish and contemporize them for the new century.  Students can expect to imitate and/or subvert various poetic styles, voices, and forms, to invent their own poetic forms and rules, to think in terms of not only specific poetic forms and metrics, but of overall poetic architecture (lineation and diction, repetition and surprise, irony and sincerity, rhyme and soundscape), and finally, to leave those traditions behind and learn to strike out in their own direction, to write -- as poet Frank O'Hara said -- on their own nerve.

WRIT W2310 Poetry Seminar: Approaches to Poetry. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

One advantage of writing poetry within a rich and crowded literary tradition is that there are many poetic tools available out there, stranded where their last practitioners dropped them, some of them perhaps clichéd and overused, yet others all but forgotten or ignored.  In this class, students will isolate, describe, analyze, and put to use these many tools, while attempting to refurbish and contemporize them for the new century.  Students can expect to imitate and/or subvert various poetic styles, voices, and forms, to invent their own poetic forms and rules, to think in terms of not only specific poetic forms and metrics, but of overall poetic architecture (lineation and diction, repetition and surprise, irony and sincerity, rhyme and soundscape), and finally, to leave those traditions behind and learn to strike out in their own direction, to write -- as poet Frank O'Hara said -- on their own nerve.

WRIT UN2311 Poetry Seminar: Traditions in Poetry. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Lyric poetry in contemporary practice continues to draw upon and modify its ancient sources, as well as Renaissance, Romantic and Modernist traditions.  In this seminar, we will explore the creation of the voice of the poem, the wild lyrical I, through closely reading female poets from antiquity to present day, beginning with Anne Carson's translations of Sappho, If Not Winter, all the way up to present avatars and noted sylists such as Mary Jo Bang (Elegy), Traci K. Smith (Life on Mars), Bernadette Mayer (New Directions Reader), Eileen Myles (Not Me), Maggie Nelson (Bluets) and others.  The identity of the poetic speaker remains with inescapable ties to memory and experience as one mode of the lyric, and with the dramatic topes of mask and persona as another.  Students will be asked to hear a range of current and classic women poets deploying, constructing and annihilating the self: the sonnets of Queen Elizabeth and the American beginnings of Anne Bradstreet; the emergence in the 19th century of iconic and radicalizing female presences: Emily Bronte, Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, Elizabeth Barrett Browning; and the predominance of 20th century masters who re-invented the English-language lyric as much as they inherited: Louise Bogan, Gwendolyn Brooks, H.D., Marianne Moore, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Laura Riding, and Gertrude Stein.  As background, students will read prose works (epistolary, writing, journals and diaries, classic essays as well as prose poetry), which may contextualize women's desire and its reception in public and private space: the religious mysticism of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Dorothy Wordsworth's journals, Emily Dickinson's letters, and Virginia Woolf's criticism and novels.  Students will be expected to keep their own reading diary or write letters in response to class readings, as well as select a classic and contemporary female poet for semester-long research.  Additional course handouts will be organized by particular groupings of interest to our study of desire & identity, voice & witness:  Confessional poetry (Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton), Cave Canem poets (Harryette Mullen and Natasha Trethway), New York School (Alice Notley and Hannah Weiner), as well as additional contemporary poets (Lyn Melnick and Matthea Harvey).

Spring 2017: WRIT UN2311
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2311 001/67165 Th 4:10pm - 6:00pm
558 Ext Schermerhorn Hall
Camille Rankine 3 14/15

WRIT W3001 Advanced Fiction Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Building on the work of the Intermediate Workshop, Advanced Workshops are reserved for the most accomplished creative writing students. A significant body of writing must be produced and revised.  Particular attention will be paid to the components of fiction: voice, perspective, characterization, and form.  Students will be expected to finish several short stories, executing a total artistic vision on a piece of writing. The critical focus of the class will include an examination of endings and formal wholeness, sustaining narrative arcs, compelling a reader's interest for the duration of the text, and generating a sense of urgency and drama in the work.

WRIT UN3010 Cross Genre Seminar: Short Prose Forms. 3 points.

Note: This seminar has a workshop component.

Prerequisites: No Prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

"Flash fiction," "micro-naratives" and the "short-short" have become exciting areas of exploration for contemporary writers.  This course will examine how these literary fragments have captured the imagination of writers internationally and at home.  The larger question the class seeks to answer, both on a collective and individual level, is: How can we craft a working definition of those elements endemic to "short prose" as a genre?  Does the form exceed classification?  What aspects of both crafts -- prose and poetry -- does this genre inhabit, expand upon, reinvent, reject, subvert? Short Prose Forms incorporates aspects of both literary seminar and the creative workshop.  Class-time will be devoted alternatingly to examinations of published pieces and modified discussions of student work.  Our reading chart the course from the genre's emergence, examining the prose poem in 19th-century France through the works of Mallarme, Baudelaire, Max Jacob and Rimbaud.  We'll examine aspects of poetry -- the attention to the lyrical, the use of compression, musicality, sonic resonances and wit -- and attempt to understand how these writers took, as Russell Edson describes, "experience [and] made it into an artifact with the logic of a dream."  The class will conclude with a portfolio at the end of the term, in which students will submit a compendium of final drafts of three of four short prose pieces, samples of several exercises, selescted responses to readings, and a short personal manifesto on the "short prose form.

Spring 2017: WRIT UN3010
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3010 001/75252 Th 6:10pm - 8:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Alan Ziegler 3 8/15

WRIT UN3011 Translation Seminar. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Students do not need to demonstrate bilingual ability to take this course. Department approval NOT needed.
Corequisites: This course is open to undergraduate & graduate students.

This course will explore broad-ranging questions pertaining to the historical, cultural, and political significance of translation while analyzing the various challenges confronted by the art's foremost practitioners.  We will read and discuss texts by writers and theorists such as Benjamin, Derrida, Borges, Steiner, Dryden, Nabokov, Schleiermacher, Goethe, Spivak, Jakobson, and Venuti.  As readers and practitioners of translation, we will train our ears to detect the visibility of invisibility of the translator's craft; through short writing experiments, we will discover how to identify and capture the nuances that traverse literary styles, historical periods and cultures.  The course will culminate in a final project that may either be a critical analysis or an original translation accompanied by a translator's note of introduction.

Spring 2017: WRIT UN3011
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3011 001/73379 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
613 Hamilton Hall
Elianna Kan 3 15/15

WRIT UN3016 Cross Genre Seminar: Walking. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

As Walter Benjamin notes in The Arcades Project: "Basic to flanerie, among other things, is the idea that the fruits of idleness are more precious than the fruits of labor.  The flaneur, as is well known, makes 'studies'."  This course will encourage you to make "studies" -- poems, essays, stories, or multimedia pieces -- based on your walks.  We will read depictions of walking from multiple disciplines, including philosophy, poetry, history, religion, visual art, and urban planning.  Occasionally we will walk together.  An important point of the course is to develop mobile forms of writing.  How can writing emerge from, and document, a walk's encounters, observations, and reflections?  What advantages does mobility bring to our work?  Each week you will write a short piece (1-3 pages) that engages your walks while responding to close readings of the assigned material. 

Fall 2017: WRIT UN3016
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3016 001/69570 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
511 Kent Hall
John Cotner 3 15/15

WRIT UN3044 Imaginative Writing. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Suggested preparation: Structure and Style I and II.

Students should, if possible, submit a writing sample (5-10 pages of poetry or fiction) to the instructor before the first class meeting.

WRIT W3044 Imaginative Writing. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Suggested preparation: Structure and Style I and II.
Students should, if possible, submit a writing sample (5-10 pages of poetry or fiction) to the instructor before the first class meeting

WRIT UN3100 Advanced Fiction Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Building on the work of the Intermediate Workshop, Advanced Workshops are reserved for the most accomplished creative writing students. A significant body of writing must be produced and revised.  Particular attention will be paid to the components of fiction: voice, perspective, characterization, and form.  Students will be expected to finish several short stories, executing a total artistic vision on a piece of writing. The critical focus of the class will include an examination of endings and formal wholeness, sustaining narrative arcs, compelling a reader's interest for the duration of the text, and generating a sense of urgency and drama in the work.

Spring 2017: WRIT UN3100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3100 001/26623 W 6:10pm - 8:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Rebecca Curtis 3 11/15
WRIT 3100 002/13786 W 12:10pm - 2:00pm
701 Dodge Building
Ruvani Freeman 3 10/15
Fall 2017: WRIT UN3100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3100 001/28036 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Jennifer George 3 9/15
WRIT 3100 002/72270 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
504 Dodge Building
Alexandra Kleeman 3 14/15

WRIT UN3101 Senior Fiction Workshop. 4 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Seniors who are majors in creative writing are given priority for this course.  Enrollment is limited, and is by permission of the professor.  The senior workshop offers students the opportunity to work exclusively with classmates who are at the same high level of accomplishment in the major.  Students in the senior workshops will produce and revise a new and substantial body of work.  In-class critiques and conferences with the professor will be tailored to needs of each student.

Spring 2017: WRIT UN3101
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3101 001/67418 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Porochista Khakpour 4 13/12
Fall 2017: WRIT UN3101
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3101 001/10148 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Mitchell Jackson 4 14/12

WRIT W3110 Fiction Seminar: The Long and Short of It. 3 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The critic Randall Jarrell famously defined the novel as "a prose work of a certain length that has something wrong with it." In this class we will pay close attention to how writers determine the appropriate "certain length" for their narratives by focusing on another notoriously difficult-to-define form, the novella. Simply but unhelpfully, we might say that a novella is longer than a short story and shorter than a novel. But how does length affect the way a writer handles (or dispenses with) such essentials as plotting, characterization, and sense of place? What strategies are used to compress or expand time in novellas or long stories that take place in a single day, over the course of several days, or across many decades? What kind of statement can be made, and what kind of linguistic experience can be had in this intermediate length? We will start the semester by reading "flash fiction" together--stories of no more than a few hundred words--by writers such as Lydia Davis, Raymond Carver, and David Foster Wallace. Then we will read a novella a week, peering behind the curtain to see how they are put together. Authors may include Fyodor Dostoevsky, Arthur Conan Doyle, Herman Melville, James Joyce, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Yasunari Kawabata, Albert Camus, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Paula Fox, Alice Munro, Roberto Bolao, Martin Amis, and George Saunders. Students will write two creative-writing assignments and give one in-class presentation.

WRIT UN3111 Fiction Seminar: Exercises in Style. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Raymond Queneau, in his book Exercises in Style, demonstrated that a single story, however unassuming, could be told at least ninety-nine different ways. Even though the content never changed, the mood always did: aggressive, mild, indifferent, lyrical, sensitive, technical, indirect, deceitful. If, as fiction writers, one of our pursuits is to stylize various forms of information, and to call the result a story or novel, it is also tempting, and easy, to adopt trends of style without realizing it, and to possibly presume we operate outside of stylistic restrictions and conventions. Some styles become so commonplace that they no longer seem stylistic. V.S. Naipaul remarked in an interview that he was opposed to style, yet we can't exactly summarize his work based on its content. His manner of telling is sophisticated, subtle, shrewdly indirect, and elegant. He is, in short, a stylist. His brilliance might be to presume that this is the only way to tell a story, and to consider all other ways styles. This course for writers will look at a wide range of prose styles, from conspicuous to subtle ones. We will not only read examples of obviously stylistic prose, but consider as well how the reigning prose norms are themselves stylistic bulwarks, entrenched in the culture for various reasons that might interest us. One project we will undertake, in order to deepen our understanding and approach to style, will be to restylize certain of the passages we read. These short fiction exercises will supplement our weekly readings and will allow us to practice rhetorical tactics, to assess our own deep stylistic instincts, and to possibly dilate the range of locutions available to us as we work.

Spring 2017: WRIT UN3111
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3111 001/71840 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
522c Kent Hall
Ann DeWitt 3 14/15

WRIT W3112 Fiction Seminar: The First Person. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Today, in the age of memoir, we don't need to apologize for speaking in the first person, but we still need to find a way to make a first person, fictional narrative forceful and focused.  The logic is different, the danger the same: we must find a form that will shape an "I" account and render it rhetorically compelling, giving it the substance and complexity of literary art.  In this seminar, we will begin by reading critical background about the early uses of first-person in fiction.  We will study how these functioned in the societies they commented on, and chart the changing use of first person in western literature from the eighteenth century to today.  Through reading contemporary novels, stories and novellas, we will analyze first person in its various guises: the "I" as witness (reliable or not), as elegist, outsider, interpreter, diarist, apologist, and portraitist.  Towards the end of the semester we will study more unusual forms: first-person plural, first-person omniscient, first-person rotating. We will supplement our reading with craft-oriented observations by master-writers.  Students will complete four to five fiction pieces of their own in which they will implement specific approaches to first-person.  At least two of these will be complete stories; others may be the beginning of a novel or novella or floating scenes.  Students will conference several times with the instructor to discuss their work.

WRIT W3113 Fiction Seminar: Voices from the Edge. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

What does it mean to be marginalized? Does it simply mean that white folks or men or heterosexuals or Americans don't listen to you very much? This is a reductive way of thinking that limits both minorities and majorities. In this seminar we'll read work that challenges our received notions about "the edge" and who's in it. We'll read with an eye toward issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality but we'll also think about marginalization in terms of genre, geography, and even personal politics. Our goal won't be to categorize and quantify hardships, but to appreciate some great--though overlooked--writing. And, finally, to try and understand how these talented artists wrote well. During the semester students will write short fiction inspired by the work they read and the craft issues discussed in class.

WRIT UN3114 Fiction Seminar: Eccentrics & Outsiders. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Some of the greatest works of fiction are narrated by characters who have become unhinged from the norms of society. They may stand apart from the mainstream because of willful eccentricity, madness, even social disgrace, but in each case their alienation provides them with a unique perspective, one that allows the reader to see the world they describe without the dulling lens of convention. We will explore what authors might gain by narrating their works from an "outsider" viewpoint, and we will study how the peculiar form and structure of these books reflects the modernist impulse in literature. This is a seminar designed for fiction writers, so we will spend time talking about not only the artistic merits of these books, but also about how the authors, who include Dostoevsky, Knut Hamsun, Jean Rhys, Denis Johnson, Joy Williams, Samuel Beckett and Amos Tutuola, achieve their specific effects. Over the course of the semester, we will use these texts as a springboard for writing original fiction.

Spring 2017: WRIT UN3114
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3114 001/19282 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
607 Hamilton Hall
John McCormack 3 11/15

WRIT W3115 Fiction Seminar: Make It Strange. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Making the familiar strange, making the strange familiar: these are among the most dexterous, variously re-imagined, catholically deployed, and evergreen of literary techniques. From Roman Jakobson and the Russian Formalists, to postmodern appropriations of pop culture references, techniques of defamiliarization and the construction of the uncanny have helped literature succeed in altering the vision of habit, habit being that which Proust so aptly describes as a second nature which prevents us from knowing the first. In this course, we will examine precisely how writers have negotiated and presented the alien and the domestic, the extraordinary and the ordinary. Looking at texts that both intentionally and unintentionally unsettle the reader, the class will pay special attention to the pragmatics of writerly choices made at the levels of vocabulary, sentence structure, narrative structure, perspective, subject matter, and presentations of time. Students will have four creative and interrelated writing assignments, each one modeling techniques discussed in the preceding weeks.

WRIT W3116 Fiction Seminar: Story Collection As Art Form. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

How do story collections happen?  Are they just anthologies of the best (or the only) stories a writer has produced in a given time period?  How do you decide what goes in it, and how do you organize it, and how many do you need?  In this class we're going to read a bunch of short story collections, in a variety of genres and modes.  Rigorous literary, aesthetic, and critical analysis of individual stories will here be linked to macro-level questions such as: What makes a "linked collection" different from a novel?  What are some of the ways that a "linked" collection forges its links-- character, theme, place, narrative strategy, mood, etc.?  How does a writer handle her recurring themes without falling into repetition?  How does the story collection compare with (or relate to) self-anthologizing forms in other disciplines: the poetry collection, the record album, the solo exhibition? Books include: The Piazza Tales by Herman Melville; Red Cavalry by Isaac Babel (Peter Constantine trans.); Super Flat Times by Matthew Derby; Normal People Don't Live Like This by Dylan Landis; The Train to Lo Wu by Jess Row; Don't Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine; Birds of America by Lorrie Moore; The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald; Criers and Kibbitzers, Kibbitzers and Criers by Stanley Elkin; The Actual Adventures of michael Missing by Michael Hickins; and A Personal Anthology by Jorge Luis Borges.

WRIT W3117 Fiction Seminar: The Here & Now. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

In this course, we will read a wide variety of short fiction that concerns itself with the clarification and magnification of particular moments of being.  An emphasis will be placed on how these writers notice things that others might overlook-- the small, the peculiar, the unexpected-- and then how they transform these seemingly modest things with the force of their attention.  Our goal will be to proceed through these stories at the level of the sentence.  Why this quiet pulling back?  Much of our discussion will center on why a specific (and at times mysterious-seeming) choice has abeen made by an author.  But we will also from time to time broaden our focus to encompass larger philosophical concerns that are triggered by these questions of craft. We will talk about the science of attention, false and true lyricism, "the discipline of rightness" (as Wallace Stevens once described it) and why it is that feeling so often precedes form.  We will not spend very much time exploring the thematic concerns of these stories.  Nor will we speak in great detail about whether we find contained within them sympathetic or unsympathetic characters.  Instead, the aim of this class will be to analyze the formal elements of fiction with an eye towards refining our own prose styles and towards saying more clearly how it happened that a given text did or did not move us.

WRIT W3118 Fiction Seminar: Voices & Visions of Childhood. 3 points.

This course focuses on literature written for adults, NOT children's books or young-adult literature.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Flannery O'Connor famously said, "Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days."  A child's or youth's journey-- whether through ordinary, universal rites of passage, or through extraordinary adventure or trauma-- compels an adult reader (and writer) to (re)inhabit the world as both naif and nature's savant.  Through the knowing/unknowing eye of the child or adolescent, the writer can explore adult topics prismatically and poignantly -- "from the bottom up" -- via humor, terror, innocence, wonder, or all of the above.    In this course, we will read both long and short form examples of childhood and youth stories, examining in particular the relationships between narrator and character, character and world (setting), character and language and narrator and reader (i.e. "reliability" of narrator).  Students will write two papers.  Short scene-based writing assignments will challenge student writers to both mine their own memories for material and imagine voices/experiences far from their own.

WRIT UN3123 An Earnest Look At Irony. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

In this seminar, we will examine works by several accomplished writers of fiction, and a few crackerjack poets, in order to determine what, precisely, we mean when we talk about irony on the page and what, precisely, we mean when we talk about earnestness. How are these very different effects (and affects) achieved? What are their benefits to the student author? What pitfalls, perceived or otherwise, attend the allure of each? What is the relationship of humor to earnestness, and of seriousness to irony? Is the absence of irony really the same thing as earnestness? Does the absence of earnestness somehow necessitate irony? With an eye toward technique, we will attempt to answer these and further questions by time spent among the words of those who fall along, though often refuse to stay put on, the earnest-ironic continuum. Students will be expected to write three stories or essays throughout the semester, exploring for themselves this treacherous but eminently skiable slope. With readings from Robert Frost, Stevie Smith, Charles Baudelaire, Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), James Joyce, Raymond Carver, James Baldwin, Vladimir Nabokov, Joan Didion, Donald Barthelme, George Saunders, Virginia Woolf, Zadie Smith, Gertrude Stein, Jamaica Kincaid, Jame Agee, Isak Dinsen, David Foster Wallace, Clarice Lispector, and Paul West.

Fall 2017: WRIT UN3123
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3123 001/63012 M 4:10pm - 6:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Ben Metcalf 3 15/15

WRIT UN3124 The Competitive Body: Literary Portrayals of Sports and Athleticism. 3 points.


Fee: Course Fee - 15.00

Competitive sport dominates much of modern American life, yet it has been largely neglected as a subject for literature. Roland Barthes suggests that there may be a fundamental incompatibility between athletes and intellectuals, while sports journalist Robert Lipsyte has spent a career elaborating upon his popular taxonomy of “jocks” and “pukes.” Lingering notions of Cartesian dualism undoubtedly contribute to this divide, as well as increasing skepticism towards the binary win-lose logic of sport. Art’s tendency to complicate rather than simplify, to intimate rather than prescribe, seems at odds with the easy trajectory that sport provides. Mirroring the structure of competitive contests, all stories necessarily end in victory or defeat.


The radical feminist writer Kathy Acker frames the struggle to write about sport somewhat differently. In “Against Ordinary Language,” her essay on bodybuilding, Acker wonders whether the split is not between camps of people, but rather between languages. How do we articulate a language that is speechless? How do we “read” and “write” the figures that the body makes through space? How do we derive meaning from an activity that is, etymologically-speaking, useless, frivolous, and inconsequential?


This course will be preoccupied with the above questions. The literary texts we will read and discuss are essentially texts of translation that bring the language of the body onto the page. We will read works of literary fiction as well as critical essays and sports histories. Taken together, these texts will illuminate different ways to “read” sport—as portrait, as metaphor, as metonym. We will also learn how to contextualize sport within the larger political, economic, and social systems in which we are all players. 

Fall 2017: WRIT UN3124
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3124 001/84280 M 4:10pm - 6:00pm
308a Lewisohn Hall
Anelise Chen 3 11/15

WRIT UN3200 Advanced Nonfiction Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Advanced Nonfiction Workshop is for students with significant narrative and/or critical experience. Students will produce original literary nonfiction for the workshop, with an added focus on developing a distinctive voice and approach.

Fall 2017: WRIT UN3200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3200 001/14326 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
963 Ext Schermerhorn Hall
Katie Zambreno 3 15/15

WRIT UN3201 Advanced Poetry Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

This poetry workshop is reserved for accomplished poetry writers and maintains the highest level of creative and critical expectations. Students will be encouraged to develop their strengths and to cultivate a distinctive poetic vision and voice but must also demonstrate a willingness to broaden their range and experiment with new forms and notions of the poem. A portfolio of poetry will be written and revised with the critical input of the instructor and the workshop.

Spring 2017: WRIT UN3201
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3201 001/29716 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
701 Dodge Building
Alex Abramovich 3 8/12

WRIT UN3210 Nonfiction Seminar: The Modern Arts Writer. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

We will examine the lineaments of critical writing. A critic blends the subjective and objective in complex ways. A critic must know the history of an artwork, its past, while placing it on the contemporary landscape and contemplating its future. A single essay will analyze, argue, describe, reflect, and interpret. And, since examining a work of art also means examining oneself, the task includes a willingness to probe one's own assumptions. The best critics are engaged in a conversation -- a dialogue, a debate -- with changing standards of taste, with their audience, with their own convictions and emotions. The best criticism is part of a larger cultural conversation. It spurs readers to ask questions rather than accept answers about art and society. We will read essays that consider six art forms: literature; film; music (classical, jazz and popular); theatre and performance; visual art; and dance. At the term's end, students will consider essays that examine cultural boundaries and divisions: the negotiations between popular and high art; the aesthetic of cruelty; the post-modern blurring of and between artist, critic and fan. The reading list will include such writers as Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Elizabeth Hardwick (literature); James Agee, Manny Farber, Zadie Smith (film); G.B. Shaw, Willa Cather, Ralph Ellison, Lester Bangs, Ellen Willis (music); Eric Bentley, Mary McCarthy, C.L.R. James (theatre); Leo Steinberg, Frank O'Hara, Ada Louise Huxtable, Maggie Nelson (visual art); Edwin Denby, Arlene Croce, Elizabeth Kendall, Mindy Aloff (dance); Susan Sontag, Anthony Heilbut, John Jeremiah Sullivan (cultural criticism).

Fall 2017: WRIT UN3210
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3210 001/12742 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Margo Jefferson 3 13/15

WRIT W3211 Nonfiction Seminar: The Lyric Essay. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT needed.

While nonfiction is perhaps known for its allegiance to facts and logic in the stalwart essay form, the genre conducts its own experiments, often grouped under the term "lyric essays."  Lyric essays are sometimes fragmentary, suggestive, meditative, inconclusive; they may glance only sidelong at their subject, employ the compression of poetry, and perform magic tricks in which stories slip down blind alleys, discursive arguments dissolve into ellipses, and narrators disappear altogether.  Lyric essayists blend a passion for the actual with innovative forms, listening deeply to the demands of each new subject.  In this course, students will map the terrain of the lyric essay, work in which writers revise nonfiction traditions such as: coherent narrative or rhetorical arcs; an identifiable, transparent, or stable narrator; and the familiar categories of memoir, personal essay, travel writing, and argument.  Students will read work that challenges these familiar contours, including selections from Halls of Fame by John D'Agata, Don't Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine, Plainwater by Anne Carson, Letters to Wendy by Joe Wenderoth, The Body and One Love Affair by Jenny Boully, Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje, Neck Deep and Other Predicaments by Ander Monson.  They can expect to read essays selected from The Next American Essay edited by John D'Agata and In Short: A Collection of Brief Creative Nonfiction edited by Judith Kitchen and Mary Paumier Jones, as well as essays by Paul Metcalf, David Foster Wallace, Sherman Alexie, Michael Martone, and Sei Shonagon.  The course will be conducted seminar style, with close reading, lecture, and classroom discussion.  The students will be expected to prepare a written study and comments for class on a particular book/author/issue.  They will also complete writing exercises and their own lyric essay(s), one of which we will discuss as a class.  Their final project will be a collection of their creative work accompanied by an essay discussing their choices.

WRIT W3212 Nonfiction Seminar: Literature Without Writing. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites required. Department approval NOT required.

The investigative dialogue is among the oldest forms of literature, and it remains one of the most egalitarian and relevant to life.  It's simple - comment and response, question and answer - and can be produced by artists, scientists, lunatics, athletes, criminals, and any other human being, from Plato to Oprah Winfrey.  The interview is a kind of performative literature, documenting a time, place, mood, and an extemporaneous exchange.  Transcription transforms the off-the-cuff spoken word into permanent, written text, from ear to page, an art form of capturing rather than imagining.  Conversational language is also essential to the art of fiction, showing through telling, or explaining instead of organizing our life into this-then-that narratives.  Modernism was the age of the interior monologue but the internal debate might be a form more reflective of the 21st century mind.  This course will include readings of psychoanalytic sessions, legal court transcripts, celebrity chats, Zen koan talks, philosophical dialogues, podcasts, television talk shows, and fictional interviews.  Students will conduct real interviews and write fictional ones.  They will transcribe, listen, and hear literature in the artless, everyday discussion. 

WRIT UN3213 Nonfiction Seminar: The Literary Reporter. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites required. Department approval NOT required.

The literary reporter is a changeable character.  When she's conducting immersion journalism, she lives with her sources, tries to blend with them.  Long-form narrative reporting requires her to ask difficult questions, born from exhaustive research and critical observation.  The memoirist reports from the prism of her own experience, casting herself as a character, making meaning of interviews through the fault lines of memory.  The biographer is a ventriloquist, often embodying the purpose or quest of another person, and pulling voices and stories from hints and scraps.  In this seminar, students will explore the various kinds of literary reporting inherent to various nonfiction literary forms, unearthing the strategies writers can use to elicit powerful interviews, background stories and ultimately, what it means to author another person's "truth," and discuss the delicate terrains of race, gender and political misunderstanding, interrogating our own preconceptions. Readings will include Peter Hessler, Suketu Mehta, Richard Rodriguez, Joan Didion, Janet Malcolm, and Ted Conover, as well as Julia Kristeva and Michel Foucault, and we'll read interviews with authors about their craft, to learn from their direct experience.  Students will have the opportunity to do some reporting on their own, and will write two short papers. 

Fall 2017: WRIT UN3213
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3213 001/24399 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
501 International Affairs Bldg
Meehan Crist 3 13/15

WRIT UN3214 Hybrid Nonfiction Forms. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Creative nonfiction is a frustratingly vague term. How do we give it real literary meaning; examine its compositional aims and techniques, its achievements and especially its aspirations? This course will focus on works that we might call visionary - works that combine art forms, genres and styles in striking ways. Works in which image and text combine to create a third interactive language for the reader. Works still termed "fiction" "history" or "journalism" that join fact and fiction to interrogate their uses and implications. Certain memoirs that are deliberately anti-autobiographical, turning from personal narrative to the sounds, sight, impressions and ideas of the writer's milieu. Certain essays that join personal reflection to arts and cultural criticism, drawing on research and imagination, the vernacular and the formal, even prose and poetry. The assemblage or collage that, created from notebook entries, lists, quotations, footnotes and indexes achieves its coherence through fragments and associations, found and original texts.

Spring 2017: WRIT UN3214
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3214 001/62847 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Margo Jefferson 3 12/15

WRIT UN3216 Nonfiction Seminar: Truths & Facts. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

As writers of literary nonfiction, we seek to articulate the truth about people, personal experiences, and events.  But how do those pesky facts figure in?  Demarcating the boundaries of reasonable artistic license is an ongoing debate among writers, editors, fact-checkers, and audiences.  Can changing chronologies and identifying details help the writer arrive at a deeper truth about her subject?  Or are the facts intractable?  Where do we draw the line between fabrication and artistry?  Is there any merit to what Werner Herzog deems "the ecstatic truth?"  Do different rules apply for writing memoir versus writing reported essays and articles?  How can we work responsibly with quotes while making dialogue readable?  Just how experimental can we be while earning the mantle of nonfiction?  In this class we will read works that take different approaches at mining toward the truth and unpack various distinct points of view on the debate.  Our classes will consist mainly of discussion, with occasional in-class writing exercises and presentations.  Students will write reflection papers on the asigned texts throughout the course and compose their own code of nonfiction ethics by the term's end, and examine their own work under this rubric.

WRIT W3217 Nonfiction Seminar: Science And Sensibility. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Writing about the natural world is one of the world's oldest literary traditions and the site of some of today's most daring literary experiments.  Known loosely as "science writing" this tradition can be traced through texts in myriad and overlapping genres, including poetry, explorer's notebooks, essays, memoirs, art books, and science journalism.  Taken together, these divers texts reveal a rich literary tradition in which the writer's sensibility and worldview are paramount to an investigation of the known and unknown.  In this course, we will consider a wide range of texts in order to map this tradition.  We will question what it means to use science as metaphor, explore how to write about science with rigor and commitment to scientific truth, and interrogate the fiction of objectivity. 

WRIT UN3218 Gonzo Journalism. 3 points.

"Gonzo" journalism, that oft-maligned offshoot of the New Journalism, is more than a put-on, a getup, a late-adolescent Halloween costume.  it is the aggressively subjective, wildly literary, picaresque, iconoclastic, funny-as-hell rejoinder to traditional nonfiction and its false gods, detachment and neutrality.........


This class aims to rejigger your conception as to what a reporter/observer is, and to whom or what your fealty should be pledged.....

WRIT UN3290 First Novels: How They Work. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

First Novels exist as a distinct category, in part, because all novelists must write one.  They may never write a second, but in order to be called novelists there always has to be a first.  As a result the first novel is a very special animal.  Every kind of writer must attempt one and despite vast differences in genre or style there are often many similarities between them.  In fact, one of the surest similarities are the flaws in each book.  Before each writer becomes an expert at his or her method, his or her style, there is room for experimentation and unsuccessful attempts. These "failures" are often much more illuminating for students than the successes of later books.  First novels contain the energy of youth, but often lack the precision that comes with maturity.  By examining a series of first novels students will learn to identify common craft elements of first novels and how to employ them to great effect in their own writing.

WRIT W3290 Fiction Seminar First Novels: How They Work. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

First Novels exist as a distinct category, in part, because all novelists must write one.  They may never write a second, but in order to be called novelists there always has to be a first.  As a result the first novel is a very special animal.  Every kind of writer must attempt one and despite vast differences in genre or style there are often many similarities between them.  In fact, one of the surest similarities are the flaws in each book.  Before each writer becomes an expert at his or her method, his or her style, there is room for experimentation and unsuccessful attempts. These "failures" are often much more illuminating for students than the successes of later books.  First novels contain the energy of youth, but often lack the precision that comes with maturity.  By examining a series of first novels students will learn to identify common craft elements of first novels and how to employ them to great effect in their own writing.

WRIT W3292 Fiction Seminar What Happened Was: Approaches to Plot & Dramatic Structure. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Typically the word "plot" produces either anxiety in writers or a sense of overconfidence.  Must a story or a novel have one?  When is a plot a plot and not just a series of random events, connected by too much willfulness on the part of the author?  How much should coincidence come to bear when designing a plot?  Should an overreliance on plot deem a work to be classified as "genre writing" rather than a work of literature?  And how, within this context, does one understand F. Scott Fitzgerald's famous claim that "character is plot, plot is character"?  This class will attempt to answer these questions by examining the mechanics of plot, and how a machine can become an art form.  The syllabus will include a variety of fictional works ranging from the murder mystery to the so-called plotless novel.  In-class discussions and writing assignments will focus on the strategies these different novels and stories deploy as a way to understand structure, sustain dramatic irony, and make use of dramatic tension.  Readings may also include essays on plot by writers such as E.M. Forster, Elizabeth Bowen, Milan Kundera, and Charles Baxter, among others.

WRIT W3294 Fiction Seminar: The Craft Of Writing Dialogue. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Departmental approval NOT required.

Whether texting, chatting, conversing, speechifying, recounting, confiding, gossiping, tweeting, praying, interviewing, exhorting, pitching, scheming, lecturing, nagging or begging, humans love to talk, and readers love narratives that contain dialogue.  Good dialogue makes characters and scenes feel real and alive.  Great dialogue reveals characters' fears, desires and quirks, forwards the narrative's plot and dramatic tension, and often contains subtext.  In this course, we'll read different kinds of novels and stories -- from noir to horror to sci-fi to realistice drama to comic romp -- that implement various types of dialogue effectively, and we'll study how to do it.  We'll read essays by masters that explain techniques for writing great dialogue, and we'll practice writing different styles of dialogue ourselves.  Coursework will consist of reading, in-class exercises, and two short creative assignments.

WRIT W3296 Fiction Seminar: How To Build A Person. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Departmental approval NOT required.

Character is something that good fiction supposedly cannot do without.  But what is a character, and what constitutes a supposedly good or believable one?  Should characters be like people we know, and if so, how exactly do we create written versions of people?  This class will examine characters in all sorts of writing, historical and contemporary, with an eye toward understanding just how characters are created in fiction, and how they come to seem real to us.  We'll read stories and novels; we may also look at essays and biographical writing to analyze where the traces of personhood reside.  We'll also explore the way in which these same techniques of writing allow us to personify entities that lack traditional personhood, such as animals, computers, and other nonhuman characters.  Does personhood precede narrative, or is it something we bestow on others by allowing them to tell their story or by telling a story of our own creation on their behalf?  Weekly critical and creative exercises will intersect with and expand on the readings and discussions. 

WRIT UN3300 Advanced Poetry Workshop. 3 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

This poetry workshop is reserved for accomplished poetry writers and maintains the highest level of creative and critical expectations. Students will be encouraged to develop their strengths and to cultivate a distinctive poetic vision and voice but must also demonstrate a willingness to broaden their range and experiment with new forms and notions of the poem. A portfolio of poetry will be written and revised with the critical input of the instructor and the workshop.

Fall 2017: WRIT UN3300
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3300 001/27002 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
511 Kent Hall
David Martinez 3 13/15

WRIT UN3301 Senior Poetry Workshop. 4 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Seniors who are majors in creative writing are given priority for this course. Enrollment is limited, and is by permission of the professor. The senior workshop offers students the opportunity to work exclusively with classmates who are at the same high level of accomplishment in the major. Students in the senior workshops will produce and revise a new and substantial body of work. In-class critiques and conferences with the professor will be tailored to needs of each student.

Spring 2017: WRIT UN3301
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3301 001/73755 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Dorothea Lasky 4 12/12

WRIT W3302 Fiction Seminar: Approaches to the Short Story. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The modern short story has gone through many transformations, and the innovations of its practitioners have often pointed the way for prose fiction as a whole. The short story has been seized upon and refreshed by diverse cultures and aesthetic affiliations, so that perhaps the only stable definition of the form remains the famous one advanced by Poe, one of its early masters, as a work of fiction that can be read in one sitting. Still, common elements of the form have emerged over the last century and this course will study them, including Point of View, Plot, Character, Setting, and Theme. John Hawkes once famously called these last four elements the "enemies of the novel," and many short story writers have seen them as hindrances as well. Hawkes later recanted, though some writers would still agree with his earlier assessment, and this course will examine the successful strategies of great writers across the spectrum of short story practice, from traditional approaches to more radical solutions, keeping in mind how one period's revolution - Hemingway, for example - becomes a later era's mainstream or "common-sense" storytelling mode. By reading the work of major writers from a writer's perspective, we will examine the myriad techniques employed for what is finally a common goal: to make readers feel. Short writing exercises will help us explore the exhilarating subtleties of these elements and how the effects created by their manipulation or even outright absence power our most compelling fictions.

WRIT W3303 Fiction Seminar: The Long and Short of It. 3 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The critic Randall Jarrell famously defined the novel as "a prose work of a certain length that has something wrong with it." In this class we will pay close attention to how writers determine the appropriate "certain length" for their narratives by focusing on another notoriously difficult-to-define form, the novella. Simply but unhelpfully, we might say that a novella is longer than a short story and shorter than a novel. But how does length affect the way a writer handles (or dispenses with) such essentials as plotting, characterization, and sense of place? What strategies are used to compress or expand time in novellas or long stories that take place in a single day, over the course of several days, or across many decades? What kind of statement can be made, and what kind of linguistic experience can be had in this intermediate length? We will start the semester by reading "flash fiction" together--stories of no more than a few hundred words--by writers such as Lydia Davis, Raymond Carver, and David Foster Wallace. Then we will read a novella a week, peering behind the curtain to see how they are put together. Authors may include Fyodor Dostoevsky, Arthur Conan Doyle, Herman Melville, James Joyce, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Yasunari Kawabata, Albert Camus, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Paula Fox, Alice Munro, Roberto Bolao, Martin Amis, and George Saunders. Students will write two creative-writing assignments and give one in-class presentation.

WRIT W3304 Fiction Seminar: Exercises in Style. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Raymond Queneau, in his book Exercises in Style, demonstrated that a single story, however unassuming, could be told at least ninety-nine different ways. Even though the content never changed, the mood always did: aggressive, mild, indifferent, lyrical, sensitive, technical, indirect, deceitful. If, as fiction writers, one of our pursuits is to stylize various forms of information, and to call the result a story or novel, it is also tempting, and easy, to adopt trends of style without realizing it, and to possibly presume we operate outside of stylistic restrictions and conventions. Some styles become so commonplace that they no longer seem stylistic. V.S. Naipaul remarked in an interview that he was opposed to style, yet we can't exactly summarize his work based on its content. His manner of telling is sophisticated, subtle, shrewdly indirect, and elegant. He is, in short, a stylist. His brilliance might be to presume that this is the only way to tell a story, and to consider all other ways styles. This course for writers will look at a wide range of prose styles, from conspicuous to subtle ones. We will not only read examples of obviously stylistic prose, but consider as well how the reigning prose norms are themselves stylistic bulwarks, entrenched in the culture for various reasons that might interest us. One project we will undertake, in order to deepen our understanding and approach to style, will be to restylize certain of the passages we read. These short fiction exercises will supplement our weekly readings and will allow us to practice rhetorical tactics, to assess our own deep stylistic instincts, and to possibly dilate the range of locutions available to us as we work.

WRIT W3305 Fiction Seminar: The First Person. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Today, in the age of memoir, we don't need to apologize for speaking in the first person, but we still need to find a way to make a first person, fictional narrative forceful and focused.  The logic is different, the danger the same: we must find a form that will shape an "I" account and render it rhetorically compelling, giving it the substance and complexity of literary art.  In this seminar, we will begin by reading critical background about the early uses of first-person in fiction.  We will study how these functioned in the societies they commented on, and chart the changing use of first person in western literature from the eighteenth century to today.  Through reading contemporary novels, stories and novellas, we will analyze first person in its various guises: the "I" as witness (reliable or not), as elegist, outsider, interpreter, diarist, apologist, and portraitist.  Towards the end of the semester we will study more unusual forms: first-person plural, first-person omniscient, first-person rotating. We will supplement our reading with craft-oriented observations by master-writers.  Students will complete four to five fiction pieces of their own in which they will implement specific approaches to first-person.  At least two of these will be complete stories; others may be the beginning of a novel or novella or floating scenes.  Students will conference several times with the instructor to discuss their work.

WRIT W3306 Fiction Seminar: Voices from the Edge. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

What does it mean to be marginalized? Does it simply mean that white folks or men or heterosexuals or Americans don't listen to you very much? This is a reductive way of thinking that limits both minorities and majorities. In this seminar we'll read work that challenges our received notions about "the edge" and who's in it. We'll read with an eye toward issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality but we'll also think about marginalization in terms of genre, geography, and even personal politics. Our goal won't be to categorize and quantify hardships, but to appreciate some great--though overlooked--writing. And, finally, to try and understand how these talented artists wrote well. During the semester students will write short fiction inspired by the work they read and the craft issues discussed in class.

WRIT W3307 Fiction Seminar: Eccentrics & Outsiders. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Some of the greatest works of fiction are narrated by characters who have become unhinged from the norms of society. They may stand apart from the mainstream because of willful eccentricity, madness, even social disgrace, but in each case their alienation provides them with a unique perspective, one that allows the reader to see the world they describe without the dulling lens of convention. We will explore what authors might gain by narrating their works from an "outsider" viewpoint, and we will study how the peculiar form and structure of these books reflects the modernist impulse in literature. This is a seminar designed for fiction writers, so we will spend time talking about not only the artistic merits of these books, but also about how the authors, who include Dostoevsky, Knut Hamsun, Jean Rhys, Denis Johnson, Joy Williams, Samuel Beckett and Amos Tutuola, achieve their specific effects. Over the course of the semester, we will use these texts as a springboard for writing original fiction.

WRIT W3308 Cross Genre Seminar: Short Prose Forms. 3 points.

Note: This seminar has a workshop component.

Prerequisites: No Prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

"Flash fiction," "micro-naratives" and the "short-short" have become exciting areas of exploration for contemporary writers.  This course will examine how these literary fragments have captured the imagination of writers internationally and at home.  The larger question the class seeks to answer, both on a collective and individual level, is: How can we craft a working definition of those elements endemic to "short prose" as a genre?  Does the form exceed classification?  What aspects of both crafts -- prose and poetry -- does this genre inhabit, expand upon, reinvent, reject, subvert? Short Prose Forms incorporates aspects of both literary seminar and the creative workshop.  Class-time will be devoted alternatingly to examinations of published pieces and modified discussions of student work.  Our reading chart the course from the genre's emergence, examining the prose poem in 19th-century France through the works of Mallarme, Baudelaire, Max Jacob and Rimbaud.  We'll examine aspects of poetry -- the attention to the lyrical, the use of compression, musicality, sonic resonances and wit -- and attempt to understand how these writers took, as Russell Edson describes, "experience [and] made it into an artifact with the logic of a dream."  The class will conclude with a portfolio at the end of the term, in which students will submit a compendium of final drafts of three of four short prose pieces, samples of several exercises, selescted responses to readings, and a short personal manifesto on the "short prose form.

WRIT W3312 Poetry Seminar: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

This course is designed to address the particular frustrations surrounding revision.  We will excavate our abandoned work-- subjecting it to maneuvers ranging from the light in touch to the radical; visiting techniques appropriate for the isolation chamber, as well as the collaborative.  And we will examine how poets throughout the ages have approached revision -- including Lowell's changing of words into their opposites; Auden's revisions of his published work from the standpoint of maturity; Plath's 'next poem as revision' technique.  The idea of the class borrows from the world's current trash predicament:  how to cut our waste; re-use creatively what we have already produced; make something new and useful of our junk.

WRIT UN3313 Poetry Seminar: The Crisis of the I. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

"Things fall Apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world." So wrote Yeats in 1919, in the shadow of the "Great" War. As the individual mind found less and less recourse to "traditional" systems of belief and natrratives of meaning, poetry in the twentieth century began to bear witness to a fracturing of the self, and this "anarchy" was reflected in both the content and the forms of "modern" poems. Through a close analysis of poems by a variety of authors, this course will investigate aesthetic strategies for representing such a fragmentation in perception and cognition, as well as the urgency of a moral dialectic in poems written in the wake of large-scale cultural traumas. We will also look at various aesthetic strategies for "recovering" from a disintegration of self, including deep-image poetics, repetition and incantation, new formalism, and narrative tensions in the lyric mode.

WRIT UN3315 Poetry Seminar: Poetic Meter And Form. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

This course will investigate the uses of rhythmic order and disorder in English-language poetry, with a particular emphasis on 'formal' elements in 'free' verse. Through a close analysis of poems, we'll examine the possibilities of qualitative meter, and students will write original creative work within (and in response to) various formal traditions. Analytical texts and poetic manifestos will accompany our reading of exemplary poems. Each week, we'll study interesting examples of metrical writing, and I'll ask you to write in reponse to those examples. Our topics will include stress meter, syllable-stress meter, double and triple meter, rising and falling rhythms, promotion, demotion, inversion, elision, and foot scansion. Our study will include a greate range of pre-modern and modern writers, from Keats to W.D. Snodgrass, Shakespeare to Denise Levertov, Blake to James Dickey, Whitman to Louise Gluck etc. As writers, we'll always be thinking about how the formal choices of a poem are appropriate or inappropriate for the poem's content. We'll also read prose by poets describing their metrical craft.

Fall 2017: WRIT UN3315
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3315 001/23717 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
308a Lewisohn Hall
Joseph Fasano 3 13/15

WRIT UN3316 West to East: The San Francisco Renaissance and the New York School in American Poetry. 3 points.

This course examines two central movements in post World War II American poetry, The San Francisco Renaissance and The New York School, and uncovers their aesthetic impacts on language and cultural production, as well as the relationship to "the city" as a defining agent in the poetic imagination.......

WRIT UN3317 Trauma and Its Aftermath: Poetry, Memory, Hybridity. 3 points.


Fee: Course Fee - 15.00

It is 2017. The history of literature has, in many ways, become inseparable from the history of trauma, a statement that only seems to be growing more true with the passage of time. How can the lyric turn outward to become a relevant and necessary reflection of contemporary times, especially given the current political climate and the way the internet's lightning pace has revolutionized how we receive and process (mis)information. How does William Carlos William's adage that “It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men [sic] die miserably every day for lack of what is found there” hold up in today's world? What is poetry's role and responsibility in a society where it's become difficult or impossible to even get the news from the news?




This class will study poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid texts that stem from, speak to, and call out all types of historical and personal trauma, from the beginning of the last century to current day.  What are the different ways writers have used form, or a lack of it, to convey traumatic experience? How does a writer both remember and manipulate memory in the service of recreating trauma for the reader. Why do so many hybrid texts seem to take trauma as their core subject? 

Fall 2017: WRIT UN3317
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3317 001/92096 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
405 Kent Hall
Marni Ludwig 3 10/15

WRIT UN3318 Contemporary Women Poets: Origin and Inspiration. 3 points.

This seminar will trace the generative, procedural, and formal relationships between the contemporary female poets and their literary influences in order to steep students in both historical traditions and current innovations in the form.  Each week students will read a full-length collection written by a contemporary poet alongside a representative selection of poems penned by an influential writer chosen by that poet.  Students will begin to grasp the complex and varied traditions within contemporary poetry, to think critically about relationships between texts, and to locate themselves and their developing aesthetics within that literary framework.  What are the differences between inspiration and appropriation and how do we negotiate them in our own writing?  Id this distinction even relevant in today's era of hypertext, sampling, reusing and remixing?  How do we pay homage to our literary ancestors while simultaneously remaining formally inventive?  Who are the students' literary foremothers and patron saints and how do they sustain us throughout a lifetime of creative practice?

WRIT UN3323 Learning to See: Writing The Visual. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

It was through seriously meditating on the paintings and sculptures of Cezanne and Rodin that Rilke learned to see (as he phrased it) and radicalized his literary vision.  In this seminar, we will look seriously at the object, and think through the forms, processes, and lives of artists as models and inspiration for our own nonfiction pieces.  The writers we will be reading play with genre, style, form, and voice in innovative ways, like the art and artists they are writing to, occasionally using images in their texts or turning their own books and essays into art objects and playful experiments.  An indefinite list of these writers: W.G. Sebald, Claudia Rankine, Janet Malcolm, Douglas Martin, Roland Barthes, Hervé Guibert, Anne Carson, Sophie Calle, T. Fleischmann, Chris Kraus, Tisa Bryant, Bruce Hainley, Susan Sontag, Bhanu Kapil, Lisa Robertson, Ariana Reines, Wayne Koestenbaum, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, and others.  The class aims to stimulate and inspire your own practice through reading and seeing, critically and ecstatically.  You will write midterm and final critical responses, as well as submit creative texts every week that respond to the reading, culminating in a final literary work that will be an extension of one of your shorter imitative pieces.

WRIT W3323 Nonfiction Seminar: Learning to See: Writing The Visual. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

It was through seriously meditating on the paintings and sculptures of Cezanne and Rodin that Rilke learned to see (as he phrased it) and radicalized his literary vision.  In this seminar, we will look seriously at the object, and think through the forms, processes, and lives of artists as models and inspiration for our own nonfiction pieces.  The writers we will be reading play with genre, style, form, and voice in innovative ways, like the art and artists they are writing to, occasionally using images in their texts or turning their own books and essays into art objects and playful experiments.  An indefinite list of these writers: W.G. Sebald, Claudia Rankine, Janet Malcolm, Douglas Martin, Roland Barthes, Hervé Guibert, Anne Carson, Sophie Calle, T. Fleischmann, Chris Kraus, Tisa Bryant, Bruce Hainley, Susan Sontag, Bhanu Kapil, Lisa Robertson, Ariana Reines, Wayne Koestenbaum, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, and others.  The class aims to stimulate and inspire your own practice through reading and seeing, critically and ecstatically.  You will write midterm and final critical responses, as well as submit creative texts every week that respond to the reading, culminating in a final literary work that will be an extension of one of your shorter imitative pieces.

WRIT W3325 Nonfiction Seminar: Truths & Facts: Creative License In Nonfiction. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

As writers of literary nonfiction, we seek to articulate the truth about people, personal experiences, and events.  But how do those pesky facts figure in?  Demarcating the boundaries of reasonable artistic license is an ongoing debate among writers, editors, fact-checkers, and audiences.  Can changing chronologies and identifying details help the writer arrive at a deeper truth about her subject?  Or are the facts intractable?  Where do we draw the line between fabrication and artistry?  Is there any merit to what Werner Herzog deems "the ecstatic truth?"  Do different rules apply for writing memoir versus writing reported essays and articles?  How can we work responsibly with quotes while making dialogue readable?  Just how experimental can we be while earning the mantle of nonfiction?  In this class we will read works that take different approaches at mining toward the truth and unpack various distinct points of view on the debate.  Our classes will consist mainly of discussion, with occasional in-class writing exercises and presentations.  Students will write reflection papers on the asigned texts throughout the course and compose their own code of nonfiction ethics by the term's end, and examine their own work under this rubric.

WRIT W3327 Nonfiction Seminar: Science & Sensibility. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Writing about the natural world is one of the world's oldest literary traditions and the site of some of today's most daring literary experiments.  Known loosely as "science writing" this tradition can be traced through texts in myriad and overlapping genres, including poetry, explorer's notebook, essays, memoirs, art books, and science journalism.  Taken together, these diverse texts reveal a rich literary tradition in which the writer's sensibility and worldview are paramount to an investigation of the known and unknown.  In this course, we will consider a wide range of texts in order to map this tradition.  We will question what it means to use science as metaphor, explore how to write about science with rigor and commitment to scientific truth, and interrogate the fiction of objectivity.  Readings will include Lucretius, Erasmus Darwin, Thomas Browne, Freud, Claude Levi-Strauss, John McPhee, Susan Sontag, Eula Biss, Lauren Redness, Rachel Aviv, Lawrence Weschler, Tracy K. Smith, Kathryn Schulz, Ed Yong, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, and Elif Batuman.  Students will write two short papers and have the opportunity to do some science writing of their own.  

WRIT W3330 Nonfiction Seminar: Hybrid Nonfiction Forms. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Creative nonfiction is a frustratingly vague term. How do we give it real literary meaning; examine its compositional aims and techniques, its achievements and especially its aspirations? This course will focus on works that we might call visionary - works that combine art forms, genres and styles in striking ways. Works in which image and text combine to create a third interactive language for the reader. Works still termed "fiction" "history" or "journalism" that join fact and fiction to interrogate their uses and implications. Certain memoirs that are deliberately anti-autobiographical, turning from personal narrative to the sounds, sight, impressions and ideas of the writer's milieu. Certain essays that join personal reflection to arts and cultural criticism, drawing on research and imagination, the vernacular and the formal, even prose and poetry. The assemblage or collage that, created from notebook entries, lists, quotations, footnotes and indexes achieves its coherence through fragments and associations, found and original texts.

WRIT W3331 Nonfiction Seminar: The Modern Arts Writer. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

We will examine the lineaments of critical writing. A critic blends the subjective and objective in complex ways. A critic must know the history of an artwork, its past, while placing it on the contemporary landscape and contemplating its future. A single essay will analyze, argue, describe, reflect, and interpret. And, since examining a work of art also means examining oneself, the task includes a willingness to probe one's own assumptions. The best critics are engaged in a conversation -- a dialogue, a debate -- with changing standards of taste, with their audience, with their own convictions and emotions. The best criticism is part of a larger cultural conversation. It spurs readers to ask questions rather than accept answers about art and society. We will read essays that consider six art forms: literature; film; music (classical, jazz and popular); theatre and performance; visual art; and dance. At the term's end, students will consider essays that examine cultural boundaries and divisions: the negotiations between popular and high art; the aesthetic of cruelty; the post-modern blurring of and between artist, critic and fan. The reading list will include such writers as Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Elizabeth Hardwick (literature); James Agee, Manny Farber, Zadie Smith (film); G.B. Shaw, Willa Cather, Ralph Ellison, Lester Bangs, Ellen Willis (music); Eric Bentley, Mary McCarthy, C.L.R. James (theatre); Leo Steinberg, Frank O'Hara, Ada Louise Huxtable, Maggie Nelson (visual art); Edwin Denby, Arlene Croce, Elizabeth Kendall, Mindy Aloff (dance); Susan Sontag, Anthony Heilbut, John Jeremiah Sullivan (cultural criticism).

WRIT W3333 Nonfiction Seminar: Traditions in Nonfiction. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The seminar provides exposure to the varieties of nonfiction with readings in its principal genres: reportage, criticism and commentary, biography and history, and memoir and the personal essay.  A highly plastic medium, nonfiction allows authors to portray real events and experiences through narrative, analysis, polemic or any combination thereof.  Free to invent everything but the facts, great practitioners of nonfiction are faithful to reality while writing with a voice and a vision distinctively their own.  To show how nonfiction is conceived and constructed, class discussions will emphasize the relationship of content to form and style, techniques for creating plot and character under the factual constraints imposed by nonfiction, the defining characteristics of each author's voice, the author's subjectivity and presence, the role of imagination and emotion, the uses of humor, and the importance of speculation and attitude.  Written assignments will be opportunities to experiment in several nonfiction genres and styles.

WRIT W3335 Nonfiction Seminar: The Lyric Essay. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT needed.

While nonfiction is perhaps known for its allegiance to facts and logic in the stalwart essay form, the genre conducts its own experiments, often grouped under the term "lyric essays."  Lyric essays are sometimes fragmentary, suggestive, meditative, inconclusive; they may glance only sidelong at their subject, employ the compression of poetry, and perform magic tricks in which stories slip down blind alleys, discursive arguments dissolve into ellipses, and narrators disappear altogether.  Lyric essayists blend a passion for the actual with innovative forms, listening deeply to the demands of each new subject.  In this course, students will map the terrain of the lyric essay, work in which writers revise nonfiction traditions such as: coherent narrative or rhetorical arcs; an identifiable, transparent, or stable narrator; and the familiar categories of memoir, personal essay, travel writing, and argument.  Students will read work that challenges these familiar contours, including selections from Halls of Fame by John D'Agata, Don't Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine, Plainwater by Anne Carson, Letters to Wendy by Joe Wenderoth, The Body and One Love Affair by Jenny Boully, Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje, Neck Deep and Other Predicaments by Ander Monson.  They can expect to read essays selected from The Next American Essay edited by John D'Agata and In Short: A Collection of Brief Creative Nonfiction edited by Judith Kitchen and Mary Paumier Jones, as well as essays by Paul Metcalf, David Foster Wallace, Sherman Alexie, Michael Martone, and Sei Shonagon.  The course will be conducted seminar style, with close reading, lecture, and classroom discussion.  The students will be expected to prepare a written study and comments for class on a particular book/author/issue.  They will also complete writing exercises and their own lyric essay(s), one of which we will discuss as a class.  Their final project will be a collection of their creative work accompanied by an essay discussing their choices.

WRIT W3336 Translation Seminar. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Students do not need to demonstrate bilingual ability to take this course. Department approval NOT needed.
Corequisites: This course is open to undergraduate & graduate students.

This course will explore broad-ranging questions pertaining to the historical, cultural, and political significance of translation while analyzing the various challenges confronted by the art's foremost practitioners.  We will read and discuss texts by writers and theorists such as Benjamin, Derrida, Borges, Steiner, Dryden, Nabokov, Schleiermacher, Goethe, Spivak, Jakobson, and Venuti.  As readers and practitioners of translation, we will train our ears to detect the visibility of invisibility of the translator's craft; through short writing experiments, we will discover how to identify and capture the nuances that traverse literary styles, historical periods and cultures.  The course will culminate in a final project that may either be a critical analysis or an original translation accompanied by a translator's note of introduction.

WRIT W3340 Fiction Seminar: Make It Strange. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Making the familiar strange, making the strange familiar: these are among the most dexterous, variously re-imagined, catholically deployed, and evergreen of literary techniques. From Roman Jakobson and the Russian Formalists, to postmodern appropriations of pop culture references, techniques of defamiliarization and the construction of the uncanny have helped literature succeed in altering the vision of habit, habit being that which Proust so aptly describes as a second nature which prevents us from knowing the first. In this course, we will examine precisely how writers have negotiated and presented the alien and the domestic, the extraordinary and the ordinary. Looking at texts that both intentionally and unintentionally unsettle the reader, the class will pay special attention to the pragmatics of writerly choices made at the levels of vocabulary, sentence structure, narrative structure, perspective, subject matter, and presentations of time. Students will have four creative and interrelated writing assignments, each one modeling techniques discussed in the preceding weeks.

WRIT W3351 Poetry Seminar: Approaches to Poetry. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

One advantage of writing poetry within a rich and crowded literary tradition is that there are many poetic tools available out there, stranded where their last practitioners dropped them, some of them perhaps clichéd and overused, yet others all but forgotten or ignored.  In this class, students will isolate, describe, analyze, and put to use these many tools, while attempting to refurbish and contemporize them for the new century.  Students can expect to imitate and/or subvert various poetic styles, voices, and forms, to invent their own poetic forms and rules, to think in terms of not only specific poetic forms and metrics, but of overall poetic architecture (lineation and diction, repetition and surprise, irony and sincerity, rhyme and soundscape), and finally, to leave those traditions behind and learn to strike out in their own direction, to write -- as poet Frank O'Hara said -- on their own nerve.

WRIT W3353 Poetry Seminar: Traditions in Poetry. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Lyric poetry in contemporary practice continues to draw upon and modify its ancient sources, as well as Renaissance, Romantic and Modernist traditions.  In this seminar, we will explore the creation of the voice of the poem, the wild lyrical I, through closely reading female poets from antiquity to present day, beginning with Anne Carson's translations of Sappho, If Not Winter, all the way up to present avatars and noted sylists such as Mary Jo Bang (Elegy), Traci K. Smith (Life on Mars), Bernadette Mayer (New Directions Reader), Eileen Myles (Not Me), Maggie Nelson (Bluets) and others.  The identity of the poetic speaker remains with inescapable ties to memory and experience as one mode of the lyric, and with the dramatic topes of mask and persona as another.  Students will be asked to hear a range of current and classic women poets deploying, constructing and annihilating the self: the sonnets of Queen Elizabeth and the American beginnings of Anne Bradstreet; the emergence in the 19th century of iconic and radicalizing female presences: Emily Bronte, Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, Elizabeth Barrett Browning; and the predominance of 20th century masters who re-invented the English-language lyric as much as they inherited: Louise Bogan, Gwendolyn Brooks, H.D., Marianne Moore, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Laura Riding, and Gertrude Stein.  As background, students will read prose works (epistolary, writing, journals and diaries, classic essays as well as prose poetry), which may contextualize women's desire and its reception in public and private space: the religious mysticism of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Dorothy Wordsworth's journals, Emily Dickinson's letters, and Virginia Woolf's criticism and novels.  Students will be expected to keep their own reading diary or write letters in response to class readings, as well as select a classic and contemporary female poet for semester-long research.  Additional course handouts will be organized by particular groupings of interest to our study of desire & identity, voice & witness:  Confessional poetry (Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton), Cave Canem poets (Harryette Mullen and Natasha Trethway), New York School (Alice Notley and Hannah Weiner), as well as additional contemporary poets (Lyn Melnick and Matthea Harvey).

WRIT W3355 Poetry Seminar: Poetic Meter and Form. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

This course will investigate the uses of rhythmic order and disorder in English-language poetry, with a particular emphasis of 'formal' elements in 'free' verse.  Through a close analysis of poems, we'll examine the possibilities of qualitative meter, and students will write original creative work within (and in response to) various  formal traditions.  Analytical texts and poetic manifestoes will accompany our reading of exemplary poems. Each week, we'll study interesting examples of metrical writing, and I'll ask you to write in response to those examples.  Our topics will include stress meter, syllable-stress meter, double and triple meters, rising and falling rhythms, promotion, demotion, inversion, elision, and foot scansion.  Our study will include a great range of pre-modern and modern writers, from Keats to W. D. Snodgrass, Shakespeare to Denise Levertov, Blake to James Dickey, Whitman to Louise Gluck, etc.  As writers, we'll always be thinking about how the formal choices of a poem are appropriate or inappropriate for the poem's content.  We'll also read prose by poets describing their metrical craft.    

WRIT W3365 Poetry Seminar: 21st Century American Poetry and Its Concerns. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The lyric has often been conceived of as timeless in its content and inwardly-directed in its mode of address, yet so many poems with lasting claim on our attention point unmistakably outward, addressing the particulars of their times. This course will examine the ways in which an array of 21st poets have embraced, indicted, and anatomized their cultural and historical contexts, diagnosing society's ailments, indulging in its obsessions, and sharing its concerns. Engaging with such topics as race, class, war, death, trauma, feminism, pop culture and sexuality, how do poets adapt poetic form to provide meaningful and relevant insights without losing them to beauty, ambiguity, and music? How is pop star Rihanna a vehicle for discussing feminism and isolation? What does it mean to write about black masculinity after Ferguson? In a time when poetry's cultural relevancy is continually debated in academia and in the media, how can today's poets use their art to hold a mirror to modern living? This class will explore how writers address present-day topics in light of their own subjectivity, how their works reflect larger cultural trends and currents, and how critics as well as poets themselves have reflected on poetry's, and the poet's, changing social role. In studying how these writers complicate traditional notions of what poetry should/shouldn't do, both in terms of content and of form, students will investigate their own writing practices, fortify their poetic voices, and create works that engage directly and confidently with the world in which they are written.

WRIT W3367 Poetry Seminar - Witness, Record, Document: Poetry & Testimony. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

This seminar takes up the terms witness, record, and document as nouns and verbs. What is poetry of witness? Documentary poetry? Poetry as (revisionist ) historical record? What labor and what ethical, political, and aesthetic considerations are required of poets who endeavor to witness, record, or document historical events or moments of trauma? How is this approach to poetry informed by or contributing to feminist theories, aesthetic innovation, and revisionist approaches to official histories? Course materials include: 1) essays that explore the poetics and politics of "poetry of witness" or "documentary poetry"; 2) a range of contemporary American Poetry that has been classified as or has productively challenged these categories; 3) and audio, video, and photographic projects on which poets have collaborated. Our encounters with this work will be guided by and grounded in conversations about ideas of "truth," "text," the power relations of "documentation," and issues of language and representation in poetry.  We will also critically examine the formal (rhyme, rhythm, diction, form, genre, point of view, imagery, etc.) and philosophical components and interventions of the work we study and create.

WRIT W3370 Poetry Seminar: The Crisis of the I. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

"Things fall Apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world." So wrote Yeats in 1919, in the shadow of the "Great" War. As the individual mind found less and less recourse to "traditional" systems of belief and natrratives of meaning, poetry in the twentieth century began to bear witness to a fracturing of the self, and this "anarchy" was reflected in both the content and the forms of "modern" poems. Through a close analysis of poems by a variety of authors, this course will investigate aesthetic strategies for representing such a fragmentation in perception and cognition, as well as the urgency of a moral dialectic in poems written in the wake of large-scale cultural traumas. We will also look at various aesthetic strategies for "recovering" from a disintegration of self, including deep-image poetics, repetition and incantation, new formalism, and narrative tensions in the lyric mode.

WRIT W3371 Cross Genre Seminar: Structure and Style. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

This seminar explores fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama as related disciplines.  While each genre has its particular opportunities and demands, all can utilize such devices as narrative, dialogue, imagery, and description (scenes, objects, and thought processes).  Through a wide variety of readings and writing exercises, we will examine and explore approaches to language, ways of telling a story (linear and nonlinear), and how pieces are constructed. Some student work will be briefly workshopped.

WRIT W3372 Fiction Seminar: Formally Yours: Experiments With Form & (Neo)Formalism In Contemporary American Poetry. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

From Marilyn Hacker's lesbian sonnets to the Afro-formalist invention of the bop, a wide array of American poets are engaging with and encouraging radical reconsiderations of received forms.  How and why are poets -- particularly from historically underrepresented communities -- turning to and reimagining form and formalism?  What exactly does (neo) formalism mean in recent years and who are the poets who are shaping this terrain?  How have the formal experimentations by black, queer, feminist, and other poets of color transformed and transgressed the borders of American poetry?  Each week during the first two months of the semester, we will study and produce a selection of contemporary poetic experiments with a particular received, traditional, newly invented, or ghost form such as onnets, sestinas, villanelles, triolets, blues, and prose poems.  We will spend the last month of the semester studying collections by contemporary poets who deploy a variety of received and new forms.  What do these forms and their rules, restrictions, and reconfigurations make possible for both the poets we study and for our own practice? 

WRIT W3373 Filmwriting. 3 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Filmwriting is taught as a workshop and is designed for students who have an interest in film and/or the ways in which other literary forms might be adapted for the filmic medium. Through observing the ways successful films are put together, identifying universal 'mythic' patterns in all stories, participating in in-class exercises, weekly assignments and individual projects students will learn the basics inherent to story telling in general and screen storytelling in particular. Students will be expected to produce approximately seventy pages of screen writing. This work may be composed of independent scenes or of sequential scenes building to a short film.

WRIT W3375 Playwriting. 3 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Playwriting is taught as a workshop and is designed for students who have an interest in dialogue, the construction of the dramatic scene, and playwriting as a literary and performance art form. Attention is given to the ways in which playwriting techniques might be applied to work in other genres. Students will be assigned exercises in conflict, rhythm, dialogue, character, and the development of material. Students will be expected to produce approximately seventy pages of dramatic writing. This work can be composed of several independent scenes or of sequential scenes that build to a one-act play.

WRIT W3377 Traditions in Creative Writing. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Historical Studies (HIS)., BC: Partial Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Laboratory Science (SCI).

Prerequisites: Please see 612 Lewisohn for registration guidelines or go to http://www.columbia.edu/cu/writing

Creative writers are faced with dizzying options. We know we want to write, but what should we write, and how? To what degree should we study the accomplished writing of the past in order to produce writing for today and the future? What are some enticing strategies for making art out of language, and what are some striking examples from history that can guide us? This craft seminar—a course in the techniques of creative writing—will explore the fundamentals of fiction, poetry, literary nonfiction, and dramatic writing, as well as hybrid forms that are harder to name. Students will learn to read as writers; they will study literary forms and styles, they will become familiar with accomplished work from a range of genres, and they will compose creative work of their own.

WRIT W3380 Translation Seminar: The European Fairy Tale. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT needed.
Corequisites: This course is open to undergraduate & graduate students. Knowledge of another language is not required.

Chances are you know something about the Brothers Grimm, but not so much, perhaps, about the complex storytelling traditions to which the stories collected belonged.  This seminar will explore the European fairy tale in all its glorious history, including works written or collected by Charles Perrault, Jean de La Fontaine, Marie de Beaumont, Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy (who first coined the term "conte de fée" or "fairy tale"), Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Alexander Afanasyev, Hans Christian Andersen, Oscar Wilde and George MacDonald.  Throughout the semester, we'll be talking about issues of translation in these tales and comparing them to the fairy-tale-inspired writing of our own age, including work by Angela Carter, Robert Coover, Donald Barthelme,  Kelly Link, Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, Yoko Tawada, George Saunders and others.  Analytical, translational and fantastical assignments.  No foreign language skills required.  Three papers.

WRIT W3382 Fiction Seminar: Story Collection As Art Form. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

How do story collections happen?  Are they just anthologies of the best (or the only) stories a writer has produced in a given time period?  How do you decide what goes in it, and how do you organize it, and how many do you need?  In this class we're going to read a bunch of short story collections, in a variety of genres and modes.  Rigorous literary, aesthetic, and critical analysis of individual stories will here be linked to macro-level questions such as: What makes a "linked collection" different from a novel?  What are some of the ways that a "linked" collection forges its links-- character, theme, place, narrative strategy, mood, etc.?  How does a writer handle her recurring themes without falling into repetition?  How does the story collection compare with (or relate to) self-anthologizing forms in other disciplines: the poetry collection, the record album, the solo exhibition? Books include: The Piazza Tales by Herman Melville; Red Cavalry by Isaac Babel (Peter Constantine trans.); Super Flat Times by Matthew Derby; Normal People Don't Live Like This by Dylan Landis; The Train to Lo Wu by Jess Row; Don't Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine; Birds of America by Lorrie Moore; The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald; Criers and Kibbitzers, Kibbitzers and Criers by Stanley Elkin; The Actual Adventures of michael Missing by Michael Hickins; and A Personal Anthology by Jorge Luis Borges.

WRIT W3384 Nonfiction Seminar: Literature Without Writing. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites required. Department approval NOT required.

The investigative dialogue is among the oldest forms of literature, and it remains one of the most egalitarian and relevant to life.  It's simple - comment and response, question and answer - and can be produced by artists, scientists, lunatics, athletes, criminals, and any other human being, from Plato to Oprah Winfrey.  The interview is a kind of performative literature, documenting a time, place, mood, and an extemporaneous exchange.  Transcription transforms the off-the-cuff spoken word into permanent, written text, from ear to page, an art form of capturing rather than imagining.  Conversational language is also essential to the art of fiction, showing through telling, or explaining instead of organizing our life into this-then-that narratives.  Modernism was the age of the interior monologue but the internal debate might be a form more reflective of the 21st century mind.  This course will include readings of psychoanalytic sessions, legal court transcripts, celebrity chats, Zen koan talks, philosophical dialogues, podcasts, television talk shows, and fictional interviews.  Students will conduct real interviews and write fictional ones.  They will transcribe, listen, and hear literature in the artless, everyday discussion. 

WRIT W3386 Cross Genre Seminar: Imagining Berlin. 3 points.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission. Open to juniors & seniors.

How can one imagine a city in a piece of writing with such vividness that the place springs to life as a mythical metropolis?  The city of Berlin, which has often been at the crossroads of history in its asphalt-and-cobblestone reality, has developed a fictional life as well, inspiring countless writers.  We'll take this city as a model for writing about place, exploring the ways in which descriptions function in narrative to create a backdrop that fuels a story and provides atmospheric support for its unfolding.  To begin with, we'll read some of the important modernist works that established Berlin as a literary locus, mirroring the city's vibrant life in the early decades of the twentieth century.  Later readings will show us Berlin in its wartime and Cold War incarnations, the city bisected into East and West, followed by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and its aftermath.  Some of the narratives we'll be reading will be historical, some highly imaginative, some fantastical.  Several films will provide counterpoint.  We'll end the term with recent fictional approaches to the city by writers of several nationalities.  For the books written in languages other than English, we'll be reading with attention to the translations.  No knowledge of any language other than English required.

WRIT UN3388 Daily Life. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

In his poem A Few Days, James Schuyler reflects" "A few days / are all we have.  So count them as they pass.  They pass too quickly / out of breath."  Before we know it, as Schuyler says, "Today is tomorrow."  This course will encourage us to slow down time and document today while it is still today.  One of the course's main points is to pursue the ordinary, and to recognize that the ordinary -- whether presented as poems, essays, stories, fragments, etc.  -- can become art.  Assignments will provide broad examples of how to portray dailiness.  Each week you will write a short piece (1-3 pages) that responds to these assignments while engaging your own daily life.  The form is open.  You could, for example, write a poem or story with a brief critical preface, or you could compose an essay that explores formal and/or thematic qualities.  You can also create multimedia work.  The important thing is to treat the materials we will read as springboards into your own artistic practice.

WRIT W3388 Cross Genre Seminar: Daily Life. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

In his poem A Few Days, James Schuyler reflects" "A few days / are all we have.  So count them as they pass.  They pass too quickly / out of breath."  Before we know it, as Schuyler says, "Today is tomorrow."  This course will encourage us to slow down time and document today while it is still today.  One of the course's main points is to pursue the ordinary, and to recognize that the ordinary -- whether presented as poems, essays, stories, fragments, etc.  -- can become art.  Assignments will provide broad examples of how to portray dailiness.  Each week you will write a short piece (1-3 pages) that responds to these assignments while engaging your own daily life.  The form is open.  You could, for example, write a poem or story with a brief critical preface, or you could compose an essay that explores formal and/or thematic qualities.  You can also create multimedia work.  The important thing is to treat the materials we will read as springboards into your own artistic practice.

WRIT W3520 Fiction Seminar: The Here & Now. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

In this course, we will read a wide variety of short fiction that concerns itself with the clarification and magnification of particular moments of being.  An emphasis will be placed on how these writers notice things that others might overlook-- the small, the peculiar, the unexpected-- and then how they transform these seemingly modest things with the force of their attention.  Our goal will be to proceed through these stories at the level of the sentence.  Why this quiet pulling back?  Much of our discussion will center on why a specific (and at times mysterious-seeming) choice has abeen made by an author.  But we will also from time to time broaden our focus to encompass larger philosophical concerns that are triggered by these questions of craft. We will talk about the science of attention, false and true lyricism, "the discipline of rightness" (as Wallace Stevens once described it) and why it is that feeling so often precedes form.  We will not spend very much time exploring the thematic concerns of these stories.  Nor will we speak in great detail about whether we find contained within them sympathetic or unsympathetic characters.  Instead, the aim of this class will be to analyze the formal elements of fiction with an eye towards refining our own prose styles and towards saying more clearly how it happened that a given text did or did not move us.

WRIT W3530 Cross-Genre Seminar: Process Writing & Writing Process. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Prerequisites not required. Departmental approval NOT required.

The act of writing is often mythologized, romanticized, or dismissed as peripheral to the text itself. This course will address the process as a primary lens for looking at art, focusing on literature that explicitly investigates the experience of its creation. Readings will include writings by visual artists who produce documents of performances, surrealists who use "automatic" methods to reveal the unconscious, poets who seek to capture states of enlightenment or intoxication, and novelists who employ extreme conditions to achieve unexpected results. For the class, students will experiement with their environment, lifestyle, and methods to increase their awareness of how everything they do can affect what appears on the page.

WRIT W3680 Nonfiction Seminar: The Literary Reporter. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites required. Department approval NOT required.

The literary reporter is a changeable character.  When she's conducting immersion journalism, she lives with her sources, tries to blend with them.  Long-form narrative reporting requires her to ask difficult questions, born from exhaustive research and critical observation.  The memoirist reports from the prism of her own experience, casting herself as a character, making meaning of interviews through the fault lines of memory.  The biographer is a ventriloquist, often embodying the purpose or quest of another person, and pulling voices and stories from hints and scraps.  In this seminar, students will explore the various kinds of literary reporting inherent to various nonfiction literary forms, unearthing the strategies writers can use to elicit powerful interviews, background stories and ultimately, what it means to author another person's "truth," and discuss the delicate terrains of race, gender and political misunderstanding, interrogating our own preconceptions. Readings will include Peter Hessler, Suketu Mehta, Richard Rodriguez, Joan Didion, Janet Malcolm, and Ted Conover, as well as Julia Kristeva and Michel Foucault, and we'll read interviews with authors about their craft, to learn from their direct experience.  Students will have the opportunity to do some reporting on their own, and will write two short papers. 

WRIT W3685 Poetry Seminar: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

This course is designed to address the particular frustrations surrounding revision.  We will excavate our abandoned work-- subjecting it to maneuvers ranging from the light in touch to the radical; visiting techniques appropriate for the isolation chamber, as well as the collaborative.  And we will examine how poets throughout the ages have approached revision -- including Lowell's changing of words into their opposites; Auden's revisions of his published work from the standpoint of maturity; Plath's 'next poem as revision' technique.  The idea of the class borrows from the world's current trash predicament:  how to cut our waste; re-use creatively what we have already produced; make something new and useful of our junk.

WRIT W3697 Senior Fiction Workshop. 4 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Seniors who are majors in creative writing are given priority for this course.  Enrollment is limited, and is by permission of the professor.  The senior workshop offers students the opportunity to work exclusively with classmates who are at the same high level of accomplishment in the major.  Students in the senior workshops will produce and revise a new and substantial body of work.  In-class critiques and conferences with the professor will be tailored to needs of each student.

WRIT W3798 Senior Nonfiction Workshop. 4 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Seniors who are majors in creative writing are given priority for this course. Enrollment is limited, and is by permission of the professor. The senior workshop offers students the opportunity to work exclusively with classmates who are at the same high level of accomplishment in the major. Students in the senior workshops will produce and revise a new and substantial body of work. In-class critiques and conferences with the professor will be tailored to needs of each student.

WRIT W3830 Fiction Seminar: Voices & Visions of Childhood. 3 points.

This course focuses on literature written for adults, NOT children's books or young-adult literature.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

Flannery O'Connor famously said, "Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days."  A child's or youth's journey-- whether through ordinary, universal rites of passage, or through extraordinary adventure or trauma-- compels an adult reader (and writer) to (re)inhabit the world as both naif and nature's savant.  Through the knowing/unknowing eye of the child or adolescent, the writer can explore adult topics prismatically and poignantly -- "from the bottom up" -- via humor, terror, innocence, wonder, or all of the above.    In this course, we will read both long and short form examples of childhood and youth stories, examining in particular the relationships between narrator and character, character and world (setting), character and language and narrator and reader (i.e. "reliability" of narrator).  Students will write two papers.  Short scene-based writing assignments will challenge student writers to both mine their own memories for material and imagine voices/experiences far from their own.

WRIT W3898 Senior Poetry Workshop. 4 points.

Prerequisites: The department's permission required through writing sample. Please go to 609 Kent for submission schedule and registration guidelines or see http://www.arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Seniors who are majors in creative writing are given priority for this course. Enrollment is limited, and is by permission of the professor. The senior workshop offers students the opportunity to work exclusively with classmates who are at the same high level of accomplishment in the major. Students in the senior workshops will produce and revise a new and substantial body of work. In-class critiques and conferences with the professor will be tailored to needs of each student.

WRIT W4010 Translation Seminar: The European Fairy Tale. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT needed.
Corequisites: This course is open to undergraduate & graduate students. Knowledge of another language is not required.

Chances are you know something about the Brothers Grimm, but not so much, perhaps, about the complex storytelling traditions to which the stories collected belonged.  This seminar will explore the European fairy tale in all its glorious history, including works written or collected by Charles Perrault, Jean de La Fontaine, Marie de Beaumont, Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy (who first coined the term "conte de fée" or "fairy tale"), Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Alexander Afanasyev, Hans Christian Andersen, Oscar Wilde and George MacDonald.  Throughout the semester, we'll be talking about issues of translation in these tales and comparing them to the fairy-tale-inspired writing of our own age, including work by Angela Carter, Robert Coover, Donald Barthelme,  Kelly Link, Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, Yoko Tawada, George Saunders and others.  Analytical, translational and fantastical assignments.  No foreign language skills required.  Three papers.

WRIT W4012 Cross Genre Seminar: Diva Voice, Diva Style, Diva Lyrics. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

The figure of the diva -- the celebrated, iconic, and supremely skilled female performer -- is often characterized by her disciplined voice, singular style, and transgressive approach to the boundaries of convention.  Like the diva, the writer values voice, style, disciplined practice, and the display of virtuosity.  This seminar focuses on how American writers across a range of genres -- poetry, lyric essay, memoir, drama, biography, critical theory -- have turned to the diva as not simply the source of inspiration for their subject matter, but as a method for crafting their own signature voice or style and as a model for crossing the conventional boundaries of genre.  How has diva writing shaped and redrawn the formal contours of the lyric essay, sonnet, ode, elegy, autobiography, or theoretical discourses about race, gender, and sexuality?  What can the writing and performances by and about divas (and diva worship) teach us about our approaches to voice, style, genre, and form in our own writing practices? 

WRIT GU4013 Writing the War. 3 points.

What, how, and to what ends have we written creatively about war and violence?  How have literary ideas of genre and point of view and voice as well as cultural ideas of gender and nation and citizenship been shaped and challenged by writing about war, violence, and/or trauma?  This course considers a range of genres - poetry, fiction and plays --from a range of perspectives - veterans, victims of war crimes and other forms of violence and trauma, anti-war activists, children of war and domestic violence survivors - within the capacious category of war literature.

Spring 2017: WRIT GU4013
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 4013 001/71050 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
407 Dodge Building
Deborah Paredez 3 17/10

WRIT GU4014 Through a Glass Darkly: German Romantic Tales of Wonder and Horror. 3 points.

We’ve all been frightened by horror stories at some point in our lives, but how is this fear achieved? It’s all too easy for attempts to inspire fear to fall flat, resulting in anything from camp to farce. Truly frightening literature involves a feat of storytelling by which disbelief is so thoroughly suspended as to render the reader vulnerable to the most improbable fears. We are perhaps most nakedly human when confronted by what unsettles us. By carefully reading these classic works of (mostly) nineteenth century wonder and horror, we will study the ways in which these effects are achieved and the ways in which writing about the supernatural serves the writers’ political and psychological goals. Throughout the semester, we’ll also be talking about issues of translation when applicable. The course has three main goals: 1. to acquaint students with the general history of wonder/horror writing in the German Romantic and Gothic traditions; 2. to get students thinking about translation and the ways it impacts how we read; and 3. to inspire students to explore the use of the techniques employed in these works for use in their own writing. 

Fall 2017: WRIT GU4014
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 4014 001/63746 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
403 Dodge Building
Susan Bernofsky 3 14/20

WRIT W4312 Poetry Seminar: Reimagining Ekphrasis. 3 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.

At least since the Greek poet Simonides of Ceos called "painting silent poetry and poetry painting that speaks," poetry has existed in conversation with a variety of other art forms, particularly visual art. In this class we will explore poetry as an interdisciplinary practice, with an emphasis on the work of artists who create in both the visual and textual fields. Among other key critical questions, we will consider: 1. How has an intersection with visual art been important to poetry historically? 2. How does visual experience relate to particular aspects of poetry writing? 3. How can we use visual art towards our own creative process in the future, either by using visual art in writing poetry or by incorporating illustration in the presentation of our written work? A mix of texts -- classic and contemporary poetry, illuminated manuscripts, children's picturebooks, literature that we might consider visually driven, and related scholarship form the basis for our investigations, discussions, and creative work. Among these texts we will consider work by Etel Adnan, John Ashbery, William Blake, Tisa Bryant, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Robert Duncan, Matthea Harvey, Susan Howe, Bhanu Kapil, Douglas Kearney, Ezra Jack Keats, D.H. Lawrence, Tan Lin, Fred Moten, Maggie Nelson, Frank O'Hara, Adam Pendleton, Maurice Sendak, Cecilia Vicuña, Hannah Weiner, William Carlos Williams, and W.B. Yeats, among others. Our class will function as part seminar and part workshop. We will spend much of the class discussing texts and issues surrounding the course's theme, completing in-class writing exercises, and the other parts giving each other feedback on creative work. By the completion of the course, students will have turned in six reading responses, several independent writing projects, as well as a short critical paper and a short creative manuscript.