Creative Writing

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

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Prof. Anelise Chen, Fiction, Nonfiction, 609 Kent; 212-854-3774; ac4132@columbia.edu

Undergraduate Executive Committee:

  • Undergraduate Advisory Committee:

    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. For details on the major, see the Creative Writing website: http://arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate.

Professors

Margo L. Jefferson

Phillip Lopate

  • Benjamin Marcus
  • Alan Ziegler

Associate Professors

  • Susan Bernofsky
  • Timothy Donnelly
  • Rivka Galchen
  • Heidi Julavits
  • Dorothea Lasky
  • Victor LaValle
  • Sam Lipsyte
  • Deborah Paredez
  • Wendy Walters

Assistant Professors

  • Anelise Chen
  • Lynn Xu

Adjunct Professors

  • Hannah L Assadi
  • Eliza B Callahan
  • Bonnie Chau
  • Meehan J Crist
  • Matty Davis
  • Alex Dimitrov
  • Joseph Fasano
  • Omer M Friedlander
  • Emily R Gutierrez
  • Lars Horn
  • Alexis J Hutchinson
  • Katrine Øgaard Jensen
  • Emily Christine C Johnson
  • Chloe Jones
  • Quincy S Jones
  • Sophie Kemp
  • Joss Lake
  • Holly Melgard
  • Marie Myung-Ok Lee
  • Emily Luan
  • Vanessa Martir
  • Kyle McCarthy
  • Patricia Marx
  • Molly L McGhee
  • Mallika Rao
  • Mark Rozzo
  • Zohra Saed
  • Rebecca J Schiff
  • Mina Seckin
  • Joel Sedaño Jr
  • Luciana Siracusano
  • Wally Suphap
  • Adam Z Wilson
  • James C Yeh
  • Samantha Zighelboim

Lecturer in the Discipline of Writing

  • Latif A Ba
  • Peter M Rafel
  • Ronald L Robertson Jr
  •  

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 WRKSHP
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,Senior Fiction Workshop
WRIT UN3201SENIOR 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 UN3121HOW TO BUILD A PERSON
WRIT UN3117Fiction Seminar: The Here & Now
WRIT UN3122FIRST NOVELS: HOW THEY WORK
WRIT UN3120THE CRAFT OF WRITING DIALOGUE
NONFICTION
WRIT UN3213Nonfiction Seminar: The Literary Reporter
WRIT UN3215ART WRITING FOR WRITERS
WRIT UN3216TRUTH & FACTS
WRIT UN3217SCIENCE AND SENSIBILITY
POETRY
WRIT UN2311TRADITIONS IN POETRY
WRIT UN3313Poetry Seminar: The Crisis of the I
WRIT UN3314Poetry Seminar: 21st Century American Poetry and Its Concerns
WRIT GU4310WITNESS,RECORD,DOCUMENT
CROSS GENRE
WRIT GU4011Cross Genre Seminar: Imagining Berlin
WRIT GU4012Cross Genre Seminar: Diva Voice, Diva Style, Diva Lyrics
WRIT UN3016WALKING
WRIT UN3013Cross-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.

Fiction Workshops

WRIT UN1100 BEGINNING FICTION WORKSHOP. 3.00 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 2024: WRIT UN1100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 1100 001/15112 Th 6:10pm - 8:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Ronald Robertson 3.00 17/15
WRIT 1100 002/15113 M 10:10am - 12:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Emily Christine Johnson 3.00 14/15
WRIT 1100 003/15163 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Emily Gutierrez 3.00 13/15
WRIT 1100 004/15164 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Alexis Hutchinson 3.00 13/15
WRIT 1100 005/15165 Th 10:10am - 12:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Luciana Siracusano 3.00 14/15

WRIT UN2100 INTERMEDIATE FICTION WORKSHOP. 3.00 points.

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. Please visit https://arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate for information about registration procedures

Spring 2024: WRIT UN2100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2100 001/15117 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Joss Lake 3.00 11/15
WRIT 2100 002/15118 Th 4:10pm - 6:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Omer Friedlander 3.00 9/15
Fall 2024: WRIT UN2100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2100 001/13546 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Heidi Julavits 3.00 0/15
WRIT 2100 002/13547 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Sophie Kemp 3.00 0/15

WRIT UN3100 ADVANCED FICTION WORKSHOP. 3.00 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. Please visit https://arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate for information about registration procedures

Spring 2024: WRIT UN3100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3100 001/15126 Th 4:10pm - 6:00pm
507 Philosophy Hall
Rebecca Schiff 3.00 13/15
WRIT 3100 002/15127 M 10:10am - 12:00pm
507 Philosophy Hall
Marie Lee 3.00 15/15
Fall 2024: WRIT UN3100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3100 001/13550 Th 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Room TBA
Hannah Assadi 3.00 0/15
WRIT 3100 002/13551 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
Room TBA
Victor Lavalle 3.00 0/15

WRIT UN3101 SENIOR FICTION WORKSHOP,Senior Fiction Workshop. 4.00,4 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.
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.,

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 2024: WRIT UN3101
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3101 001/15128 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Sat Alfred Lerner Hall
Samuel Lipsyte 4 13/15
Fall 2024: WRIT UN3101
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3101 001/13552 T 10:10am - 12:00pm
Room TBA
Rivka Galchen 4 0/12

Fiction Seminars

WRIT UN2110 APPROACHES TO THE SHORT STORY. 3.00 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 "commonsense" 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

Spring 2024: WRIT UN2110
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2110 001/15119 Th 12:10pm - 2:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Ronald Robertson 3.00 16/15

WRIT UN3128 How to Write Funny. 3.00 points.

"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die." --Mel Brooks "Comedy has to be based on truth. You take the truth and you put a little curlicue at the End." --Sid Caesar "Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it." --E.B. White "What is comedy? Comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke." --Steve Martin "Patty Marx is the best teacher at Columbia University." --Patty Marx One of the above quotations is false. Find out which one in this humor-writing workshop, where you will read, listen to, and watch comedic samples from well-known and lesser-known humorists. How could you not have fun in a class where we watch and critique the sketches of Monty Python, Nichols and May, Mr. Show, Mitchell & Webb, Key and Peele, French and Saunders, Derrick Comedy, Beyond the Fringe, Dave Chappelle, Bob and Ray, Mel Brooks, Amy Schumer, and SNL, to name just a few? The crux of our time, though, will be devoted to writing. Students will be expected to complete weekly writing assignments; additionally, there will be in-class assignments geared to strategies for crafting surprise (the kind that results in a laugh as opposed to, say, a heart attack or divorce). Toward this end, we will study the use of irony, irreverence, hyperbole, misdirection, subtext, wordplay, formulas such as the rule of three and paraprosdokians (look it up), and repetition, and repetition

Spring 2024: WRIT UN3128
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3128 001/15131 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Patricia Marx 3.00 14/15

WRIT UN3125 APOCALYPSES NOW. 3.00 points.

From ancient myths of the world’s destruction to cinematic works that envision a post-apocalyptic reality, zealots of all kinds have sought an understanding of “the end of the world as we know it.”  But while apocalyptic predictions have, so far, failed to deliver a real glimpse of that end, in fiction they abound.  In this course, we will explore the narrative mechanisms by which post-apocalyptic works create projections of our own world that are believably imperiled, realistically degraded, and designed to move us to feel differently and act differently within the world we inhabit.  We will consider ways in which which authors craft immersive storylines that maintain a vital allegorical relationship to the problems of the present, and discuss recent trends in contemporary post-apocalyptic fiction.  How has the genre responded to our changing conception of peril?  Is literary apocalyptic fiction effective as a vehicle for persuasion and for showing threats in a new light?  Ultimately, we will inquire into the possibility of thinking beyond our present moment and, by doing so, altering our fate.

Fall 2024: WRIT UN3125
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3125 001/13553 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Room TBA
Molly McGhee 3.00 15/15

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 UN3121 HOW TO BUILD A PERSON. 3.00 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Departmental approval NOT required.
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. Well read stories and novels; we may also look at essays and biographical writing to analyze where the traces of personhood reside. Well 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

Fall 2024: WRIT UN3121
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3121 001/13554 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Mina Seckin 3.00 15/15

WRIT UN3132 THE ECSTASY OF INFLUENCE. 3.00 points.

What does it mean to be original? How do we differentiate plagiarism from pastiche, appropriation from homage? And how do we build on pre-existing traditions while simultaneously creating work that reflects our own unique experiences of the world? In a 2007 essay for Harper’s magazine, Jonathan Lethem countered critic Harold Bloom’s theory of “the anxiety of influence” by proposing, instead, an “ecstasy of influence”; Lethem suggested that writers embrace rather than reject the unavoidable imprints of their literary forbearers. Beginning with Lethem’s essay—which, itself, is composed entirely of borrowed (or “sampled”) text—this class will consider the nature of literary influence, and its role in the development of voice. Each week, students will read from pairings of older stories and novel excerpts with contemporary work that falls within the same artistic lineage. In doing so, we’ll track the movement of stylistic, structural, and thematic approaches to fiction across time, and think about the different ways that stories and novels can converse with one another. We will also consider the influence of other artistic mediums—music, visual art, film and television—on various texts. Students will then write their own original short pieces modeled after the readings. Just as musicians cover songs, we will “cover” texts, adding our own interpretive imprints

Fall 2024: WRIT UN3132
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3132 001/13555 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Room TBA
Adam Wilson 3.00 15/15

Nonfiction Workshops

WRIT UN1200 BEGINNING NONFICTION WORKSHOP. 3.00 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 2024: WRIT UN1200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 1200 001/15114 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Peter Raffel 3.00 13/15
WRIT 1200 002/15115 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
212a Lewisohn Hall
Wally Suphap 3.00 14/15

WRIT UN2200 INTERMEDIATE NONFICTION WRKSHP. 3.00 points.

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. Please visit https://arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate for information about registration procedures

Spring 2024: WRIT UN2200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2200 001/15120 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Zohra Saed 3.00 12/15
Fall 2024: WRIT UN2200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2200 001/13548 M 10:10am - 12:00pm
Room TBA
3.00 0/15

WRIT UN3200 ADVANCED NONFICTION WORKSHOP. 3.00 points.

Advanced Nonfiction Workshop is for students with significant narrative and/or critical experience. Students will produce original literary nonfiction for the workshop. This workshop is reserved for accomplished nonfiction writers and maintains the highest level of creative and critical expectations. Among the many forms that creative nonfiction might assume, students may work in the following nonfiction genres: memoir, personal essay, journalism, travel writing, science writing, and/or others. In addition, students may be asked to consider the following: ethical considerations in nonfiction writing, social and cultural awareness, narrative structure, detail and description, point of view, voice, and editing and revision among other aspects of praxis. A portfolio of nonficiton will be written and revised with the critical input of the instructor and the workshop. Please visit https://arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate for information about registration procedures

WRIT UN3201 SENIOR NONFICTION WORKSHOP. 4.00 points.

Spring 2024: WRIT UN3201
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3201 001/15129 M 12:10pm - 2:00pm
301m Fayerweather
Lars Horn 4.00 12/15
Fall 2024: WRIT UN3201
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3201 001/13556 M 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Room TBA
4.00 0/15

Nonfiction Seminars

WRIT UN2211 TRADITIONS IN NONFICTION. 3.00 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 authors voice, the authors 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

Spring 2024: WRIT UN2211
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2211 001/15121 W 6:10pm - 8:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Peter Raffel 3.00 15/15

WRIT UN3214 HYBRID NONFICTION FORMS. 3.00 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.
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 writers 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

Fall 2024: WRIT UN3214
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3214 001/13557 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Room TBA
Margo Jefferson 3.00 15/15

WRIT UN3215 ART WRITING FOR WRITERS. 3.00 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.
Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. In this course, we will look at some of the most dynamic examples of "visual writing." To begin, we will look at writers writing about art, from the Romantic period through the present. The modes of this art writing we will consider include: the practice of ekphrasis (poems which address or derive their inspiration from a work of art); writers such as Ralph Ellison, Amiri Baraka, John Ashbery, and Eileen Myles, who for periods of their lives worked as art critics; writers such as Etel Adnan and Alexander Kulge, who have produced literature and works of art in equal measure; as well as numerous collaborations between writers and visual artists. We will also look at artists who have written essays and poetry throughout their careers, like artists Robert Smithson, Glenn Ligon, David Wojnarowicz, Moyra Davey, Paul Chan, and Hannah Black, as well as professional critics whose work has been elevated to the status of literature, such as Hilton Als, Janet Malcolm, and Susan Sontag. Lastly, we will consider what it means to write through a “milieu” of sonic and visual artists, such as those associated with Dada, the Harlem Renaissance, the New York School, and Moscow Conceptualism. Throughout the course, students will also be prompted to write with and about current art exhibitions and events throughout the city. They will produce original works in various of the modes described above and complete a final writing project that incorporates what they have learned

Fall 2024: WRIT UN3215
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3215 001/13558 W 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Room TBA
Eliza Callahan 3.00 15/15

WRIT UN3217 SCIENCE AND SENSIBILITY. 3.00 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. 

Fall 2024: WRIT UN3217
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3217 001/13559 M 10:10am - 12:00pm
Room TBA
Meehan Crist 3.00 5/15

WRIT UN3224 Writing the Sixties. 3.00 points.

In this seminar, we will target nonfiction from the 1960s—the decade that saw an avalanche of new forms, new awareness, new freedoms, and new conflicts, as well as the beginnings of social movements and cultural preoccupations that continue to frame our lives, as writers and as citizens, in the 21st century: civil rights, feminism, environmentalism, LGBTQ rights, pop culture, and the rise of mass media. We will look back more than a half century to examine the development of modern criticism, memoir, reporting, and profile-writing, and the ways they entwine. Along the way, we will ask questions about these classic nonfiction forms: How do reporters, essayists, and critics make sense of the new? How do they create work as rich as the best novels and short stories? Can criticism rise to the level of art? What roles do voice, point-of-view, character, dialogue, and plot—the traditional elements of fiction—play? As we go, we will witness the unfolding of arguably the most transitional decade in American history—with such events as the Kennedy assassination, the Watts Riots, the Human Be In, and the Vietnam War, along with the rise of Pop art, rock ‘n’ roll, and a new era of moviemaking—as it was documented in real time by writers at The New Yorker, New Journalists at Esquire, and critics at Partisan Review and Harper’s, among other publications. Some writers we will consider: James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Susan Sontag, Rachel Carson, Dwight Macdonald, Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote, Pauline Kael, Nik Cohn, Joseph Mitchell, Lillian Ross, Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, Thomas Pynchon, John Updike, Michael Herr, Martha Gellhorn, John McPhee, and Betty Friedan. We will be joined by guest speakers

Spring 2024: WRIT UN3224
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3224 001/18550 M 6:10pm - 8:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Mark Rozzo 3.00 14/15

WRIT UN3225 LIFE STORIES. 3.00 points.

In this seminar, we will target nonfiction that tells stories about lives: profiles, memoirs, and biographies. We will examine how the practice of this kind of nonfiction, and ideas about it, have evolved over the past 150 years. Along the way, we will ask questions about these nonfiction forms: How do reporters, memoirists, biographers, and critics make sense of their subjects? How do they create work as rich as the best novels and short stories? Can criticism explicate the inner life of a human subject? What roles do voice, point-of-view, character, dialogue, and plot—the traditional elements of fiction—play? Along the way, we’ll engage in issues of identity and race, memory and self, real persons and invented characters and we’ll get glimpses of such key publications as The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper’s, and The New York Review of Books. Some writers we will consider: Frederick Douglass, Louisa May Alcott, Walt Whitman, Henry Adams, Joseph Mitchell, Lillian Ross, James Agee, John Hersey, Edmund Wilson, Gore Vidal, Gay Talese, James Baldwin, Vladimir Nabokov, Janet Malcolm, Robert Caro, Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison, Joan Didion, and Henry Louis Gates Jr. The course regularly welcomes guest speakers

Fall 2024: WRIT UN3225
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3225 001/13560 M 6:10pm - 8:00pm
Room TBA
Mark Rozzo 3.00 15/15

WRIT UN3226 NONFICTION-ISH. 3.00 points.

This cross-genre craft seminar aims to uncover daring and unusual approaches to literature informed by nonfiction (and nonfiction-adjacent) practices. In this course we will closely read and analyze a diverse set of works, including Svetlana Alexievich’s oral history of women and war, Lydia Davis’s “found” microfictions, Theresa Hak Cha’s genre-exploding “auto-enthnography,” Alejandro Zambra’s unabashedly literary narratives, Sigrid Nunez’s memoir “of” Susan Sontag, Emmanuel Carrére’s “nonfiction novel,” John Keene’s bold counternarratives, W. G. Sebald’s saturnine essay-portraits, Saidiya Hartman’s melding of history and literary imagination, Annie Ernaux’s collective autobiography, Sheila Heti’s alphabetized diary, Ben Mauk’s oral history about Xinjiang detention camps, and Edward St. Aubyn’s autobiographical novel about the British aristocracy and childhood trauma, among other texts. We will also examine Sharon Mashihi’s one-woman autofiction podcasts about Iranian Jewish American family. What we learn in this course we will apply to our own work, which will consist of two creative writing responses and a creative final project. Students will also learn to keep a daily writing journal

Spring 2024: WRIT UN3226
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3226 001/15130 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Sat Alfred Lerner Hall
James Yeh 3.00 19/20

Poetry Workshops

WRIT UN1300 BEGINNING POETRY WORKSHOP. 3.00 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 others original work

Spring 2024: WRIT UN1300
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 1300 001/15116 M 4:10pm - 6:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Latif Ba 3.00 15/15
WRIT 1300 002/15167 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
308a Lewisohn Hall
Joel Sedano 3.00 13/15

WRIT UN2300 INTERMEDIATE POETRY WORKSHOP. 3.00 points.

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. Please visit https://arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate for information about registration procedures

Spring 2024: WRIT UN2300
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2300 001/15122 M 4:10pm - 6:00pm
602 Lewisohn Hall
Alexander Dimitrov 3.00 15/15
Fall 2024: WRIT UN2300
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2300 001/13549 M 10:10am - 12:00pm
Room TBA
Alexander Dimitrov 3.00 0/15

WRIT UN3300 ADVANCED POETRY WORKSHOP. 3.00 points.

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. Please visit https://arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate for information about registration procedures

Fall 2024: WRIT UN3300
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3300 001/13561 W 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Room TBA
Emily Luan 3.00 0/15

WRIT UN3301 SENIOR POETRY WORKSHOP. 4.00 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. Please visit https://arts.columbia.edu/writing/undergraduate for information about registration procedures

Spring 2024: WRIT UN3301
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3301 001/15132 Th 12:10pm - 2:00pm
212a Lewisohn Hall
Emily Luan 4.00 11/15

Poetry Seminars

WRIT UN2311 TRADITIONS IN POETRY. 3.00 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.
Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required. “For those, in dark, who find their own way by the light of others’ eyes.” —Lucie Brock-Broido The avenues of poetic tradition open to today’s poets are more numerous, more invigorating, and perhaps even more baffling than ever before. The routes we chose for our writing lead to destinations of our own making, and we take them at our own risk—necessarily so, as the pursuit of poetry asks each of us to light a pilgrim’s candle and follow it into the moors and lowlands, through wastes and prairies, crossing waters as we go. Go after the marshlights, the will-o-wisps who call to you in a voice you’ve longed for your whole life. These routes have been forged by those who came before you, but for that reason, none of them can hope to keep you on it entirely. You must take your steps away, brick by brick, heading confidently into the hinterland of your own distinct achievement. For the purpose of this class, we will walk these roads together, examining the works of classic and contemporary exemplars of the craft. By companioning poets from a large spread of time, we will be able to more diversely immerse ourselves in what a poetic “tradition” truly means. We will read works by Edmund Spencer, Dante, and Goethe, the Romantics—especially Keats—Dickinson, who is mother to us all, Modernists, and the great sweep of contemporary poetry that is too vast to individuate. While it is the imperative of this class to equip you with the knowledge necessary to advance in the field of poetry, this task shall be done in a Columbian manner. Consider this class an initiation, of sorts, into the vocabulary which distinguishes the writers who work under our flag, each of us bound by this language that must be passed on, and therefore changed, to you who inherit it. As I have learned the words, I have changed them, and I give them now to you so that you may pave your own way into your own ways, inspired with the first breath that brought you here, which may excite and—hopefully—frighten you. You must be troubled. This is essential

Spring 2024: WRIT UN2311
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 2311 001/15123 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
327 Uris Hall
Latif Ba 3.00 17/15

WRIT UN3319 POETICS OF PLACE:AMERICAN LANDSCAPES, VO. 3.00 points.

When the American Poet Larry Levis left his home in California’s San Joaquin Valley, “all [he] needed to do,” he wrote, “was to describe [home] exactly as it had been. That [he] could not do, for that [is] impossible. And that is where poetry might begin. This course will consider how place shapes a poet’s self and work. Together we will consider a diverse range of poets and the places they write out of and into: from Philip Levines Detroit to Whitmans Manhattan, from Robert Lowells New England to James Wrights Ohio, from the Kentucky of Joe Bolton and Crystal Wilkinson to the California of Robin Blaser and Allen Ginsberg, from the Ozarks of Frank Stanford to the New Jersey of Amiri Baraka, from the Pacific Northwest of Robinson Jeffers to the Alaska of Mary Tallmountain. We will consider the debate between T. S. Eliot and William Carlos Williams about global versus local approaches to the poem, and together we will ask complex questions: Why is it, for example, that Jack Gilbert finds his Pittsburgh when he leaves it, while Gerald Stern finds his Pittsburgh when he keeps it close? Does something sing because you leave it or because you hold it close? Do you come to a place to find where you belong in it? Do you leave a place to find where it belongs in you? As Carolyn Kizer writes in Running Away from Home, Its never over, old church of our claustrophobia! And of course home can give us the first freedom of wanting to leave, the first prison and freedom of want. In our reflections on each “place,” we will reflect on its varied histories, its native peoples, and its inheritance of violent conquest. Our syllabus will consist, in addition to poems, of manifestos and prose writings about place, from Richard Hugos Triggering Town to Sandra Beasleys Prioritizing Place. You will be encouraged to think about everything from dialect to economics, from collectivism to individualism in poems that root themselves in particular places, and you will be encouraged to consider how those poems “transcend” their origins. You will write response papers, analytical papers, and creative pieces, and you will complete a final project that reflects on your own relationship to place

WRIT UN3322 WASTE. 3.00 points.

What if we think of writing as waste management? “To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now,” said Samuel Beckett then, famously, but: What does this mean? In this course, we will explore the many ways in which artists and writers have tried to answer this question, not only with waste as a figure for thought but as the concrete and recalcitrant reality of our being. Students will be asked to keep a notebook, with the instruction to keep everything that is for them a signature of thought. In this way, a pinecone or a piece of garbage is as much “writing” as anything else. Together, we will create an archive for the semester, of everything that is produced and/or consumed under this aegis of making. This class is designed to pose questions about form and the activity of writing and, in turn, the modes and methods of production not only as writers, but as persons. In addition to our weekly readings, we will be taking field trips throughout the city, convening with Freegan.info for a trash tour and meeting with the artist in residence at the Department of Sanitation, as well as hosting visitors for additional conversations over Zoom

Spring 2024: WRIT UN3322
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3322 001/18542 Th 10:10am - 12:00pm
212a Lewisohn Hall
Lynn Xu 3.00 16/15

WRIT UN3324 SENSORY POETICS. 3.00 points.

“A writer should have the precision of a poet and the imagination of a scientist” —Vladimir Nabokov “Every word was once an animal.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson How do writers use words to bring whole worlds to life in the senses? Sensory Poetics is a semester-long exploration of how this formal question has propelled the last 150 years of formally innovative poetry, manifestos and essays on craft. Here, we will read by critically and creatively responding to these texts with a single goal in mind: Borrow their methods to compose a dossier of writing that brings just one thing to life in the senses—any one thing—of your individual choosing. To that end, the semester is divided into 3 Labs that each isolate a different register of sensemaking: Sound, Image, and Line. For example, in the Sound Lab unit, you’ll respond to poems and essays by acoustic-centered poets like John Cage, Kamau Brathwaite and Gertrude Stein, transcribing the sound of your one thing, and writing a metered sonnet based on models from different periods and artistic contexts. To capture the look and logic of your one thing, further in you’ll read Surrealists like Aimé and Suzanne Césaire (for Image Lab), Kathy Acker’s cut-ups, and the psychedelic prose poems of Georges Perec and Yoko Ono (for Line Lab). Throughout, we’ll also read Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, a book that is similarly a dossier of one thing written a hundred different ways. Class time focuses on close-reading and analyzing poems together. At the end of each of the three Labs, you’ll submit a portfolio which showcases and reflects on your favorite creative/critical writing generated during the unit. So, no matter how boring or inflexible your one thing may appear to you at any point, your only limits beyond this constraint—make a dossier on one thing—will merely be the finite plasticity of your own imagination, which luckily, readings in this course are curated to expand. This is a place to encounter, practice and experiment with new and exciting forms that broaden your repertoire for articulating your obsessions in ways that bring them to life in the ears, eyes and minds of your audience. Writers of all majors and levels welcome

Spring 2024: WRIT UN3324
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3324 001/18899 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
411 Kent Hall
Holly Melgard 3.00 14/15

WRIT UN3365 21STC AM POETRY & ITS CONCERNS. 3.00 points.

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 and shouldn’t do, both in terms of content and of form, students will investigate their own writing practices, fortify their poetic voices, and create new works that engage directly and confidently with the world in which they are written

Fall 2024: WRIT UN3365
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3365 001/15125 M 6:10pm - 8:00pm
Room TBA
Quincy Jones 3.00 17/20

WRIT UN3321 Ecopoetics. 3.00 points.

“There are things / We live among ‘and to see them / Is to know ourselves.’” George Oppen, “Of Being Numerous” In this class we will read poetry like writers that inhabit an imperiled planet, understanding our poems as being in direct conversation both with the environment as well as writers past and present with similar concerns and techniques. Given the imminent ecological crises we are facing, the poems we read will center themes of place, ecology, interspecies dependence, the role of humans in the destruction of the planet, and the “necropastoral” (to borrow a term from Joyelle McSweeney), among others. We will read works by poets and writers such as (but not limited to) John Ashbery, Harryette Mullen, Asiya Wadud, Wendy Xu, Ross Gay, Simone Kearney, Kim Hyesoon, Marcella Durand, Arthur Rimbaud, Geoffrey G. O’Brien, Muriel Rukeyser, George Oppen, Terrance Hayes, Juliana Spahr, and W.S. Merwin—reading several full collections as well as individual poems and essays by scholars in the field. Through close readings, in-class exercises, discussions, and creative/critical writings, we will invest in and investigate facets of the dynamic lyric that is aware of its environs (sound, image, line), while also exploring traditional poetic forms like the Haibun, ode, prose poem, and elegy. Additionally, we will seek inspiration in outside mediums such as film, visual art, and music, as well as, of course, the natural world. As a class, we will explore the highly individual nature of writing processes and talk about building writing practices that are generative as well as sustainable

Fall 2024: WRIT UN3321
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3321 001/13562 M 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Room TBA
Samantha Zighelboim 3.00 15/15

Cross Genre Seminars

WRIT UN3010 SHORT PROSE FORMS. 3.00 points.

Note: This seminar has a workshop component.

Prerequisites: No Prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.
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 genres emergence, examining the prose poem in 19th-century France through the works of Mallarme, Baudelaire, Max Jacob and Rimbaud. Well 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 2024: WRIT UN3010
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3010 001/15124 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
317 Hamilton Hall
Alan Ziegler 3.00 12/20

WRIT UN3011 TRANSLATION SEMINAR. 3.00 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.
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 arts 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 translators 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 translators note of introduction

Spring 2024: WRIT UN3011
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3011 001/15125 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Bonnie Chau 3.00 10/15

WRIT UN3214 HYBRID NONFICTION FORMS. 3.00 points.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Department approval NOT required.
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 writers 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

Fall 2024: WRIT UN3214
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3214 001/13557 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Room TBA
Margo Jefferson 3.00 15/15

WRIT UN3018 Inhabiting Form: Writing the Body. 3.00 points.

The body is our most immediate encounter with the world, the vessel through which we experience our entire lives: pleasure, pain, beauty, horror, limitation, freedom, fragility and empowerment. In this course, we will pursue critical and creative inquiries into invocations and manifestations of the body in multiple genres of literature and in several capacities. We will look at how writers make space for—or take up space with—bodies in their work. The etymology of the word “text” is from the Latin textus, meaning “tissue.” Along these lines, we will consider the text itself as a body. Discussions around body politics, race, gender, ability, illness, death, metamorphosis, monstrosity and pleasure will be parallel to the consideration of how a text might function itself as a body in space and time. We will consider such questions as: What is the connective tissue of a story or a poem? What is the nervous system of a lyric essay? How is formal constraint similar to societal ideals about beauty and acceptability of certain bodies? How do words and language function at the cellular level to build the body of a text? How can we make room to honor, in our writing, bodies that have otherwise been marginalized? We will also consider non-human bodies (animals & organisms) and embodiments of the supernatural (ghosts, gods & specters) in our inquiries. Students will process and explore these ideas in both creative and analytical writings throughout the semester, deepening their understanding of embodiment both on and off the page

Spring 2024: WRIT UN3018
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3018 001/15456 M 12:10pm - 2:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Samantha Zighelboim 3.00 14/15

WRIT UN3031 INTRO TO AUDIO STORYTELLING. 3.00 points.

It’s one thing to tell a story with the pen. It’s another to transfix your audience with your voice. In this class, we will explore principles of audio narrative. Oral storytellers arguably understand suspense, humor and showmanship in ways only a live performer can. Even if you are a diehard writer of visually-consumed text, you may find, once the class is over, that you have learned techniques that can translate across borders: your written work may benefit. Alternatively, you may discover that audio is the medium for you. We will consider sound from the ground up – from folkloric oral traditions, to raw, naturally captured sound stories, to seemingly straightforward radio news segments, to highly polished narrative podcasts. While this class involves a fair amount of reading, much of what we will be studying and discussing is audio material. Some is as lo-fi as can be, and some is operatic in scope, benefitting from large production budgets and teams of artists. At the same time that we study these works, each student will also complete small audio production exercises of their own; as a final project, students will be expected to produce a trailer, or “sizzle” for a hypothetical multi-episode show. This class is meant for beginners to the audio tradition. There are some tech requirements: a recording device (most phones will suffice), workable set of headphones, and computer. You’ll also need to download the free audio editing software Audacity

Spring 2024: WRIT UN3031
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3031 001/15460 W 12:10pm - 2:00pm
311 Fayerweather
Mallika Rao 3.00 15/20

WRIT UN3036 THE AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE. 3.00 points.

What is an aesthetic experience and what does it tell us about art or about ourselves? An aesthetic experience might be best initially defined as a subjective and often profound encounter with an object, artwork, or phenomenon that elicits a heightened sense of beauty, appreciation, or emotional response. It involves a deep engagement with the sensory, emotional, and intellectual aspects of the object of appreciation. Aesthetic experiences typically involve a sense of pleasure, contemplation, or emotional resonance, and they often transcend practical or utilitarian considerations. These experiences can encompass a wide range of phenomena, literature, natural landscapes, and even everyday objects when perceived with a heightened sense of awareness and appreciation. Aesthetic experiences are highly personal and can vary from person to person based on individual preferences, cultural backgrounds, and emotional responses. For me, an aesthetic experience is both mysterious and confounding—I’m impacted physically as much as it might mentally or emotionally. In the throes of an aesthetic experience, I might feel the small hairs on my arms or on the back of my neck stand up. I might feel nearly ill from a racing heart or my stomach turning. I might feel energized by new thoughts prompted by the experience or feel my heart swell in appreciation and awe. I might also feel a deep sense of recognition—one that connects me to the art object and its maker in a way that transcends time and place. But why do I feel this? Where does this feeling come from? What is really happening?? In this class, we’ll study this question on two levels: 1. A ‘theoretical’ level. Theorists, critics, and philosophers have long tried to understand what it means to have an aesthetic experience. Plato likened this experience to madness, Kant to the sublime; Tolstoy argued the aesthetic experience was a form of communication only accessible through engagement in art. Historians place aesthetic experience within the context of time and culture. We’ll study and discuss theories that have tried to define this mysterious phenomenon. 2. A ‘practical’ level. We’ll also read the work of writers who have puzzled through this question of the aesthetic experience by writing about their connection to a work or body of work by another artist. Often this involves a search to understand the self via the work of another artist. Books: Required books available at Book Culture on 112th Street and Broadway or in course reserves at Butler Library. Several readings will be available for free via our courseworks page. They are indicated on the syllabus as (CW)

Spring 2024: WRIT UN3036
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WRIT 3036 001/18897 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
Mpr River Side Church
Chloe Jones 3.00 13/15