Spring 2012 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
The ‘best’ creative works may be the best for various reasons. An aesthetic masterpiece may surprise us, intrigue us, invite insight. It may enable us to stand in for someone who is similar to or different from ourselves, or experience a world that is familiar or one which seems not our own. It may cause us to notice, or encourage us to appreciate, sympathize, empathize, question, judge or withhold judgment. It may catch us unawares with worded vision: the beauty of nature, a crafted object, a perfect stranger, or it may stir us with the power of our language: a shining detail, a beautiful sentence, a luminous paragraph or descriptive passage. The ‘best’ creative writing explores what it means to be human, the ways in which we find and lose ourselves, the ways in which we understand and misunderstand each other, the ways in which we reach out or withdraw through our senses and nonsenses.
All that being said, how do we come to know more about ourselves and to better think and express ourselves and our aesthetic goals through creative writing? How do we become better persons—better readers, better thinkers, and better writers? ‘Intro to Creative Writing’ will primarily focus on creative works of Short Fiction and Poetry with a cursory look at Creative Non-Fiction. Since knowledge has been classed as declarative (what you know) and procedural (what you do with what you know), the organization of each class and the organization of the grading structure will take both into account. Thus, we will come at these genres through two modes: careful reading of other successful artists, and practice through emulation and innovation. Each class will begin with a discussion of the particulars of the outside readings. Your failure to answer questions will reflect in your final grade. We will then discuss the crafting aspects of form and content, technique and style pertaining to these readings. Next, we will move to the workshop portion in which each student assigned for the day will read briefly from the creative work, and the other students and I will respond critically to the work through expressions of interpretations, successes, confusions, suggestions, and so forth.
I encourage you to submit finished pieces to journals at the end of the semester for publication, as well as to UTD’s REUNION: The Dallas Review online graduate competition.
• Woods, James. How Fiction Works. NY: FSG, 2008. ISBN 978-0374-17340-1
• Bausch, Richard, and R. V. Cassill, eds. The Norton anthology of Short Fiction, 7th Ed. NY: Norton, 2006. ISBN 978-0-393-92611-8 (NOT THE SHORTER 7th Ed.)
• Perrine, Laurence, and Thomas R. Arp, eds. Sound and Sense, 8th Ed. Harcourt Brace: Ft. Worth, 1992. ISBN 978-0-155-826106 -- any addition 8th – 12th is okay.
• Ferguson, Margaret, Mary Jo Salter, and Jon Stallworthy, eds. The Norton Anthology of Poetry, 5th Ed. NY: Norton, 2005. ISBN 978-0-393-979206
• Wiman, Christian. Every Riven Thing. NY: FSG, 2010. ISBN 978-0-374-15036-5
Recommended: A Grammar Guide of some sort. A rhyming dictionary of some sort.
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Emulations, Imitations, Innovations (Assignments) 15%
Short Fiction- 1st & Final Drafts 15%
Poetry - 1st & Final Drafts 15%
Critiques of Peers’ Work 15%
(I will use the +/- system in grading as stipulated by The UTD Undergraduate Catalogue, 2010-12.)
Requirements include attendance, submission of new creative work that has been meticulously proofread (spelling, grammar & sentence structure DO matter to me), engaged participation in all critical discussion, generous written commentary on your peers’ stories and poems, and the submission at term’s end of a final portfolio.
All work is due the class period assigned on the syllabus (excepting Saturday submissions).