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Fall 2013 Courses

The following courses are open to students registered in the MFA Program. Some space may be available to English MA students by permission of Lauren Grodstein.

Fiction Writing
56:200:517:01 M 6:00-8:40
This workshop is for writers of both short stories and longer forms. We’ll look at your work in the time-honored fashion, with a focus on ways of thinking about revision: Keep going to “see how it turns out” or fine-tune first? How much should you know about the story before you start? In other words, we’ll delve into the mysteries of process: care versus abandon.

Fiction Workshop
56:200:518:01 M 3:00-5:40
In this course, students will submit short stories and novel excerpts for peer and professorial critique, and be responsible for the criticism of their classmates’ writing.

Poetry Workshop
56:200:519:01 Th 6:00-8:40
In this course we’ll consider various composition and revision strategies in poetry, using both published models and writing generated by class participants. We’ll explore the poem as argument (in Yeats’ articulation of it), risk, and the invention of the self.

Creative Nonfiction Workshop
56:200:529:01 T 6:00-8:40
This Nonfiction Workshop, heavily reliant on peer review, will focus on the methodology of revision, employing various techniques for accessing one’s material. Students will submit either works-in-progress (e.g., essays or chapters from memoirs) or new material generated for this course.

Craft: Translation
56:200:562:01 T 6:00-8:40
Cross-listed with 56:350:395:01
Translation and revision appear vastly different activities. Are they? During the twentieth century poets often explored the act of translation as a means of “revising” the original in order to master it and own it, the result being an entirely new thing—a super-original, But what is translation—paraphrase, metaphrase, simple imitation—or revision as creative trespassing ? Is translation a public service, satisfaction of personal need, mere play—or all three? The course explores translation in its conventional sense and as the “creative adaptations” of original works by looking closely at the work of Pound, Zukofsky, Lowell, Bly, and others. Along with a look at translation theory (and a guest lecturer on the subject), the readings will include poems by Yeats, Pound’s Cathay and Homage to Sextus Propertius, Zukofsky’s  “homophonic” translations of Catullus, In addition each weekly session include a look at famous revisions of canonical work by poets and fiction writers who have attempted to “translate” their own work, through revision, into something better and often vastly different—and sometimes worse. How do we revise? When is the revision inferior to the original? When stop revising? The course is designed for any student of literature with an interest either in creative writing or scholarship (or both) and in the pedagogy of the writing workshop.  During the course of the semester members of the class will perform their work to the class, produce translations from an original language or complied through the translations of others, and present examples of how an original work evolved through the stages of revision.

Craft: Point of View
56:200:568:01 T 3:00-5:40
In this prof’s humble opinion, point of view is the least understood–and perhaps most important–tool in the fiction writer’s kit. In this class, we’ll get supple in differentiating different kinds of third person narration, discuss the strengths and limitations of first and second person points-of-view, and experiment with changing point of view in our own writing. Some critical writing (including Wayne C. Booth’s The Rhetoric of Fiction), some craft exercises–and lots and lots of passages to parse, both classic and contemporary.

Special Topics in Craft: The Short Story
56:200:571:01 Th 6:00-8:40
In this class we’ll take a close look at several collections to consider recent trends in the story. What do these narratives suggest about our moment, and how do they distinguish themselves from the stories that have preceded them? Do they embody new ways of seeing? How is perception embedded in syntax, sound, and architecture? We’ll discuss work by Junot Diaz, Sam Lipsyte, Alice Munro, and George Saunders along with lesser known writers. We’ll use this inquiry to evaluate the submissions of the StoryQuarterly Fiction Contest, which we’ll also talk about as part of class. Requirements will include a creative work in response to one of the above-named writers.