MFA Course Descriptions
CRW 503-001: CREATIVE WRITING PEDAGOGY, BRENNER W
This course doubles as pedagogy seminar and the weekly staff meeting for new teaching assistants (GTA and DIS) teaching CRW 201. The course provides you with a wealth of materials and resources for your teaching career here at UNCW and beyond. Class meetings serve as a forum in which to share and address your ongoing teaching experiences, questions, successes, and challenges. Occasional guest speakers will include experienced TAs and professors. We will also read and discuss a range of articles about pedagogical theory and methods, with an eye toward developing your own teaching philosophy and methodology. You will write one personal essay at semester’s end, reflecting on both your 201 experience and your ideas for future classes.
CRW 523-001: BOOKBUILDING, STAPLES B
This course offers intensive hands-on training in book design and production using desktop publishing technologies. Students develop skills through a progressively more complex series of projects, culminating in a finished chapbook of their own work, in a small edition (which they take with them, along with completed digital files of their work for later reprinting). Students should gain from this course basic software skills, a heightened design aesthetic, and an understanding of how books are built and produced, manuscript to bookshelf.
CRW 524-001: ECOTONE LITERARY MAGAZINE, PHILLIPS A
This is a practical course in the publication of our national literary journal, Ecotone. The coursework will consist of reading submissions and becoming part of an editorial team that will put out an issue of the magazine. We will concern ourselves with the business of running a magazine, including editorial, production, and some design, as well as marketing and, to a certain extent, sales. Editorially speaking, we will divide ourselves into smaller teams early in the semester, based on genre. Everyone will be responsible for reading a number of manuscripts per week, and for contributing to the ongoing practical business of the magazine. Recommended texts: The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition; Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition. MFA students may repeat for credit without limit. Permission of instructor required to enroll; email Anna Lena Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRW 524-002: CHAUTAUQUA LITERARY MAGAZINE, GERARD P
[Permission of Instructor Required] This course is designed to give students a practical magazine publishing experience. Students will read and respond to submissions, work on a developmental editing projects, assist and participate in design process, and act as team leaders, mentoring undergraduate students. In addition to the work required to build the next issue of Chautauqua, students will have the opportunity to work on marketing and sales projects. Students work in teams – with each group presenting regular updates on their projects and work.
Course may be repeated for credit. Variable credit (1 to 3 hours) possible for graduate students.
CRW 525-001: COPYEDITING, PHILLIPS A
This course provides a thorough introduction to the art and craft of copyediting, a skill useful on the job market as well as in substantive editing of both others’ and one’s own work. We will focus on editing for magazine and book publishers—and will thus spend a good deal of time with the Chicago Manual of Style—but we will also consider other settings for copyediting. In addition to marking copy by hand and on screen, we will explore how to create and maintain collegial relationships throughout the editing process, with the goal of improving proficiency in what Carol Fisher Saller calls “working through the writer for the reader.” We will consider levels of editing; freelance and in-house editorial processes; making and using style sheets; effective use of style guides; and the finer points of grammar and usage. Students will be evaluated via quizzes (including editing tests similar to those given by publishers), editing projects, and a final portfolio. Texts: The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition; The Copyeditor’s Handbook, 3rd edition, by Amy Einsohn; the AP Stylebook, 2014 edition; The Subversive Copyeditor, by Carol Fisher Saller.
CRW 540-001: WRITERS WEEK FALL 2014, GESSNER D
This one-credit intensive course was designed to complement Writers’ Week. This year Writers’ Week will feature writers from Ecotone and this class will have an emphasis on writing from place, including some writing exercises focused on place. But most of the work will be practical and focused on preparation for the week, which will consist of workshop sessions, panels, readings, and an individual manuscript conference with one of the seven visiting writers who will be in residence. BFA students will conference with MFA program students or alumni. Students will meet to familiarize themselves with the work of our visiting writers and to learn the ins and outs of organizing the week. As a group, we are responsible for keeping the week itself running smoothly. Class members will participate in the many facets of the week, from introducing the writers at readings to driving them around town. Students are expected to attend a total of 10 event-hours over the course of the symposium.
CRW 542-001: WRITER AS TRANSLATOR: A TRANSLATION WORKSHOP, MORLING M
Octavio Paz said: “Translation is an art of analogy, the art of finding correspondences. An art of shadows and echoes…” Charles Baudelaire said that poetry is essentially analogy. The idea of universal correspondence comes from the idea that language is a micro cosmos, a double of the universe. Between the language of the universe and the universe of language, there is a bridge, a link: poetry. The poet, says Baudelaire, is the translator.”
In this class we will read and compare multiple translations of single poems and examine the choices and strategies of translation. In addition, each student in the class will also provide weekly contributions of his or her own translation of given poems and passages of prose. These translations will serve as focal points for the larger subject of translation, that of the writer as translator. Readings will include selections from Swedish, German, French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Eastern European, Spanish and South American poets and writers. Knowledge of a second language is welcome but not necessary.
CRW 542-001: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP, WHITE M
This will be a traditional workshop offering instruction, support, and dialogue in the craft of writing and revising poems. Our readings will include books by poets from Larry Levis to Tracy K. Smith. Students will write in response to the readings, and we’ll follow customary protocol in verbal and written peer review. We will also focus on the architecture of individual collections, and seek to apply lessons learned to each student’s own aesthetic. Grade will be based 50% on a final portfolio of at least six polished poems, 25% on participation, and 25% on an essay on one of our texts.
CRW 544-001 FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, BENDER K
This workshop will focus on issues of revision, with students turning on one story and revising it over the course of the semester. We will read and discuss participants' work.
CRW 544-002 FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, SIEGEL R
A workshop focused on the reading and discussion of participants’ work. Equal emphasis will be placed on matters of craft and process. MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.
CRW 546-001: WORKSHOP IN WRITING THE NOVEL, GERARD P
This is the first of a year-long two-course suite (with CRW 548) that addresses writing a prose book, either fiction or nonfiction. Students are encouraged, but not required, to take both courses back to back in fall and spring. Texts: On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner and student manuscripts. Novels don’t just spring full-blown onto the page– they rely on a complex architecture of scene and chapter in order to create a sense of expectation and fulfillment for the reader over the long haul. We will address the elements of narrative design in the long form, as well as the indispensable work of preparation, research, and pre-writing that allow for adventure, mystery, and surprise to occur in the actual writing. We will revisit such maligned practices as composing an outline and redefine misunderstood terms such as “suspense” in order to create aesthetic limits within which unlimited artistry is possible. Students will write in a directed way toward their novels– notes, sketches, a declaration that captures the essence of their fascination with the situation of the story, an outline, and at least one chapter. We will also begin the process of developing a book trailer.
CRW 550-001: WORKSHOP CREATIVE NONFICTION, CHAI M
In this workshop, students will have the opportunity to explore the rich possibilities of creative nonfiction in multiple forms. Students will receive feedback on their original works of creative nonfiction in a traditional workshop format. We will also discuss and analyze works by established writers of literary journalism, memoir, personal essays, lyric essays and other works to look at technique, aesthetics, and narrative choices. In addition to writing exercises and critique letters, students will turn in two original works of creative nonfiction and one significant revision.
CRW 550-002: WORKSHOP CREATIVE NONFICTION, GESSNER D
This is a workshop in creative nonfiction with a special emphasis on writing about place. We will explore the role that writing about places--sometimes natural places, sometimes not--can play in writing personal essays and memoir. For nonfiction writers who are stuck for a subject, place often unlocks other topics and deeper concerns. Places and words have always been intertwined and for some writers turning their minds to a specific place they care for—a home, a patch of woods, a beach—can prove a reliable muse.
At the same time, writing about deeply knowing a place can make us feel a little mystical, even silly. As the great Alaskan writer John Haines said: "To express a place in art we need to take certain risks...we need intimacy of a sort that demands a certain daring and risk: a surrender, an abandonment." Or as Barry Lopez puts it, we need to “become vulnerable to a place."
We’ll attempt this in our work and our reading.
CRW 560-001, 002: PUBLISHING PRACTICUM: LOOKOUT BOOKS, SMITH E
[Prerequisite: CRW 523 and permission of instructor.] A select group of graduate students supports the work of Lookout Books (www.lookout.org). The practical course functions primarily as an internship at a small literary press and provides hands-on experience in evaluating manuscripts, copyediting, proofreading, designing book interiors and pitching cover concepts, publicity, social media management, marketing, grant writing, and producing promotional materials for the imprint. [MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.]
CRW 580-001: WOMEN POETS AND THE PULITZER PRIZE, ADAMS L
We will examine the work of numerous celebrated poets, beginning with selected readings by early winners of this prestigious prize, and culminating with the more recent full-length collections. Texts will include the following: Mueller, Alive Together; Sexton, Live or Die; Kumin, Up Country; Oliver, American Primitive; Kizer, Yin; Dove, Thomas & Beulah; Glück, The Wild Iris; Emerson, Late Wife; Trethewey, Native Guard; Smith, Life on Mars; Olds, Stag’s Leap. Grade will include two analytical essays (midterm and final), as well as oral presentations.
CRW 580-002: YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE, DE GRAMONT N
In this course, we will read classic and contemporary Young Adult novels from Judy Blume to Laurie Halse Anderson. We’ll discuss the novels paying special attention to craft and content, as well as how work geared toward teens differs from work geared toward adults. In addition to in-class exercises, students will write an outline and sample chapters for their own Young Adult Novel.
CRW 580-003: CROSSROADS: RACE, CULTURE & SOUTHERN LITERATURE, EDGERTON C
We will read non-fiction and fiction sources related to our topic. Included will be histories, documentary works, novels, short stories and essays.We will also view selected films, conduct interviews with several authors of the works we read, and take field trips.Finally, after discussions and analysis, we will write essays about the topic and these essays will be included in a collection produced by the class.
CRW 580-004: TRAVEL NARRATIVES: THE ART OF THE JOURNEY, CHAI M
This mixed-genre class will examine the narrative art of depicting journeys in creative nonfiction, poetry, fiction, and film, including works by Joan Didion, Lixin Fan, Gao Xingjian, Roxane Gay, lê thi diem thúy, Julie Otsuka, W.G. Sebald, and Luis Alberto Urrea, among others. We will read/watch and discuss the works, analyzing them for craft, content, and aesthetic sensibilities. Students will also have opportunities to respond with their own short, creative pieces to experiment with form and genre.
CRW 501-001: RESEARCH FOR CREATIVE WRITERS, GERARD P
Research is a creative process in its own right that not only helps authenticate a piece of writing but also can yield new possibilities for projects in all genres. We will explore not only the conventional tools of research-- e.g. the interview and the print archive-- but more imaginative and unconventional methods of finding out public or personal information that yields exciting creative opportunities. Each student will design a research agenda tailored to his or her work in progress. Such work may be new to the class or a continuation of a project already begun. Our focus will be both practical and aestheticClass sessions will include discussion of methods, planning, and reporting on the progress of various research activities. Each student will present a final project-- a partial or completed manuscript, depending on genre and scope -- that incorporates research conducted during the course. Such a ms. might be a cycle of poems, a portion of a novel, a short story, a personal essay, or some other form determined in consultation with the instructor.
CRW 524-001: ECOTONE LITERARY MAGAZINE, PHILLIPS A
[Permission of instructor required.] This is a practical course in the publication of our national literary journal, Ecotone. The coursework will consist of reading submissions and becoming part of an editorial team that will put out an issue of the magazine. We will concern ourselves with the business of running a magazine, including editorial, production, and some design, as well as marketing and grants research. We will divide ourselves into smaller teams early in the semester, based on genre. Everyone will be responsible for reading a number of manuscripts per week, and for contributing to the ongoing practical business of the magazine. In addition, each student will subscribe to one of a set of print literary magazines and will follow one online-only magazine. Recommended texts: Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition; The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.
CRW 524-002: CHAUTAUQUA LITERARY MAGAZINE, WILSON H
This course is designed to give students a practical magazine publishing experience. Students will read and respond to submissions,work on a developmental editing projects, search for possible cover art, and assist with design work. In addition to the work required to build the next issue of Chautauqua, students will have the opportunity to work on marketing and sales projects. We will work in teams – with each group presenting regular updates on their projects and work.
Course may be repeated for credit. Variable credit (1 to 3 hours) possible for graduate students.
CRW 525-001: SPECIAL TOPICS: COPYEDITING, PHILLIPS A
This course provides a thorough introduction to the art and craft of copyediting, a skill useful on the job market as well as in substantive editing of both others’ and one’s own work. We will focus on editing for magazine and book publishers—and will thus spend a good deal of time with the Chicago Manual of Style—but we will also consider other settings for copyediting. In addition to marking copy by hand and on screen, we will explore how to create and maintain collegial relationships throughout the editing process, with the goal of improving proficiency in what Carol Fisher Saller calls “working through the writer for the reader.” We will consider levels of editing; freelance and in-house editorial processes; making and using style sheets; effective use of style guides; and the finer points of grammar and usage. Students will be evaluated via quizzes (including editing tests similar to those given by publishers), editing projects, and a final portfolio. Texts: The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition; The Copyeditor’s Handbook, 3rd edition, by Amy Einsohn; The Subversive Copyeditor, by Carol Fisher Saller.
CRW 530-001: SCREENWRITING, HACKLER C
This course is an introduction to the art and craft of screenwriting. Students will develop an original story idea, create a plot outline, and write and revise the first act of a feature screenplay. The course will cover such topics as characterization, goal, conflict, and dramatic structure, and will include a series of exercises designed to help you develop and write motion picture scripts.
CRW 542-001: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP, COX M
Though it is essentially a craft-oriented workshop wherein poets will critique and encourage each other's work, I am also planning to make room for a number of in-class writing exercises. I will tailor these exercises in process and revision to the group’s needs. I will provide individualized reading lists. Student products will include a portfolio of nine finished poems, plus revision drafts. The journal will consist of: a) responses to reading assignments in modern and contemporary poetry and poetics; b) process exercises; and c) extensive research into a craft concept of your choosing.
CRW 542-002: BOOK LENGTH POETRY, MESSER S
The second-half of a year-long course, run as a workshop, focusing on your own writing. This second-half will focus on shaping, revising, and polishing a completed manuscript. At the end of the semester we will also discuss where to send out your book and how contests, presses, etc. work for poets.
CRW 542-003: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP with visiting writer A. Van Jordan (1 credit)
CRW 543-001: FORMS OF POETRY, WHITE M
To some extent, this course will proceed as a tour of major received forms and traditions. As a way of studying both English language and international received forms such as blank verse, the sonnet, the ghazal and the pantoum, we will read poems and essays, and then write original poems and prose in response. Although each student will master prosody and write distinctively and successfully in each form, this class will not be about learning the “rules,” but about how to understand, assimilate, and cultivate some of the magical properties of poetic form in one’s own writing. Each student will write six poems in six different poetic forms (to be workshopped in class), as well as a craft essay on a poetic tradition of your choice.
CRW 544-001: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, SACHS D
Through close reading of published fiction and in-depth analysis of individual student work, this class will focus on both the creation of new fiction and the task of revising it. Students will submit two pieces of fiction, either short stories or selections from novels, which the class will then discuss in a workshop setting. The semester will culminate in students submitting a substantial revision of one of these pieces.
CRW 544-002: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, LEE R
CRW 545-001: FORMS OF CREATIVE NONFICTION BRENNER, W
This is a reading & discussion course (an elective, not a writing workshop) in which we will explore narrative methods, strategies, decisions, effects, etc. in recently published creative nonfiction and some documentary films, with an eye toward how we might borrow and incorporate techniques in our own work.We’ll focus primarily on memoir, autobiography, and biography (both short- and long-form), though many of the texts we’ll consider don’t fall easily into any category. Books will include Was This Man A Genius? (Julie Hecht), Truth & Beauty: A Friendship (Ann Patchett), Autobiography of a Face (Lucy Grealy), Goat (Brad Land), The Orchid Thief (Susan Orlean), Pulphead (John Jeremiah Sullivan), The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup (Susan Orlean), Working (Studs Terkel), and Edie: An American Girl (Jean Stein and George Plimpton). Films may include Moving Midway, Capturing The Friedmans, Catfish, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and various Errol Morris selections. Students will write one long personal essay in response to the course materials, due at semester’s end.
CRW 547-001: FORMS OF FICTION, DE GRAMONT N
In this course, we will read and discuss novels with attention to content and style, paying particular attention to the way long form fiction has evolved over the years. Students will write responses analyzing the novels in terms of craft and also write short creative exercises responding to the novels.
CRW 548-002: WORKSHOP, WRITING THE NOVEL II, EDGERTON C
The is the second semester of a two-semester course. By the end of this semester you will have a draft of a novel or nonfiction book (if you already have a first draft—a later draft).Among potential class activities--in addition to workshopping chapters and scenes are:discussing your novel’s plot, scenes, characters, and theme;discussions of literary theory;discussion of technique in fiction;discussions of readings;dramatic reading of scenes.
CRW 550-002: GRADUATE WORKSHOP IN CREATIVE NONFICTION, BRENNER W
This is a traditional workshop-format course in which student work is our primary text. Students will hand in a minimum of two pieces of creative nonfiction (essays, chapters, excerpts) for discussion, critique, and/or conference w/ instructor. I am especially interested in the potential and possibilities of your work, and in locating those moments that feel most urgent and unforgettable for the reader, what makes an editor have no choice but to publish it, what makes a piece of writing feel alive and full of heart. We will also read recently published short works of creative nonfiction, distributed in class. Goals in the class are two-fold: to provide feedback, mentoring, and support for individual students and their projects, and to illuminate issues of narrative craft, form, and technique in general.
CRW 550-003: CREATIVE NONFICTION WRITING WORKSHOP with visiting writer Hope Edelman (1 credit)
CRW 560-001,-002: PUBLISHING PRACTICUM: LOOKOUT, SMITH E
[Prerequisite: CRW 523 and permission of instructor.] A select group of graduate students supports the work of Lookout Books (www.lookout.org). The practical course functions primarily as an internship at a small literary press and provides hands-on experience in evaluating manuscripts, copyediting, proofreading, designing book covers and interiors, publicity, social media, marketing,grant writing,and producing promotional materials for the imprint. MFA students may repeat for credit without limit.