MFA Course Descriptions
CRW 524-001,-003,-004: ECOTONE LITERARY MAGAZINE, PHILLIPS A L
Permission of instructor required. This is a practical course in the publication of our national literary journal, Ecotone. The coursework consists of reading submissions and becoming part of an editorial team that will put out an issue of the magazine. 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 the realms of editorial, production, marketing, research, and some design. Students will also have the opportunity to write posts for the Ecotone/Lookout Books blog. In addition, we will cultivate an understanding of where Ecotone sits in the literary landscape: students will read and review at least one prior issue of Ecotone, subscribe to and review a print literary magazine, and follow and review an online-only magazine. Ecotone student editors should register for 524-003. 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 JOURNAL (1-3 credits), GERARD P
This course is designed to give students a practical magazine publishing experience. Students will read and respond to submissions, work on editing and fact-checking, tackle marketing/sales issues, and provide leadership for an undergraduate team. Each team will present regular updates on their projects and work. Course may be repeated for credit.
CRW 525-001: DEVELOPMENTAL EDITING (SPECIAL TOPICS IN PUBLISHING), PHILLIPS A LThis course provides an introduction to the art and craft of developmental editing, a skill useful on the job market as well as in improving one’s own writing. We will focus on editing for nonfiction, fiction, and poetry for magazine and book publishers. Topics will include proposal development, narrative, argument, and voice, as well as editing for style and substantive editing at the line level. We will explore how to create and maintain collegial relationships throughout the editing process, and work to gain an understanding of how developmental editing fits within the publishing process overall. Students will be evaluated via individual and group editing projects and a final portfolio. Course texts will include Developmental Editing, by Scott Norton, and the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition.
CRW 542-001: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP, WHITE M
This will be a hybrid workshop offering instruction, support, and dialogue in the craft of writing and revising poems. The course will adopt an ekphrastic theme, although the term will be taken broadly. We’ll read and write poems and/or other forms that are inspired not only by paintings, but also by film, sculpture, and other arts. The emphasis will be to see, to engage, to hold aesthetic discourse, and we’ll move beyond the workshop to include museum and studio visits, film viewings, and a public reading. Grade will be based 50% on a final portfolio of finished work and 50% on participation.
CRW 542-002: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP, MORLING M
In this poetry workshop we will focus on the process of writing, the different ways of analyzing a poem and on how to listen with an open mind to a critique of your own work. We will focus on the process of revision and discuss the many approaches and ways to revise a poem. Is it possible for instance, to approach a revision the way one would a translation? How do you transform a poem without destroying its urgency and original spirit? How do you arrive at a poem in its ultimate form? Everyone is required to submit a raw and freshly written poem every week. The aim of this class is also for everyone to learn to become comfortable bringing in poems that are rough without making excuses for them.
CRW 542-002: POETRY WRITING WORKSHOP with Aimee Nezhukumatahil (1 credit)
CRW 544-001: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, EDGERTON C
CRW 544-002: FICTION WRITING WORKSHOP, DE GRAMONT M
In this class, students will work on craft through close reading of each other’s fiction in a workshop format. Students will write two new and original pieces for workshop and revise one of these pieces substantially. Reading assignments will be based on issues that arise during workshops.
CRW 545-001: FORMS OF CREATIVE NONFICTION, CHAI M
In this class, we will be reading multiple forms of creative nonfiction in order to explore the exciting and varied possibilities of the genre. We will be reading personal essays, narrative journalism/research literary nonfiction, memoir, graphic memoir, lyric essays, and prose poetry. We may also examine several documentary films. This class will primarily focus on reading and discussing the assigned works in depth. There will be a few short writing exercises so that students may write creative responses as well as a reading responses that critically analyze the works and a final essay. Writers studied include Alison Bechdel, Sherman Alexie, Maxine Chernoff, Donna de la Perrière, Joan Didion, Mahvish Kahn, Jamaica Kincaid, David Sedaris, and Patti Smith, among others.
CRW 547-001: FORMS OF FICTION, LEE R
CRW 548-001: WRITING THE NOVEL II, GERARD P
This course builds on the foundation laid by CRW 546: Writing the Novel I.* The goal is for each member of workshop to produce a solid beginning of a viable novel (fiction or nonfiction) then to exploit that beginning with several chapters of lively, original writing that advances the story and its themes– both text and subtext. Whether this particular novel ultimately succeeds or fails, the goal is to get far enough along in this course that the writer can and will finish it, thus learning how to handle the arc, scope, and scale of the long form of narrative prose. Each writer in class will hand in working drafts of the opening chapter (s) and at least one other significant passage from the novel-in-progress. There is no precise word count, but shoot for something in the neighborhood of 10,000- 15,000 words (40-50 pages) total. Attached to the first handout should be your one-sentence logline of the main focus of the novel. Each student will also turn in two copies of signed, written comments– one to the author whose work is under discussion, the other to the instructor.
*A student who has not taken 546 may enroll with instructor’s permission; please contact instructor prior to the end of Fall semester.
CRW 550-001: GRADUATE WORKSHOP IN CREATIVE NONFICTION, GESSNER D
The theme of this workshop is “Just Write.” We are going to focus on putting pen to page, with minimal reading and maximum time spent actually writing. To this end one hour of each class will be dedicated to either writing prompts or individual writing projects, with a maximum of two workshops per class. We will keep track of our weekly output through recording either our hours or page production. There will be reading but it will be self-assigned, with a focus on books that can serve as models and/or inspirations.
CRW 550-002: GRADUATE WORKSHOP IN CREATIVE NONFICTION, HOLMAN V
In this workshop-based class, students will submit two new works of creative nonfiction. Creative nonfiction is a flexible form, and submissions may include memoir, lyric/hybrid forms, familiar essay, reportage, etc. Workshops will address issues of craft as well as hidden possibilities. The instructor will provide short readings throughout the semester that address specific issues of craft, and offer exercises to encourage new work and experimentation.
CRW 550-003: GRADUATE WORKSHOP IN CREATIVE NONFICTION with Patricia Hample (1 credit)
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 boutique 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: BORDER CROSSINGS: CONTEMPORARY TRAVEL WRITING, SIEGEL R
What is travel writing? How do we define it? Does travel have to be geographic, for example? Or can it be cultural or social—vertical, rather than horizontal? This course explores travel writing of the last thirty years, with particular interest in the way boundaries blur and aesthetic strategies multiply as the genre explodes outward in a globalizing world. Readings include fiction and nonfiction by Ben Lerner, Nell Freudenberger, Pico Iyer, Liao Yiwu, and others. One creative project.
CRW 580-003: NARRATIVE METHODS IN FILM, BRENNER W
In this course we will spend the great majority of our time watching and discussing films, primarily but not exclusively documentaries, focusing on how their narratives (stories) are shaped, how narrators and characters earn our sympathy (or not), and other issues relevant to writing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. We'll also read playwright Sarah Ruhl's new book,100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write. One personal essay due at semester’s end. Films will likely include the following: Capturing The Friedmans, Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, Moving Midway, The Eyes of Tammy Faye,The Red Shoes, A Matter of Life and Death, Altman’s Three Women, De Palma’s Sisters, and Errol Morris’s Fast, Cheap, & Out of Control. Note: This course is as an elective, not a workshop. The course does not include screenwriting.
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.