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Catalog

Fine Arts in Writing Courses

MFA  600 - The First Person: Autobiographical Writing (1 - 3)

A six-week intensive that explores how writers across the genres of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry transform personal experiences and perspectives into a work of art by finding the right form for the idea. Exploring work in all three genres, the course analyzes how form serves meaning in literary works and in students’ own writing. Required first course for all students. Offered in the summer preceding the first school year.

MFA  612 - Writing Workshop I (3)

The first of four workshops in long fiction, short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Students share their writing and critique the writing of other students working in their genre. Offered in the Fall.

MFA  622 - Writing Workshop II (3)

The second of four workshops in long fiction, short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Students share their writing and critique the writing of other students working in their genre. Offered in the Spring.

MFA  632 - Writing Workshop III (3)

The third of four workshops in long fiction, short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Students share their writing and critique the writing of other students working in their genre. Offered in the Fall.

MFA  642 - Writing Workshop IV (3)

The fourth of four workshops in long fiction, short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Students share their writing and critique the writing of other students working in their genre. Offered in the Spring.

MFA  650 - Word for Word: The Texture of Language (3)

Examines the inventive use of diction, syntax, punctuation, and cadence by writers in all genres. Students study the impact of language use on literary meaning and apply new linguistic strategies to their own writing. Offered in the Spring.

MFA  651 - Developments in the Novel (3)

Emphasizes a variety of traditions in long fiction. Historical developments may include the picaresque, social or psychological realism, stream of consciousness, the nouveau roman, and postmodernism. By studying works of long fiction, students discover the forms and craft elements best suited to what they want to express. Offered in the Fall.

MFA  653 - Research for Writers (3)

This course is a practical introduction to research techniques and strategies for writers of literary prose. Designed for nonfiction and fiction writers, its fundamental objective is to teach students how to conduct print and first-person research and to understand exactly how such research will benefit their writing. Writers of historical fiction, novels, memoirs, nonfiction narratives, and essays will find the strategies covered in this course germane to their work.

MFA  654 - Contemporary American Poetry (3)

The American tradition in poetry is explored, from Whitman to the present, with a focus on the historical development of poetic thought. The course follows shifting ideologies and social contexts, and examines the way literary schools and counter-influences charge each other, helping to create a new American poetry for the modern era. Students read both the poetry and poetics of selected authors, and work toward a final paper exploring their own poetics. Offered in the Fall.

MFA  655 - The Architecture of Prose (3)

A study of narrative structure, examining authors' strategies for building arcs of conflict, sustaining tension, pacing sequences of action, and achieving a sense of closure. By examining a range of literary models, students learn to plot the architecture of their own full-length manuscripts. Readings include works that adhere to a traditional narrative arc as well as those that use the arc as a point of departure. Offered in the Spring.

MFA  661 - Evolution of the Short Story (3)

Concentrates on varieties of the short story as exemplified by masters of the form. Readings are drawn from a wide range of short fiction in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature. Students read these literary models to gain an understanding of the form, and to apply what they learn to their own craft. Offered in the Fall.

MFA  662 - Contemporary Experiments in Fiction (3)

A study of experimental and radical approaches to fictional prose, encouraging students to take risks in their own writing. The emphasis is on writers who work against rather than within convention, and how they make meaning out of their departures from convention. Assigned readings make use of multiple perspectives, discontinuous narratives, and disrupted chronologies. Readings are drawn from writers around the world. Offered in the Spring.

MFA  664 - Poetry International (3)

This course examines major developments in modern world poetry by looking at a range of literary traditions and historical contexts of non-English-speaking poets. Though most work is read in translation, reference to original languages is encouraged. Students work on translating from chosen languages, and the class examines both the problems and the excitement of reading beyond one's borders. Offered in the Spring.

MFA  670 - Intention and Design in Prose (3)

This course examines how a writer¹s plans for prose narratives develop from idea to sketch to final draft. Close examinations of finished literary works in fiction and nonfiction are augmented by the writer¹s letters, essays, notebooks, preliminary drafts, and other aesthetic statements. Students investigate how sensibility is expressed by craft, with an emphasis on the process of composition and revision.

MFA  671 - Techniques of Long Fiction (3)

What do we mean when we speak of the modern novel? This course engages students in close readings of several twentieth-century novels, examining how the shape of each novel works in conjunction with its meaning. Topics for discussion include the reliability of narrators, the ambiguity of endings, and the dominance or dissolution of plot. Offered in the Fall.

MFA  672 - The Craft of Short Fiction (3)

Focus is on the structures of short stories and novellas, looking closely at certain writers' approaches to narrative conflict, point of view, imagery, voice, and story length. The course helps students to appreciate the restraints imposed and the liberties conferred by forms of short fiction. Offered in the Fall.

MFA  673 - Truth, Ethics, and Memory (3)

What are the elements that make nonfiction writing creative? This course rehearses a variety of modes that contribute to making fact-based writing dynamic. Examples of memoir, travel writing, nature writing, history, criticism, and letters are used, augmented by creative techniques associated with fiction and poetry. Offered in the Fall.

MFA  674 - Prosody: The Meaning of Poetic Form (3)

An in-depth study of poetic elements, with an eye to the history and evolution of poetic forms. The class will look at the organizing principles of syllable, stanza, and line; of stress, meter, rhyme, and a variety of countings, as well as contemporary explorations of fragmentation, interruption, chance, and silence. Readings will be drawn from the ancients as well as from postmodern contemporaries, and will demonstrate a range of structural elements, both classical and radical. Offered in the Fall.

MFA  675 - Teaching Writing (3)

A study of the methods, theory, and practice of teaching creative writing. Topics for discussion range from the philosophy of teaching to more specific issues such as designing a course, choosing class materials, responding to student writing, and meeting course objectives. The basic elements of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry writing are studied for the purpose of teaching across genres.

MFA  679 - Thesis I/II (3)

Students work with an individual Major Project Instructor to formulate, plan, and execute the Major Project. Consultation with a Program Advisor is required. Offered in the Summer.

MFA  680 - Style in Fiction (3)

This course explores the unique qualities that comprise an original style, and the relationship between form and content. Students conduct in-depth readings of novels and short stories in order to identify and employ the tactics used by prose stylists in fiction. Attention is also paid to the multicultural influences which affect a writer's stylistic choices. Offered in the Spring.

MFA  681 - Blurred Boundaries: Writing Beyond Genre (3)

MFA  682 - Foundations of Nonfiction (3)

This course traverses three centuries of literary nonfiction, affording students an opportunity to learn about the rich heritage of the genre. A wide range of reading demonstrates the suppleness of the form and helps students to discover possibilities of subject and approach available to them as writers of nonfiction prose. Readings may extend from Daniel Defoe to Jamaica Kincaid, including diaries, speeches, meditations, journals, and monologues. Offered in the Fall.

MFA  683 - The History of Nonfiction (3)

This course focuses on the history and development of the essay as a creative form. Included are a variety of modes: personal essays, portraits, lyric meditations, cultural investigations, and persuasive manifestos. Students learn to apply the structure and techniques of description, exposition, reflection, narration, and argument to their own short essays. Readings range from classical to contemporary and may include book-length collections.

MFA  684 - Narrating Nonfiction (3)

This course focuses on a range of strategies for building longer nonfiction narratives: scene and dramatic structure, reflection and analysis, chronology and character, and the role of the narrator. Readings emphasize contemporary complete works, including memoir, narrative journalism, and other book-length forms.

MFA  686 - Poetics (3)

The study of Visionary Poetries, focusing on Romantic, Mystical, and Ecstatic traditions from the Biblical era to the contemporary period. Students will examine texts and literary philosophy that encourage transcendental loss-of-self as a foundation of poetic practice, and adapt strategies for their own writing. Offered in the Spring.

MFA  687 - Point of View and Characterization (3)

An investigation of how literary fiction attains depth, and how complex layers of meaning converge in a single novel or novella. This course encompasses works noted for their psychological, social, intellectual, and spiritual import. Students undertake the study of this fiction to help them develop and advance thematic strains in their own writing. Readings include works in translation as well as those written in English. Offered in the Spring.

MFA  688 - Finding Form: Novellas and Story Cycles (3)

This course is a study of two ¿in-between¿ forms in fiction: the story cycle (or ¿collection of linked stories¿ or ¿novel in stories¿) and the novella (or ¿long story¿ or ¿short novel¿). It offers models and strategies for writers interested in how plans for a novel might be compressed, conceptually and actually, into the novella, and for writers ready to multiply their short stories into a larger cycle. Means for finding the appropriate form for given material are developed, with attention paid to the evolving needs of character, setting, imagery, and theme.

MFA  689 - Thesis I (3)

Students work with individual Major Project Advisors to formulate, plan, and begin to execute the Major Project. Consultation with the director of the program is required. Offered in the Summer.

MFA  690 - Special Topics (3)

These courses emphasize particular aspects of literary craft. In Intention and Composition, students examine the ways in which writers' conscious plans for their work are conceived in diaries, letters, and interviews, and how these intentions are realized in the final product. In The Architecture of Prose, emphasis is placed on strategies for developing complexity as well as breadth in full-length works of prose. Topics vary from year to year.

MFA  691 - Constructing the World:Time/Sp (3)

MFA  692 - Contemporary Int'l Fiction (3)

This course emphasizes the literary techniques employed by contemporary international fiction writers and may also reference classic works of the late twentieth century. Studying both long and short fiction, students will examine the strategies writers use to render a social world, whether in the form of realism, magical or fantastic realism, or metafiction, and consider how literary influence traverses cultural borders and is shaped and re-shaped in the process. Students will apply what they learn to their own creative work.

MFA  698 - Directed Reading (1 - 3)

Written permission of the instructor, department chair, and dean is required. Offered intermittently.

MFA  699 - Thesis II (3)

Students work with individual Major Project Advisors to complete the Major Project. Consultation with the director of the program is required. Offered in the Summer.