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Creative writing courses


Below are course descriptions for some of the workshops being offered this academic year.

Engl. 225/3/A: Introductory Poetry Workshop (2019-20)
Instructor: Gillian Sze
Monday and Wednesday: 11.45-13.00

This is an introduction to writing poetry, reading and critiquing poems, and developing our craft. Over the course of the school year we will learn useful vocabulary, poetic forms, techniques, and practical skills when editing and publishing. In the first semester, we will spend time building our “poetry toolkit” via readings, writing exercises, short lectures, and group discussions. The aim is to provide a common critical language that will provide a crucial foundation for the second half of the course, when we discuss our own poetry in workshops. During the workshops, students will be expected to submit their work (based on a scheduled rotation), receive criticism, as well as provide oral and written comments for their peers. Assessment will be based on regular attendance, preparation and participation, timely submissions, and a final portfolio.


Engl. 225/3/B: Introductory Poetry Workshop (2019-20)
Instructor: Mary di Michele
Tuesday and Thursday 13.15-14.30

“I want to write poems clear as a glass of water that turn out to be gin.” Andrew Motion

How do you want to write poems? This is an introductory course in the reading and writing of poetry designed to help you find out by familiarizing you with the traditions and innovations behind contemporary poetic practice and so help you begin to formulate a working and vital standard for your writing; to study poetic techniques and through completing and discussing exercises acquire a common critical language with which to comment on poetry as well as the language tools to write well; and to develop the ability to distinguish personal preference from a sense of excellence. The second semester will be run as a full workshop where students submit their poetry, on a rotating basis, to the class. The critical language garnered in the first semester will be applied to oral and written critiques of these submissions.


ENGLISH 226/3/A: Introductory Fiction Workshop (2019-20)
Instructor: Terence Byrnes
Tuesday and Thursday: 11.45-13.00

English 226 is an introductory workshop in prose fiction reading, writing, and evaluation. The term "prose fiction" covers a variety of forms but we will often concentrate on the short story, while being open to the writing and discussion of longer (and shorter) forms. Throughout much of the fall term, we will study published fiction, and some non-fiction, from a writer’s point of view. Our goals are to understand the points at which different genres merge and diverge, and to evaluate narratives on their own terms rather than on the reader’s personal likes or dislikes. Toward the end of the fall term, we will begin to workshop original fiction written by members of the class. This will continue to the end of the year.


ENGLISH 226/3/AA: Introductory Fiction Workshop (2019-20)
Instructor: Mikhail Iossel
Monday: 18.00-20.15



ENGLISH 226/4/B: Introductory Fiction Workshop (Winter, 2020)
Instructor: Josip Novakovich
Monday and Wednesday: 14.45-17.30 p.m



English 227/3/A: Introductory Playwrighting Workshop (2019-20)
Instructor: Kate Sterns (Fall), TBA (Winter)
Monday and Wednesday: 10.15-11.30

Wright is the archaic form of the word builder and my approach to playwrighting is in keeping with that idea of craft. Our first semester will be spent learning the relevant terms (plot, action, character etc.), both through writing exercises and by studying published texts (from Sophocles to Stoppard and beyond!). In the winter semester, you will begin to convert theory into practice by ‘wrighting’ your own one-act play.



English 227/3/B: Introductory Playwrighting Workshop (2019-20)
Instructor: Greg MacArthur
Tuesday and Thursday: 10.15-11.30



ENGLISH 342/3/A: Advanced Fiction Workshop (2019-20)
Instructor: Mikhail Iossel (Fall), TBA (Winter)
Tuesday: 8.30pm-11.00pm

The main objective for this seminar course is to help you strengthen your grasp on the craft of fiction. You are all at the stage where you have written stories before, you already know what a good story looks like, and I will treat you -- as you will no doubt treat each other -- as respected peers. The primary course material for this class will be your own work. Each class we will workshop at least one of your stories. We will be doing some free-writing in class, and reading a wide range of stories pertinent to the ongoing class discussion. This class’s primary objectives will consist of helping you understand the basics of prose writing and the difference between its genres, familiarize you with the various approaches to the craft of writing and its essential techniques – and, in all, get you started along the path of realizing your own potential as writers.



ENGLISH 342/3/AA: Advanced Fiction Workshop (2019-20)
Instructor: Josip Novakovich
Wednesday: 18.00-20.15


ENGLISH 342/3/BB: Advanced Fiction Workshop (2019-20)
Instructor: Sina Queyras
Thursday: 18.00-20.15

There is no one approach to writing prose, but there are elements that make for great work. In this course we will encounter a wide range of practices within the genre—from the most classical to the most experimental. Each week we will read, discuss, and write about new texts and student work, identifying key, successful elements. Our investigations will create a common critical vocabulary and form the basis of our workshop. As well as presenting work in class, students will produce a portfolio that includes a selection of prose work as well as a body of creative critical work. Writers we read will include, but are not limited to: Ottessa Moshfheg, Sheila Heti, Sally Rooney, David Chariandy, Thomas King, Eden Robinson, Eimear McBride, and Dionne Brand.

ENGLISH 344/2/A: Advanced Playwriting (Fall, 2019)
Instructor: Greg MacArthur
Monday and Wednesday 1.15-2.30

Building on the ideas in Introductory Playwriting, this course will examine the role of the playwright in today’s world, focusing primarily on recent trends in postdramatic writing. Through play readings and analysis, in-class exercises and discussions, we will look at writing techniques used by some of the world’s most progressive playwrights and creators (verbatim, found text, autobiography, adaptation) and explore how they can be used to build performance texts. Some of the writers / creators will include: Caryl Churchill, Martin Crimp, Theatre Replacement, Young Jean Lee, Nature Theatre of Oklahoma, Tim Etchells, Jackie Sibblies Drury. The main focus of the course will be the creation of a full-length playscript that students will conceive, write, workshop, and dramaturg over the course of the semester. Students will come away with a deeper understanding of current trends in playwriting, new play development, and the writers and creators who are pushing this theatrical form into the 21st century.


English 347/2/A: Creative Non-Fiction (Fall, 2019)
Instructor: Terence Byrnes
Tuesday and Thursday: 14.45-16.00

Given the freewheeling and inclusive history of the form called “creative nonfiction,” (CNF) our workshop will define it as a factual narrative that may include personal history and essay. As with all good writing, the CNF narrative brings to our attention something that deserves to be there, that finds meaning in the events it recounts, or imposes meaning on those events through the way they’re observed. As with any accomplished narrative, CNF is mindful of character, place, development, and language. There is no assigned text for the course, but there is an extensive on-line reading list.



ENGL 348/3/A Creative Writing: Advanced Poetry Workshop (2019-2020)
Instructor: Sina Queyras
Wednesday 14.45-17.30

Students of this advanced poetry workshop will be required to produce writing on a weekly basis. We will spend the bulk of our time reading and discussing student generated work. Students will develop tools for a sustainable creative practice, engage in writing experiments and learn to present our work in print and performance. The first semester will focus on experiments and creative play and the second semester will be spent working on an extended project. Poets will be required to attend literary events over the year. Reading list will include Lisa Robertson, Dionne Brand, AE Stallings, Alice Notley, Claudia Rankine, The Odyssey trans. Emily Wilson, Anne Carson’s Antigonick, The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem, a course pack, and several literary journals including The Capilano Review, The London Review of Books, and Poetry magazine.


ENGISH 348/3/B Creative Writing: Advanced Poetry Workshop (2019-2020)
Instructor: Stephanie Bolster
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10.15-11.30

This workshop aims to create a community of active writers and readers who desire to make conscious macro and micro elements of their poetry and poetic practice. Discussions of critical readings on craft, process, and career (by such poets as Anne Carson, Erin Mouré, Louise Glück, Robert Hass, Mary Ruefle, Solmaz Sharif, Reginald Shepherd, and Matthew Zapruder), and of poems and possibly poetry collections, will supplement the workshop process. During the winter term, we will focus on writing longer poems and/or series. Assessment will be based on a final portfolio of 12 pages of revised poetry, two essays or presentations, regular attendance, timely submissions, class participation and preparation, and creative development.


ENGLISH 416/4/A: The Solo Play (Winter, 2020)
Instructor: Greg MacArthur
Monday and Wednesday: 11.45-13.00

The solo play emphasizes audience-performer communication and direct address. It is generally presented in a smaller, more intimate space. This creates a shared space, a shared story through a single performed voice. For the purpose of this workshop, the solo play will be understood to be a play written for a single actor who may play one or more characters.

This workshop will focus on the nature, structure, and practice of writing solo works for the stage.


ENGLISH 428/3/A: Children’s Literature (2019-20)
Instructor: TBA
Tuesday-Thursday: 11.45-13.00 p.m

We will look at a range of children’s picture books, considering what story topics and treatments best suit the audience and the market for these books. We will look at how text and illustration and book design work together to present stories to be read aloud. Then we will write and workshop stories, aiming them towards publication.



ENGLISH 429/2/A: Genre Fiction (Fall, 2019)
Instructor: Kate Sterns
Monday-Wednesday: 1.15-14.30

This class will explore the conventions associated with various modes of genre fiction (the mystery, the ghost story or horror story, and science fiction among others), along with their literary antecedents, and their present day counterparts (including in film, TV, and video games).
There will also be a significant writing and workshop component to this class.


ENGLISH 429/2/AA: Writing for Media: Screenwriting (Fall, 2019)
Instructor: Greg MacArthur
Tuesday: 18.00-20.15

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the high demand for this course, ENGL429/4/BB will be a repeat of ENGL429/2/AA. Students who have taken the fall course are therefore NOT eligible to register for ENGL 429/4/BB.


ENGLISH 429/4/BB: Writing for Media: Screenwriting (Winter, 2020)
Instructor: Greg MacArthur
Tuesday: 18.00-20.15

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the high demand for this course, ENGL429/4/BB will be a repeat of ENGL429/2/AA. Students who have taken the fall course are NOT eligible to register for ENGL 429/4/BB

This introductory course in screenwriting will focus on the principles and techniques of writing for film. We will look at the technical and creative elements specific to this medium, including: terminology, formatting, narrative structure, character and plot, genre, theme and audience reception. Working with industry textbooks (Robert McKee’s Story, Syd Field’s Screenplay), the examination and analysis of published screenplays, and various in-class writing exercises, students will come away with an understanding of the basic processes and techniques of how to generate, pitch, write and develop a screenplay. The course will culminate in the creation and development of a complete screenplay for a short film.


ENGLISH 429/4/B: Advanced Studies in Creative Writing: Feminist Futures Cross-Genre (Winter, 2020)
Instructor: Sina Queyras
Monday: 14.45-17.30

Out of the chaos something must rise, why not a feminist future? In this class we’ll write into the midst of our climate crisis and imagine ways to be our best radical presence while dreaming possible futures. Authors read and discussed will include: Juliana Spahr, Jorie Graham, Franny Choi, Larissa Lai, Ursula K. Leguin, Marge Piercey, Octavia Butler, Monique Wittig, Renee Gladman.  




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