Creative writing courses


English 225/3 A: Introductory Creative Writing: Poetry

Fall 2022/Winter 2023
Instructor: Alexei Perry Cox
Monday and Wednesday: 11:45-13:00

This workshop is built around developing (via close reading) the art and act of recognition in relation to the reading and writing of verse. We will expand and nurture a lexicon for examining, complicating, and thinking about how poems work and thrive, not only as crafted objects, but also in relation to the contexts they seek to explore and the questions and issues they raise. Our main task is to learn how to recognize a poem’s unique goals and ambitions, and then cater our critique according to those objectives, becoming both better readers and writers en route. In this way, there are no overarching rules that can apply to any specific poem, but rather, each piece will receive idiosyncratic responses in relation to its aspirations. Equally, this class places heavy emphasis on the development of your individual practice and methods as an artist, which will help lay the vital foundation for a long-sustained, and enriching life of writing and thinking on poetry

English 225/3 B: Introductory Creative Writing: Poetry

Fall 2022/Winter 2023
Instructor: Alexandra Pasian
Tuesday and Thursday: 1:15-2:30

The main focus of this course is to encourage workshop participants to engage with poetic traditions and consider how they craft their work. While autobiography can be an important part of a writer’s trajectory, this course is intended to allow students to write into the larger world. To that effect, we will be reading and responding to work by such poets as Danez Smith, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mary Ruefle, Cameron Awkward-Rich, Layli Long Soldier, Franny Choi, Paul Tran, Hannah Emmerson, Kaveh Akbar, and others. We will be focusing on poetic technique and expanding our understanding of poetry. In addition, we will also spend class time engaging in writing exercises as well as discussions about developing our community. Evaluation will be based on reading responses, presentations, and two portfolios of work.

English 226 A: Creative Writing: Introductory Fiction Workshop

Fall 2022/Winter 2023
Instructor: Mikhail Iossel
Mondays 2:45 – 5:30 pm

This seminar will be divided into two parts: during the first semester, in parallel with reading and analyzing many broadly representative short stories by a variety of international authors, we will be concentrating on the very nature and essence of prose writing, its main objectives, methods and techniques. Beginning with the second semester, the class will start discussing and analyzing the students’ own stories, following the typical writing workshop model (participants present their original work, which subsequently gets analyzed and critiqued by the group, led by instructor). 

The seminar’s primary objectives will consist of helping the students understand the difference between the different genres and modes of prose writing, become familiar with the various approaches to the craft of writing and its essential techniques.

English 226-AA: Creative Writing: Introductory Fiction Workshop

Fall 2022/Winter 2023
Instructor: Josip Novakovich
Tuesdays 6-8:15 

An introduction to writing fiction. The first half of the course covers the elements of fiction and writing techniques exemplified in published stories. You will be introduced to the range of possibilities in fiction: short story (various lengths, micro, short, long), novel (chapters), cross-genre (prose-poem), true story (memoir or journalism), and different genres (fantasy, crime, sci-fi, literary, etc.). We will do a variety of exercises and assignments based on these texts in preparation for the second half of the course to be conducted mainly as a writing workshop, with participants presenting their original work for class discussion and feedback, with advice for further development and revision. You will gain a sense of what works in your prose as well as in the prose of your peers, developing not only writing skills but also editorial skills, which are essential for revising and improving works in progress.

English 226 B: Introductory Creative Writing: Fiction

Fall 2022/Winter 2023
Instructor: Dimitri Nasrallah
Tuesday and Thursday: 10:15-11:30

This course introduces aspiring writers of fiction to the core techniques and devices useful to writing successful short stories. The short story is a microcosm of technical skill that has evolved through the diligence and talent of writers working across centuries. In this course we will learn that new writers do not work in a vacuum; rather, they work with or against the skills, insights, and discoveries of those writers who came before them.

Students will be introduced to the terminology and concerns of the writing craft, while getting an opportunity to apply their own creativity within various writing exercises and the short story form. Participants will also read and provide feedback on the writings of their classmates, as well as the works of published authors. We will look at fiction through the lens of narrative tools: structure, tone, perspective, plot, irony, description, pace, and character. We will learn the uses and parameters of the devices at a writer’s disposal.

By the end of this course, students will have a better sense of how to read and write fiction using a writer’s lexicon

English 226/4/C: Creative Writing: Introductory Fiction Workshop

Winter 2023
Instructor: Kate Sterns
Monday and Wednesday: 2:45-5:30

The Introductory Workshop is designed to introduce elements of the craft of fiction writing (structure, character, POV etc.). We begin with the study of published texts alongside an engagement with targeted, in-class exercises. These are intended to help students develop their stories, from first idea through to a revised draft. Later in the semester, students will engage in peer review via the workshop model.

English 227/3 A: Introductory Creative Writing: Playwriting

Fall 2022/Winter 2023
Instructor: Brian M. Peters
Monday and Wednesday: 10:15-11:30

This introductory workshop will expose students to the various ways we can think about writing plays. The fall term will focus on reading parts of four foundational plays (an act or two) to understand how the structure(s) and plot of a play can work. We will focus on storylines, character development, conflict, text/subtext, language/symbolic language, setting(s) and stage direction, as well as the kinds of important ideas that can move a play forward and hold a given play together. Writing exercises will take place throughout the fall term (based on the points above) to lead up to a play-pitch. The winter term will feature workshop time for students, active peer review of student work, and the revision/refining of a play manuscript. At the end of the term the student will submit a final draft of their play manuscript (10-15 pages).  

English 227/3 B: Introductory Creative Writing: Playwriting

Fall 2022/Winter 2023
Instructor: Alexandria Haber
Tuesday: 2:45-5:30

This introductory class is designed to introduce elements of the craft of playwriting (structure, character, dialogue, stage directions and terminology) in a practical way.  The course will also introduce the idea of a writing practice: what that is, how it will benefit you as a playwright and how to make it work for you.  We will read and discuss established plays and texts, alongside  targeted writing exercises.  The first semester will primarily be focused on writing exercises to inspire creativity and generate ideas, culminating in a character monologue which will be workshopped in class. The second semester will be focused on writing a short one-act play.  The class will be run in a workshop format; students will engage in peer review via the workshop model. Throughout the semester there will be class visits from established playwrights. The final two weeks of the winter semester will be devoted to a “mini play-reading festival”.

English 342-AA: Creative Writing Fiction, Advanced Workshop, 

Fall 2022/Winter 2023
Instructor: Josip Novakovich
Thursdays 6-8:15

A workshop to advance your fiction writing skills upon the foundation of the elements of fiction introduced in E226. We will survey a variety of techniques in published fiction to explore craft possibilities in a range of forms and approaches: micro-fiction, short story, novella, novel chapter; realistic and psychological fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, genre fiction, and cross-genre, such as prose-poem, true story (personal essay), and graphic novel. You will critique your peers’ fiction, and they will critique yours, and thus you will gain insight into what works and what needs improvement in your prose, and moreover, you will develop editorial insights and skills by observing what works and what doesn’t in the workshopped manuscripts. We’ll also survey writing as a profession—how and where to publish short fiction and novels as well as how and where to continue your training as a writer if you so choose, in an MFA program here or abroad or on your own, in a cabin in the woods, or wherever.

English 342/3/A: Creative Writing: Advanced Fiction Workshop

Fall 2022/Winter 2023
Instructor: Kate Sterns (Fall only)
Wednesday: 11:45-2:30

This class is designed to advance the work of your introductory workshop. In the first semester, the focus is on the creative process. This will involve a mixture of exercises—focused on specific elements of craft and applied to your works-in-progress— in conjunction with a regular series of workshops.

Please note: In the winter semester, the course will be taught by Professor Sina Queyras. Students enrolling in this course should therefore be open to different models of pedagogy, which we hope will result in an engaging, and constructive, class experience.

Instructor: Sina Queyras (Winter only)

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 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: Sheila Heti, Octavia Butler, Sally Rooney, Annie Ernaux, Lydia Davis, Rachel Cusk, Renee Gladman, Jamaica Kincaid, Anne Carson, Ocean Vuong and Dionne Brand.

Note: Sina Queyras will only be teaching the second half of this class.

English 342/3 B: Creative Writing: Fiction

Fall 2022/Winter 2023
Instructor: Claire Holden Rothman
Monday and Wednesday: 10:15-11:30

This course continues the work of the introductory fiction workshop, and aims to help you develop your skills in reading and writing fiction.  It also aims to cultivate an eclectic community of writers equipped to support each other’s creative work and to share insights about craft. Over this year, you will write two stories in any genre and submit them to your peers for close reading and discussion. You will also revise both of these stories using exercises provided by the instructor. Strong writing is mainly rewriting, and this workshop offers hands-on training in revision. Your submitted works-in-progress constitute our primary reading material, but this will be supplemented by critical essays on craft by writers like Flannery O’Connor, James Wood, David Grossman, and Margaret Atwood. Published fiction by Sally Rooney, John Cheever, Daphne Palasi Adreades, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and others will also be read and discussed. In addition to writing your own stories, you will be expected to offer ongoing thoughtful and respectful written and oral commentary about the fiction of your peers, using a lexicon of craft terms we will develop throughout the year. Practical issues like submitting your stories for contests and publication, and giving readings will also be explored.

ENGL 347/4/B: Creative Non-Fiction Writing

Winter 2023
Instructor: Dimitri Nasrallah
Tuesdays and Thursdays 14:45-16:00

This course introduces aspiring writers to the particular approaches and narrative devices useful to writing successful creative non-fiction.  Creative non-fiction, from literary journalism to memoir to the personal essay, blends real-life experiences with literary device. The genre prioritizes personal truths and accepted facts, though the techniques of structure and perspective are employed much like in fiction to enhance emotional, thematic, or atmospheric response. Students will be introduced to the development and concerns of this literary category, while getting an opportunity to apply their own creativity within various writing exercises and the literary journalism/personal essay form.  Participants will also read and provide feedback on the writings of their classmates. We will look at all presented works through the lens of narrative tools, and we will learn the uses and parameters of the devices at a writer’s disposal, even as we address truths. Readings include James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Tom Wolfe, David Sedaris, Sheila Heti, Vivek Shraya, and Dionne Brand.

English 348/3/A: Creative Writing: Poetry

Fall 2022/Winter 2023
Instructor: John Emil Vincent
Monday: 11:45 am – 2:30 pm 

This course requires that its students are already comfortable with workshop dynamics. Toward making you better writers, we will work to refine your readings of and responses to a wide variety of poems (not only contemporary poems, Canadian poems, nor poems of a single aesthetic no matter how hegemonic).  Reading is as necessary an aspect of poetry writing as workshopping. Reading and responding to others' poems -- your peers, your contemporaries, your predecessors -- powers your writing. It expands the field of your practice if not also your world. All this is needful preparation for the most important part of the course: you writing your best and most powerful poems. As the course moves forward, we will hone in on your current project and attempt to follow that rabbit to its warren.

English 348/3/B: Creative Writing: Poetry

Fall 2022/Winter 2023:
Instructor: Stephanie Bolster
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:15 – 11:30 am

This workshop aims to create a community of active writers and readers who desire to make conscious – with a view to creative and technical development – macro and micro elements of their poetry and poetic practice. Although the primary reading material will be the participants’ own poetry-in-progress, we will spend class time discussing critical readings on craft, process, and career by such poets as Anne Carson, Camille Dungy, Louise Glück, Robert Hass, Erin Mouré, Carl Phillips, Alberto Ríos, Mary Ruefle, Solmaz Sharif, Tracy K. Smith, and Matthew Zapruder. During the winter term, we will focus on writing longer poems and/or series. Time will be devoted to such practical issues as giving readings and submitting work for publication. Participants should be prepared to provide detailed, considered, and respectful written and oral critiques of each other’s work and to be active in class discussion. 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 384/3 A: Creative Writing: Playwriting

Fall 2022/Winter 2023
Instructor: Alexandria Haber
Wednesday and Fridays: 1:15-2:30

This class is designed to carry you further along on your journey as a playwright. The primary focus of this class will be the creation of a full-length play which will be workshopped in class. The class will be run in a workshop format.   Alongside peer review and discussion, we will use established texts and tailored exercises that focus on the issues that arise as we workshop your plays.

We will also explore what makes a play a play, different styles of playwriting and reveal your own specific voice as a playwright.

There will be class visits from established directors, designers and actors to inform students how a play is seen and read by the key players involved in getting a play from the page to the stage. Please note:  Workshopping first drafts will begin in the fourth week of class. Students are therefore expected to present an outline of their proposed play by the second week of classes.

English 417/3 A: Writing for Media: The Writers’ Room

Fall 2022/Winter 2023
Instructor: Alexandria Haber
Wednesday and Fridays: 11:45-1:00

In this course we will explore creating and writing for television/web series.  We will discuss and put into practice: concepts, treatments, characters, loglines, beats, teasers, story structure and pitches. In the first semester, the class will be divided into several “writers’ rooms”. Using the steps outlined above, each writers’ room will collectively create a premise for a tv show. We will go through all of the steps from conception to outline and by the end of the semester you will pitch your show. In the second semester, the focus will be writing a spec script/ sample episode of an existing television show.  We will often work in small groups and engage in a LOT of writing/brainstorming ideas in class. To help inspire and inform your writing, there will also be class visits scheduled throughout the year with industry professionals: television and screenplay writers and creators.

English 429/2/A, Advanced Studies in Creative Writing: Writing for Young Adult Audiences

Fall 2022
Instructor: Kelsey Blair
Tuesday and Thursday: 11:45am - 1:00 pm

In this course, we work with different types of writing for children and teens. In the first half of the course, we will learn some of the principles of writing for youth. We will also read books for children and teens, and experiment with writing for different age groups (children, middle-grade, young adult). In the second half of the course, students will have the opportunity to focus on a project of their choice, to share their work with peers, and to workshop the work of others. Evaluation will be based on completion of short writing exercises, short in-class presentations, attendance, participation and workshopping of work, and the creative development of final project.

English 429/4/AA, Advanced Studies in Creative Writing: WRITING FEATURES/LITERARY ESSAYS FOR MAGAZINES 

Winter 2023
Instructor: Taras Grescoe
Mondays: 18:00 - 20:15

This course will explore the process of writing a “longread,” or in-depth feature, for online and print magazines, literary journals, and newspapers, from initial idea to the final editing and fact-checking, and beyond to negotiating the public response to the published article. The emphasis will be on literary journalism, also known as creative or narrative non-fiction—the broad realm that John McPhee refers to as “the literature of fact.” We’ll discuss the process of developing ideas, writing pitches, contacting and interviewing sources, effectively using libraries and databases, working with editors, outlining, choosing narrative strategies, and getting to a final draft. I’ll examine some outstanding examples of longform journalism spanning the history of the genre, and students will be exposed to podcasts, broadcast interviews, documentaries, and guest speakers. Students will be asked to write an analysis of one of the readings, do an interview, write a short profile based on the interview, and finally write a “longread,” a 3,000-4,500-word feature article that incorporates the techniques of the “literature of fact.”

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