Creative Writing Undergraduate Course Descriptions 

ENGL 3420: Introduction to Fiction Writing (Waugh) 

This introduction to short story writing will help you see all the many things a story is besides what happens. Plot may be “the soul of a tragedy,” according to Aristotle, but it certainly won’t keep your readers if that’s all there is. We will examine why character matters, as well as imagery, description, setting, time, point of view, and sparkling prose, among many other things. By taking this course, you will learn to: 1) use a basic fiction writing vocabulary, 2) identify the core narratological concepts in a work of fiction, 3) recognize the sound and rhythm of good prose, 4) understand and employ various narrative modes and structures, and 5) participate fully and constructively in a workshop oriented class. The success of this workshop depends on your commitment to your writing community, your careful reading of your peers’ work, + your ability to offer sincere, constructive criticism. 

ENGL 3420: Introduction to Fiction Writing (Olsen) 

This is a fiction writing course that is accessible to beginning fiction writers and beneficial to writers who have had practical experience with fiction writing but minimal academic study in the field. The course is workshop-driven (meaning there will be extensive hands-on analysis of student work) but will also feature serious craft discussion and thorough readings of published material to help students better understand how to approach their own work. Students are encouraged to write in genres and styles that interest them. The course is structured as a hybrid with every-other-week in-class meetings that alternate with weeks where we discuss specific issues related to craft and contemporary fiction.  

ENGL 3430: Introduction to Poetry Writing (Grimmer) 

What is creative writing, what are poetics, and when do their modes create potential social change? Is popular music also lyric poetry, and are different modes of language-oriented responses considered poetics? What is the relationship between language, the body, and content, and how are these relationships racialized, gendered, classed, etc.? This course is a workshop-styled attempt to create, read, and respond to multi-modal poetry as politically engaged literature. Readings include print-based poems, craft books and essays such as Don’t Read Poetry by Stephanie Burt, community poetry readings, and viewings of audio-visual texts. Course requirements will include attending select readings online, engaged participation in class discussions, weekly writing assignments, one presentation, and a final creative poetry project. 

ENGL 3440: Introduction to Creative Nonfiction (Engler) 

Introduction to Creative Nonfiction is a course that invites you to explore through writing what it is to be the person that you are in a world full of other people. We experiment with the tools of the nonfiction artist (like scene, character, voice, dialogue, narrative, and reflection) in a workshop-style, supportive, writing community in order to craft powerful memoir and personal essay. Whatever you might discover in your quest to explore humanity, this course gives you the chance to find a compelling way to say it. 

ENGL 3440: Introduction to Creative Nonfiction (Kunz) 

Introduction to Creative Nonfiction will introduce students to contemporary writers within an increasingly hard to define genre. Students will study the narrative approaches and techniques employed by professional writers, while being asked to apply that knowledge to the crafting of their own Creative Nonfiction pieces. Students will work in small group workshops as well as taking part in a whole class workshop.  

ENGL 4420: Advanced Fiction Writing  (Caron) 

In this advanced fiction workshop, students will discover how authors use structure, compression, tension, and other elements of fiction to write stories that move an audience. With this new knowledge, students will craft their own stories. We will pay particular attention to the role of revision in the writing process, approaching it not as an afterthought—something we do when we think our story is done—but rather as a technique that will help us better understand our material. As the writer Peter Ho Davies says, “revision isn’t just a catch-all description for various refinements of craft and style, but a skill in itself, a technique of its own, a state of mind even.” In this class, students practice revision as a technique; develop it as a skill; embrace it as a state of mind. To do this, they will workshop the same story twice, providing us with the opportunity to discuss revision choices. The final portfolio will consist of revised drafts and a reflective essay on the revision process. 

ENGL 4430: Advanced Poetry Writing  (Gunsberg) 

In this workshop-based course, you will explore a wide range of poetry written by both emerging and established authors as well as by members of the class. You’ll enhance the skills you’ve developed in other writing courses by sharing your work in small and large groups, offering written and oral feedback, and by discussing craft essays. Beyond writing and revising individual poems on a weekly basis, you will assemble a final portfolio consisting of your most successful writing.  Because this is an advanced course, you are expected to submit 3-5 of these poems to a literary journal before the conclusion of the semester. 

ENGL 4440: Advanced Creative Nonfiction Writing (Sinor) 

In the advanced nonfiction class, we build on the basics of nonfiction writing that you acquired in the introductory course. It is assumed that you are familiar with the subgenres beneath the umbrella of literary nonfiction, that you know the vocabulary, and that you understand how nonfiction utilizes techniques found in fiction and poetry. This semester we are focusing on form, specifically the diamond-tight magic of the brief essay or flash nonfiction. Not unlike the Great Salt Lake, the short form is the liquid lie of prose. On the surface it appears so easy, so brief, so very drinkable, but, once you wade in deeper, you understand that a reduction in space only heightens the precision required. Think of a bolt of lightning as it rends the dark sky. You have that amount of time to create that amount of beauty and power.