Amaranth C. Borsuk
Inquires into basic elements of creative writing that occur in multiple genres and media. Studies and practices writing in a workshop atmosphere.
Beginning writers are often encouraged to find their own voice: to discover what it is that defines their unique style and perspective and to write from that place. This injunction is founded on the assumption that you know who you are and what it is you want to say. But does creative writing always have to be about the self? What about riddles and word games, personae, unreliable narrators and fictional worlds? In this introductory creative writing course, we will explore poems, stories, and dialogues, taking the conundrum of voice as an entry into the discovery of your own creative process. We will examine issues including the relationship between self and society, the dynamic between the author and the persona he or she adopts, the reliability of the subjective narrator, and how nuances of language, imagery, metaphor, tone, setting, subject matter, character development, and humor help writers create a specific voice. By learning to recognize and analyze these techniques in others’ work, you will begin to develop a "voice" of your own.
Student learning goals
To develop daily habits of writing and reading
To cultivate an engagement with language and a sense of play
To learn techniques for close reading texts that can be applied to both published work and peer review
To learn to review classmates’ work with a generous and constructive spirit
To explore literary techniques for creating a speaker, whether self or non-self, across genres
General method of instruction
We will meet twice a week for workshops in which we will discuss the readings, critique student work, and try in-class exercises.
Students will write in established forms and create some of their own, finding ways to play with the voices that permeate American literature and culture, from Amazon reviews to tweets.
No previous writing experience is necessary, but students taking this class should be prepared to devote time and attention to the reading, participate actively in class, and complete assignments on time.
Class assignments and grading
Students will write weekly short responses to the readings, keep a writing journal, and complete a series of creative experiments to be workshopped in small groups in class. As a final assignment, students will turn in a portfolio of revisions along with their quarter-long journal.