Special Topics Writing Courses 2018-2019



Writing 3901F:  You're a Strange Animal: Writing Nature, Writing the Self

Fall Section 001 Syllabus

Nature is a slippery fish. In this course, we will use poetry, fiction and non-fiction to capture (and release) some of the fundamentals of nature writing. We will write about nature, in nature. Campus will be our classroom. We will spend about half of our time exploring natural (and not so natural) features of Western Campus: hissing geese, tree species, birds of prey, groundhogs, creepy-crawlies, green spaces, parking lots, taxidermized animals in the basement of Natural Science, the river, the food court, the football field. You will need the following: notepad, pen, sturdy footwear, a sense of adventure.

Writing 3901G: The Art of the Personal Essay

Winter Section 001 Syllablus

People love telling their own stories. The personal narrative in all its forms, from blogs to travel essays, memoirs to short snapshots into our lives, is an ever-more popular style of writing.

Good personal essays tell stories using all of the creative elements of good fiction – narrative structure, character development, strong scenes, vivid imagery, figurative language, and more. It’s been said that “the hallmark of the personal essay is its intimacy” and “the personal essay has an open form and a drive to candor and self-disclosure” (Philip Lopate, The Art of the Personal Essay).  But the self-disclosure of a personal essay is not simply of the confessional kind – as authors our stories must resonate with readers’ experiences of their own humanity.  Together we will explore the art of writing personal essays by reading and studying strong examples of this kind of creative non-fiction, reading articles and books about the craft of writing personal essays, writing our own personal essays, and reading and commenting (in writing and orally) on one another’s writing.

Writing 3902G:  Creating Youth:  Writing for Young Adults

Winter Section 001 Syllabus

In this course, we will consider the art and craft of writing for young adult readers. We will begin by reading and discussing a range of texts written for young adults. The purpose of the reading will be to discover and examine principles of craft, paying particular attention to narration, character development, and style. As we read, we’ll consider the differences and similarities between great YA literature and great adult literature. We will then write literature for young adults, completing a variety of assignments and in-class workshops, commenting on one another’s work. Our goal is to complete several pieces geared specifically to young adult readers. Assignments may include: novel pitch, short fiction piece, a novel chunk, and poetry collection.

Writing 3903G: Macabre Manuscripts: Horror Fiction

Winter Section 001 Syllabus

This course teaches students how to author and successfully market creative projects that traverse horror’s various subgenres. This includes how to navigate the different distribution models for horror today, from book publishing and screenwriting to short stories and even podcasting as the latest version of horror as scripted audio performance.