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COURSE NAME: "Literature and Creative Writing: How to Read Like a Writer "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2018

INSTRUCTOR: Elizabeth Geoghegan
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 1:30-2:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above
OFFICE HOURS: by appointment

This is a reading and writing intensive course. Students in 200-level literature classes are required to produce 4-5,000 words of critical writing.
To supplement their traditional university study of composition and literary analysis, this course provides students with the opportunity to develop skills at reading literature as a source of help in improving their own writing. Designed primarily for students interested in creative writing, this course focuses on the reading of literature from the point of view of the practice, or craft, of fiction writing.
Designed primarily for undergraduates interested in creative writing, this course examines seminal examples of fiction by James Baldwin, Lucia Berlin, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O’Connor, and other writers, exploring the works from a craft perspective as a means to help students improve their own writing.

Alongside the other texts, students will use Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer to help develop their skills as readers of literary fiction with an eye to emulating the skills of accomplished writers. This course is based on the assumption that writers, out of necessity, read literature differently from critics. While critics, scholars, and students of literature typically read to understand or interpret a text, writers read with an eye to emulation of craft. Writers, to learn from their successful predecessors, read meticulously--letter by letter, word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, line of dialogue by line of dialogue, page by page.



Through the study of Francine Prose’s technique of slow, meticulous reading, students completing this course will have developed the reading skills necessary to learn how to improve their own writing, in particular their creative writing, as well as becoming fluent in the unique stylistic and craft characteristics of the fiction they read.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The Complete StoriesFlannery O'ConnorFarrar Staus Giroux ISBN-10: 0374515360 Available at Almost Corner Bookshop in Trastevere; UK edition of same title is also fine. NO ELECTRONIC COPIES -- students must have text
A Manual For Cleaning WomenLucia Berlin Picador ISBN-10: 1250094739 Available at Almost Corner Bookshop in Trastevere; UK edition of same title is also fine. NO ELECTRONIC COPIES -- students must have text
Jesus' SonDenis Johnson PicadorISBN-10: 031242874X Available at Almost Corner Bookshop in Trastevere; UK edition of same title is fine. NO ELECTRONIC COPIES. Students must have text.
Reading Like A WriterFrancine ProseHarper Perennial ISBN-10: 9780060777050 Available at Almost Corner Bookshop in Trastevere; UK edition of same title is also fine. No electronic copies. Students must have text to attend class.

PresentationsStudents are required to make presentations to the class during the term25%
Midterm PaperStudents are required to write a midterm paper for the course25%
Final Term PaperStudents are required to write a final paper for the class; this will be a close reading of one of the texts/authors. Details TBD. 30%
Participation & HomeworkStudents are required to participate in daily discussions of the selected works and to participate inin all classroom activities, as well as complete all in-class and out-of class (homework) exercises and assignments. Quizzes may also apply. 20%
Literary EventsIn lieu of final exam, students will attend 2 literary events and write a response paper. 10%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

Students are required to attend all scheduled class meetings. Students are allowed two absences during the summer term.  Each additional absence beyond the two allowed, with the exception of absences excused by the Dean's office, will result in the reduction in the final grade for the course by 5%.  Students arriving to class after attendance has been taken will be counted as late.  Two late arrivals will count as an absence. Students using electronic devices or telephones in class may be counted as absent. Please refer to the JCU catalog for the attendance and absence policies.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


COURSE SCHEDULE:This is a provisional schedule. Specific due dates and additional assignments and reading materials will be made available the first day. “Text” refers to Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose. Other readings will be named by author and title. Readings that are not from the required texts, they will be provided for you. 

Week 1: Syllabus distribution & Course Intro to Close Reading, Words, and HemingwayReading:  Text Ch. 1 “Close Reading” & Hemingway "Indian Camp" &  "Cat in the Rain" & "Hills Like White Elephants" (Handouts)

Week 2:  Sentences Reading: Text Ch. 2 “Words” & “Sentences”  & Flannery O'Connor "A Good Man is Hard to Find" 

Week 3:  ParagraphsRead Text Ch. 4 Paragraphs & Flannery O'Connor: “Good Country People” & "Revelation" 

Week 4:  Student Presentations Student Presentations on a selected Flannery O'Connor Story; each student will select a different story. Those not presenting must read the stories and participate in presentation by asking questions. Guidelines TBD

Week 5: Dialogue & Intro to Lucia BerlinRead: Text Ch. 7 Dialogue  & Lucia Berlin "Angel's Laundromat" & "Tiger Bites" & "Carmen" & In Class Writing

Week 6: Narration Read Chapter 5 Narration & Lucia Berlin "Point of View" & "Mijitto" & "Manual For Cleaning Women"

Week 7: CharacterRead: Text Ch. 6 "Character" & Lucia Berlin "Let Me See You Smile" & "So Long"

Week 8 Midterm Papers Due (on Berlin), Introduction to Denis Johnson; read Denis Johnson "Emergency"

Week 9 Voice Read Denis Johnson "Car Crash While Hitchhiking & "Dirty Wedding"
In Class Writing

Week 10 GestureRead Ch. 9 Gesture & James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" (Handouts) 
 & In Class Writing

Week 11: Learning from Chekov & Student PresentationsRead Text: Ch. 11 Learning from Chekov & Chekov's "The Lady with the Lap Dog" & "The Kiss"

Week 12: Reading for CourageRead Ch. 11 Reading for Courage & Workshop Students' Creative Work

Week 13: Reading Like Writers: Workshop Student's Creative Work

Week 14: Final Close Reading  Papers Due