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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "CW 350"
COURSE NAME: "Creative Writing Workshop: Fiction "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2019
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Elizabeth Geoghegan
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 3:00-4:15 PM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above
OFFICE HOURS:

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
The course aims to develop the creative, editorial, and reading habits needed for the production of literary fiction; to develop self-editing skills; and to foster an aesthetic sensibility for use in writing literary fiction. Students will read both contemporary literary fiction and materials related to analyzing and editing literary fiction and participate in a traditional creative writing workshop through in-class writing exercises, reading classmates' fiction, and producing and workshopping their own fiction. Students will compile a portfolio of the work they produce during the term. Students completing this workshop course will be familiar with the skills needed to produce literary fiction, to self-edit work in progress, and to discern the characteristics that make quality literary fiction.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:


Classes move between writing workshops and peer reviews, traditional lectures, discussions of the assigned readings, in-class writing exercises and, when possible, occasional class outings to literary events around the city. Readings will correspond to the genres and topics covered and will help create a foundation for the writing assignments themselves. Dedicated to the philosophy that all writing benefits from careful critique and thoughtful revision, the workshops will help students develop critical thinking and editorial skills, while fostering an aesthetic sensibility about their own writing, the writing of their peers, and ultimately a more thorough understanding of the various components of literary fiction.
LEARNING OUTCOMES:
 Students will be familiar with the writing techniques employed when generating ideas and producing their own works of fiction. Students will also have gained writing exposure to the editorial skills necessary to offer critique and self-edit, while taking their own work through various stages of revision. After completing this course, student will have gained exposure to fine examples of literary fiction and had an opportunity to develop their own voice as a writer, and gain both confidence and practical hands-on experience with the form.
TEXTBOOK:
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
The Anchor Book of New American Short StoriesEditor: Ben MarcusAnchor/Penguin Random House1400034825 Available at ALMOST CORNER; print edition mandatory -- no digital copies allowed in class.
Writing Fiction, Tenth Edition: A Guide to Narrative Craft (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing) Janet BurrowayUniversity of Chicago Press022661669X Available at Almost Corner Bookshop; no digital editions allowed in class. Print only.
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
Final Fiction Portfolio This is the sum-total of the works of fiction produced in class, revised and submitted at the end of term. The exact assignments contained within the portfolios varies from semester to semester, but it is generally about 30 pages of prose fiction. Guidelines for specific assignments will be provided in class and posted on Moodle. 50%
Attendance & Participation See JCU attendance policy for classes that meet two times per week. Please note that students who are more than 15 minutes late may be counted as absent. 10%
Peer ReviewStudents are required to give written and oral feedback of the work submitted by their peers. Preparation for and participation in the peer reviews is required. 15%
Self editing, revision, and process analysis Editing one's own work is a crucial part of the fiction writing process. Submitted stories and assignments will all be revised over the course of the term. 15%
Homework, Presentations, and AssignmentsStudents will present close readings of assigned pieces, as well as produce written responses to the readings from class. These homework assignments will vary throughout the term. 10%

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
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.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:
ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS AND EXAMINATION POLICY
You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed.
ACADEMIC HONESTY
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.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
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.

SCHEDULE

NOTE: This schedule is approximate & subject to changes during the term, due to class
size, workshop time, and so forth. 

Dates

Reading Assignments & Homework

TEXT BOOKS ARE NEEDED IN CLASS WHENEVER THERE ARE ASSIGNED READINGS. NO DIGITAL COPIES ALLOWED.  
WF = Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft 
ABS = Anchor Book of New American Short Stories 

UNIT ONE: Exploring fiction, descriptive writing, and "Flash Fiction" or Micro-Fiction. 

Week One
Class Intro
Tues 9/3

Buy textbooks (Almost Corner Bookshop) & a notebook for class; begin thinking about potential stories you might write.

Intro to  Micro Fiction (handouts: Foster Wallace, Cisneros, Berlin, et al)

Thurs 9/5

Discussion + In class writing

Read Ch. 1 WF ("Whatever Works") + "Indian Camp" Hemingway (handout); please select any sentence or paragraph and be prepared to read it to the class and present any interpretations you have about it -- this can be about subject, tone, style, character, description or otherwise.

 

Week Two
Tues 9/10 Discussion + In class writing 

Read Ch. 2 WF ("Seeing is Believing) + ABS "Tiny Smiling Daddy" (Gaitskill)
Homework: Pick any sentence, paragraph or scene in the Gaitskill story that you feel illustrates a significant detail and one that also illustrates the "active voice" or "prose rhythm" as discussed in the text. Be prepared to informally present your impressions to the class. 

Thurs 9/12
WORKSHOP

SNAPSHOTS due; bring copies for class. See Guidelines.

Week Three
Tues 9/ 17
WORKSHOP 

Workshop, continued. (Please read the remaining essays and be prepared to offer both written and oral critique to your colleagues.)

Thurs 9/19







* FRI 9/20
Makeup for Thanksgiving; details TBD

Ch. 3 WF ("Building Character") + ABS "The Life and Work of Alphonse Kauders" (Hemon)  & ABS "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine" (Lahiri)
Homework: Having read the chapter on characterization, select an aspect of Hemon's story that helps build credibility and complexity and be prepared to discuss HOW that might be true. Then select a scene in Lahiri's story that employs an "indirect method of character presentation." Be prepared to discuss with class. 


Note: Friday 9/20 is the official makeup for Thanksgiving

Week Four
Tues 9/24

 

UNIT TWO: The nuts and bolts of Fiction
Read Ch. 4 WF "The Flesh Made Word" &"Hills Like White Elephants" (Hemingway) & "Bullet in the Brain" (Wolff) and be prepared to discuss dialogue, action, and appearance in both stories. Choose any scene or line of dialogue that best illustrates your ideas. Be prepared to present to class. 

Thurs 9/26

Read: ABS "The Girl in the Flammable Skirt" (Bender) & "Do Not Disturb" (Holmes)
Homework: Select a character in each story and make a list of 5+ characteristics that stand out, bring your lists to class for discussion; lists will be turned in. 

 

 

Week Five

Tues 10/1
WORKSHOP

Microfiction Due; see guidelines + bring copies for class
Workshop Order TBD

Thurs 10/3
WORKSHOP

Read and prepare written and oral critiques for the remaining stories. Note, lack of preparation for  & participation in the workshops will not be tolerated. Come prepared with comments; I will occasionally collect the stories to check the quality of handwritten comments on them. 

Week Six

Tues 10/8

WRITING LONGER STORIES: Setting & Structure
Read WF Ch. 5 "Long Ago & Far Away" and begin considering the fictional setting (place & time) of your stories.

Read ABS "Field Events" (Bass) and be prepared to discuss a significant aspect that illustrates either "setting & character," "setting and emotion" or "alien and familiar settings"

Thur 10/10

Learning From The Masters: O'Connor, Johnson, Cunningham, Berlin
Read "A Good Man is Hard to Find" Handout. (O'Connor); each student will be assigned a section to do a close reading and present to class

Week Seven
Tues 10/15

Flannery O'Connor, continued.


Thurs 10/16

IN CLASS WRITING

Read WF Ch. 6 "The Tower & The Net." Begin to incorporate ideas about plot, form, and structure into you draft of the next story. Begin sketching ideas and details about setting & structure in your notebooks. 

Read "White Angel" handout (Cunningham) marking any shifts in time as you read; be prepared to discuss Cunningham's structure and plot

Week Eight
Tues 10/15
IN CLASS WRITING

POINT OF VIEW
Read Ch. 7 WF "Call Me Ishmael" - Begin analyzing Point of View in this week's stories; be prepared to discuss the way the authors employ POV. Read "Carmen" (Berlin) &
"Car Crash While Hitchhiking" (Johnson) handouts.

Thurs 10/17
IN CLASS WRITING

Read WF Ch. 8 "Is and Is Not" + Read ABS "The Sound Gun" (Derby) & "Histories of the Undead" (Braverman) and be prepared to discuss both stories in terms of POV & symbolism. Choose an aspect from each story that illustrates what you learned in Chapters 7/8.

Week Nine
Tues 10/22


Read: "Sea Oak" (Saunders) & be prepared to discuss
Writing assignment TBD 

Thurs 10/24

Student Presentations on a selected story from text; presentation order + guidelines TBD

Week Ten
Tues 10/29
Thurs 10/31

Student Presentations, continued

Week Eleven
Tues 11/5
Thurs 11/7
WORKSHOP

SHORT STORIES DUE; see guidelines + bring copies; workshop order TBD

Week Twelve
Tues 11/12
Thurs 11/14
WORKSHOP

Workshop: read & prepare written + oral critiques

Week Thirteen
Tues 11/19
Thurs 11/21
WORKSHOP

 

Revision Workshop; see guidelines

Week Fourteen 
Tues 11/26

Thurs 11/28
NO CLASS
Thanksgiving

Workshop: read & prepare written + oral critiques

Week Fifteen
Tues 12/3

Revision Workshop; open option

Thurs 12/5

Final Portfolios Due

Finals Week
Dec. 9-13

 

Mandatory Final Exam meeting; date/time TBD

Weds Apr 24

Workshop

Week Fifteen

Final Portfolios DUE; guidelines TBD

LAST CLASS

 

 

Final Exam  

DATE TBD

No exam but EXAM PERIOD is mandatory attendance for all students. We will hold a final critique session. Details TBD.