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COURSE NAME: "Literature and Creative Writing: How to Read Like a Writer"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2021

INSTRUCTOR: Elizabeth Geoghegan
EMAIL: egeoghegan@johncabot.edu
HOURS: MW 6:00 PM 7:15 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above
OFFICE HOURS: by appointment

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. 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.

Designed primarily for undergraduates interested in creative writing, this course examines seminal examples of short fiction by James Baldwin, Lucia Berlin, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O’Connor, and other writers. Together we will explore the works in question from a craft perspective as a means to help students improve their own writing, whether analytical or creative.

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'ConnorFSG ISBN-13 : 978-0374515362 Available at Almost Corner Bookshop in Trastevere; students must have hard copies of textbooks (not Kindle copies)
A Manual for Cleaning WomenLucia BerlinFSGISBN-13 : 978-1250094735 Available at Almost Corner Bookshop in Trastevere
Reading Like a WriterFrancine ProseHarper PerennialISBN-13 : 978-0060777050 Available at Almost Corner Bookshop Trastevere.

PresentationsStudents are required to give presentations to the class as a means of showcasing their close reading skills. 25%
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.25%
Participation & HomeworkStudents are required to participate in daily discussions of the selected works and to participate in all classroom activities, as well as complete all in-class and out-of class (homework) exercises and assignments. This may include the generation of a work of short fiction. Quizzes may also apply. 25%

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 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 (unless the class is being taught digitally). 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. “RLW” 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 Hemingway Intro

 Read: Ch. 1 RLW Text & Hemingway "Indian Camp" &  "Cat in the Rain" & "Hills Like White Elephants" (Handouts)

Week 2:   Words &  Ch 2 RLW & Flannery O'Connor "A Good Man is Hard to Find" 

Week 3:   Sentences: Ch. 3 RLW & Flannery O'Connor: "Good Country People"

 Week 4:  Paragraphs Read RLW Ch. 4 Paragraphs Flannery O'Connor: "The River" 

Week 5: Dialogue: Read Ch. 7 RLW & Flannery O'Connor: "Revelation"

Week 6 & 7: Student Presentations: on a selected Flannery O'Connor Story. Those not presenting must read the stories and participate in presentation by asking questions. Guidelines TBA.

Week 8 Midterm Papers Due. Guidelines TBA.

Week 9 Character: Read Ch 6 RLW & Lucia Berlin "Angel's Laundromat" & "My Jockey" & "Unmanageable"

Week 10  Details & Gesture Ch. 8 & Ch. 9 RLW & Lucia Berlin "Mijito"+ in-class writing

Week 11 Voice, Music & Style: Lucia Berlin "Wait a Minute" & James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues" (Moodle)  & In Class Writing

Week 12: Voices from the Margins; Special Guest  readings TBA (on Moodle)

Week 13: Reading for Courage Read Ch. 11  & Workshop Student's Creative Work

Week 14:  Learning from Chekhov & Ch. 10 & Chekhov "The Lady with the Lap Dog" & Workshop, continued 

 Final Close Reading Papers Due on Lucia Berlin (Guidelines TBA)

Exam Week: Final Critiques