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EN911 Creative Writing

Tutor: Professor David Vann

Winter Term: Thursday 4:00 - 7:00 The Writers Room, Millburn House NB - this module will be capped at 10 students maximum

The module is taught through practical and dynamic writing workshops. As well as providing graduate students with a challenging and supportive context in which to develop their writing, it helps to provide special insights into the processes of literary production of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. The student works on an extended piece of writing or portfolio of shorter pieces, together with a critical account of the aims and processes involved. Attention is paid to form and also to redrafting and revision, as well as to some of the broader practical issues facing new writers today, including the workings of the marketplace.

READINGS

Readings will be emailed to students in PDF or Word doc format or online link.

Assessment for the MA module ‘Creative Writing’
Please submit work as follows:

For 45 CATS: 6000 words of creative writing (the portfolio) AND a 2,000 word essay which is a fully-referenced critical account of the aims and processes involved in writing the portfolio.

For 36 CATS: 4800 words of creative writing (the portfolio) AND a 1,700 word essay which is a fully-referenced critical account of the aims and processes involved in writing the portfolio.

For 30 CATS 4000 words of creative writing (the portfolio) AND a 1,500 word essay which is a fully-referenced critical account of the aims and processes involved in writing the portfolio. The portfolio

The portfolio can take the following forms, but bear in mind these parameters are for guidance only.

1. An extended piece of fiction;

2. A portfolio of shorter fiction, for example two short stories or three short stories;

3. A portfolio of poetry as follows:
45 CATS: A long poem of between 20 and 25 pages or a collection of poems between 20 and 25 pages.
36 CATS: A long poem of between 17 and 20 pages or a collection of poems between 17 and 20 pages.
30 CATS: A long poem of between 13 and 17 pages or a collection of poems between 13 and 17 pages.

4. A portfolio that contains a mix of genres is permitted but its length and make-up must be agreed with the MA Convenor and Module Tutor.

All work should be word-processed, single-spaced. Use only Times Roman. Your portfolio counts for 75% of your mark, and the essay for 25%.

Workshop Timetable

In our first three meetings, we’ll discuss published texts.

From our fourth meeting on, we’ll discuss fewer published texts per class and workshop your writing – three or 4 students per week. You’ll hand out copies of your writing for workshopping one week before your workshop. You each have two workshops.

One more note on the readings. You’ll notice that most of these aren’t very recent. These are works that shaped my understanding of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, a kind of personal anthology, which is something you’ll need to find for yourself. So I’d like each of you to give a 5 minute presentation (and please don’t turn this into 10 minutes) on two or three authors you’re reading, explaining what it is you aspire to in their work and what their work has taught you. Given how literary influence works, you could possibly consider this the most important assignment in the course, though it’ll be ungraded.

Week One (Style, Description, and History of the English Language)

syllabus

  • Proulx, from The Shipping News
  • McCarthy, from Blood Meridian
  • Robinson, from Housekeeping
  • Bishop, “At the Fishhouses”
  • Robert Pinsky, “At Pleasure Bay”
  • opening of Beowulf
  • opening of Canterbury Tales
  • selections from Vergil's Aeneid

Week Two (The Protagonist)

  • O’Connor, “Everything That Rises Must Converge”
  • Nabokov, “Signs and Symbols”
  • Baldwin, “Notes of a Native Son”
  • Tobias Wolff, This Boy’s Life (pp 3-8)
  • Hart Crane, from “White Buildings”
  • William Blake, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” (online link)

Week Three (Dialogue and Structure)

  • Paley, “Wants”
  • Carver, “They’re Not Your Husband”
  • Kincaid, “Girl”
  • Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior (pp 3-22)
  • selections from Emily Dickinson
  • selections from Gerard Manley Hopkins' “Terrible Sonnets”

Week Four and following

  • begin workshopping (three or 4 students each week) and continue with readings (to be announced)