Creative Writing Major and Minor

Course Descriptions

 ENG 209. Introduction to Creative Writing. 3 Credit Hours. This is an introductory course in writing fiction and poetry.  A basic premise of this course is that powerful stories and poems often emerge from attentive reading, fearless writing, and rigorous revision.  Some writers may be born, but all writers are made (as are athletes, doctors, painters, lawyers, and musicians) through the deliberate and persistent practice of discipline.  In English 209, readings, class discussions and in-class writing exercises will focus on the elements of craft.  We will pay special attention to reading as models and jumping off places into our own work.  We will, in effect, “imitate toward originality.” 

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop a working knowledge of the differences between poetry, fiction and the third genre.
  • Understand how to talk about these genres as writers.
  • Become familiar with the workshop as a form of receiving and giving feedback.
  • Understand the writing process, from idea to draft, workshop to revision, and the importance of all steps.
  • Gain a familiarity with reading and writing work that is multilingual.
  • Attend literary events and write reflections about them.
  • Produce a final portfolio of writing samples, including first drafts, intermediate drafts, and final revisions (three samples—one in each genre).

 

ENG 290/219. Introduction to Fiction Workshop. 3 Credit Hours.  This course is an introduction to the writing of contemporary short fiction where you will develop critical as well as creative thinking and writing skills.  We will focus on building your understanding of the elements of fiction and how you might use these elements to design your stories.  We are also concerned with developing your sense of what it means to be part of a writing community. The workshop environment requires extensive peer collaboration as we practice various writing strategies and examine the stages of the writing process: mining, collecting, shaping, drafting, and revising. This course meets requirements for creative writing majors and minors.

Prerequisite: ENG 209 or Requisite: Creative Writing Majors or Creative Writing Minors. May not be taken in the same term with another Creative Writing course

Learning Outcomes

  • Define and know the difference between a short story, vignette, flash fiction, novel, and the novella.
  • Develop and implement a vocabulary for talking about the craft of fiction. Terms should include tension, conflict, character, setting, plot, structure, pacing, voice, point of view, tone, revision, epiphany, resolution, scene, exposition, summary, narrative, sensory details, concrete details.
  • Recognize scenes as the building blocks of stories.
  • Write from the ground up, i.e. begin with the writing of scenes that develop character and conflict, that can move a story forward.
  • Write complete short stories, built upon the work done at the scene level.
  • Become comfortable with the workshop, with the giving and receiving of feedback.
  • Become aware of their personal writing process, and be able to describe it in reflection.
  • Continue to become familiar with work that is multilingual.
  • Produce at least one assignment that is multilingual.
  • Write work that fall under the literary tradition.
  • Attend literary events and write reflections about them.
  • Produce a final portfolio of writing samples, including first drafts, intermediate drafts, and final revisions.

 

ENG 292/219.  Introduction to Poetry Workshop. 3 Credit Hours. Our aim is to help each of you develop your interests and abilities as poets. This means we’ll be doing a lot of reading, writing, and revising during this semester. We’ll spend much of our time in the detailed discussion of your own creative work. We’ll also read the work of a diverse array of contemporary writers to gain an understanding of contemporary American poetry. You will learn the state of the art and you will contribute to its continuing evolution as engaged and active artists.

Prerequisite: ENG 209 or Requisite: Creative Writing Majors or Creative Writing Minors. May not be taken in the same term with another Creative Writing course

Learning Outcomes

  • Actively participate in the workshop by receiving and providing critical feedback
  • Define key terms including diction, syntax, line break, stanza, image, metaphor, simile, and cliché.
  • Define the term ‘free verse’ and write free verse poems that feature tactile imagery and original phrasing/description free of clichéd language.
  • Understand the difference between concrete and abstract language.
  • Understand the poetic line as a unit of sound and meaning.
  • Generate evocative titles for their poetry.
  • Understand how punctuation shapes rhythm, cadence, and meaning in a poem.
  • Produce at least one poem that is multilingual.
  • Attend literary events and write reflections about them.
  • Produce a final portfolio of free verse poetry that includes first drafts and final revisions.

 

ENG 390/391. Intermediate Fiction Workshop. 3 Credit Hours. This workshop will look at the construction of effective contemporary stories. Its intention is to build a community of writers with a commitment to craft, to risk taking, and to building each other’s own sense of story. Students are expected to generate 20-30 pages of new writing and to complete one revision of a full-length story. In addition, each student may be expected to discuss writing from a reflective and critical perspective in the form of an annotated bibliography, close reading, essay, presentation, response paper, review, or some other form determined by the instructor. Topics may include an element of craft (i.e. balancing story with flashback), a narrative strategy (such as the unreliable narrator) or an exploration of a particular writer, group of writers, or writing school. This course meets requirements for creative writing majors and minors.

Prerequisite: ENG 219 Or ENG 290 Or Permission of Creative Writing Director.  May not be taken in the same term with another Creative Writing course.

Learning Outcomes

  • Write and revise 20-30 pages of new writing.
  • Develop and refine the use of literary elements in their short stories.
  • Develop their sense of what it means to be part of a writing community via workshop, attendance of literary events.
  • Continue to become familiar with work that is multilingual.
  • Read contemporary writers, including work from multilingual and/or multicultural writers.
  • Discuss writing from a reflective or critical perspective in the form of an annotated bibliography, close reading, essay, presentation, response paper, review or some other form determined by the instructor.

 

ENG 392/391. Intermediate Poetry Workshop. 3 Credit Hours. This course will continue your development as writers and critical readers of poetry. While you may be familiar with workshop practices from prior courses, this intermediate workshop will challenge you into offering increasingly sophisticated feedback to your peers. We’ll be seeking similarly sophisticated turns of thought and language in the poems you write. Our course reading will complicate your notions of what’s possible in poetry and inspire you to write poems unlike any you have written before. 

Prerequisite: ENG 219 Or ENG 292.  Or Permission of Creative Writing Director. May not be taken in the same term with another Creative Writing course.

Learning outcomes

  • Receive and offer critical feedback in workshop with an eye towards submitting their work to undergraduate literary journals like Mangrove.
  • Display a deeper understanding of the terminology and elements of craft introduced in ENG 292/219.
  • Experiment with more figurative language, unconventional forms, and cross-genre work.
  • Continue to become familiar with work that is multilingual.
  • Be able to distinguish between free verse and formal poetry with an increased knowledge of terms like metered verse, blank verse, rhyme scheme, and fixed form.
  • Develop a stronger sense of his/her revision process with an emphasis on independent self-direction.
  • Produce a final portfolio of free verse poetry that includes first drafts and final revisions with an eye towards submitting their work to undergraduate literary journals at UM or elsewhere.
  • Read and offer original analysis of poetry by contemporary writers, including work from multilingual and/or multicultural poets.

 

ENG 404. Creative Writing (Fiction Prose). 3 Credit Hours. This workshop will look at the construction of effective contemporary short stories. Its intention is to build a community of serious writers with a commitment to craft, to risk taking, and to building each other’s own sense of story. It is my hope that you find the material deep inside you and that you use your craft, your ability to risk and your community to develop your works. In addition to workshopping student narratives, we will ground our discussions in published contemporary short stories to give your own stories context in form and inspiration to grow. In the end, I intend for you to be strong storytellers and readers, able to write, critique and revise your works in a confident manner. This course meets requirements for creative writing majors with a concentration in fiction.

Prerequisite: ENG 390 Or Permission of Creative Writing Director.  May not be taken in the same term with another Creative Writing course.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students should produce 20-30 pages of writing.
  • Construct effective short stories and write outside the short story form as well. This may include flash fiction, novellas, chapters from novels-in-progress, digital expressions, etc.
  • Read at an advanced and challenging level.
  • Take risks in their writing in order to develop the content of their work.
  • Continue to become familiar with work that is multilingual.
  • Be introduced to basic ideas about publishing for emerging writers.
  • Create a portfolio that is future-minded. In other words, the portfolios should include samples of work and the revision process, as well as proposals regarding either longer work to be written post-graduation, or postgrad plans, a process letter that serves as self-assessment, or an annotated list of goals for continuing the life of the writer after the undergraduate degree is completed.

 

ENG 406. Creative Writing (Poetry Workshop). 3 Credit Hours. Students in this advanced poetry workshop will have the opportunity for hands-on experimentation with poetic crafts—structure, language, musicality—as well as for research, collaboration, and critique.  We’ll mine memory, mix genres, and explore culture and linguistic inventions, while enjoying the work of a diverse array of contemporary and canonical poets.  Through annotations and lively discussions of both contemporary poems and student work, as well as through exercises and assignments, students will create poetry of increasing risk and quality and develop the skills necessary to advance their craft.  A final portfolio of creative and critical work is due at the semester’s end.

Prerequisite: ENG 392 Or ENG 391 Or Permission of Creative Writing Director. May not be taken in the same term with another Creative Writing course.

Learning Outcomes

  • Receive and offer highly informed and eloquent critical feedback in workshop with an eye towards submitting their work to undergraduate literary journals like Mangrove and/or towards the compilation of an MFA application portfolio.
  • Write original work that reveals their unique aesthetic interests and displays a strong sense of individual voice.
  • Continue to become familiar with work that is multilingual.
  • Discuss their specific literary models and influences by speaking and writing knowledgably about the work of published poets they either admire or find difficult.
  • Experiment with more figurative language, unconventional forms, and cross-genre work
  • Effectively experiment in multiple languages, including writing in vernacular, dialects, and even invented language.
  • Be able to dramatically transform their poems from one draft to another with an emphasis on linguistic originality, descriptive sophistication, and thematic complication.
  • Produce a final portfolio of poetry that includes final revisions with an eye towards submitting their work to undergraduate literary journals at UM or elsewhere or towards the compilation of an MFA application portfolio.

 

Course Description for 407

Special Topics Advanced Workshop in Creative Writing

This course explores special topics in Creative Writing. Students will be taken step by step through the process of writing compelling fiction, poetry or nonfiction in the genre and specific form of the professor’s choice. Students will learn the basic skills and attitudes needed to research, produce and write in that specific form. Readings in the form will be broad and challenging. By the end of the course, students will have developed a portfolio of work that reflects the form under study.

Prerequisite: ENG 390 or Permission of Creative Writing Director. This course may not be taken concurrently with another creative writing workshop.

Learning Outcomes

  • Produce a significant amount of written work, equivalent to what is asked of them in ENG 404, but tailored to the needs and standards of the form being studied.
  • Recognize the major elements of the topic under study, and be able to talk about them in formal terms related to that topic.
  • Model the readings in their work via writing assignments, reflecting an understanding of the topic.
  • Complete a final portfolio or project that reflects their best work, their understanding of the topic, and their process.

Course Description for 408

Writing Autobiography

This course explores the writing of prose or poetry as autobiography. Students will be taken step by step through the process of writing compelling memoir, the essay, blogging or creative nonfiction as a way of exploring the Self. Students will learn the basic skills and attitudes needed to research, produce and write autobiography. Readings in the form will be broad and challenging. By the end of the course, students will have developed a portfolio of work that reflects the form under study.

Prerequisite: ENG 390 or Permission of Creative Writing Director. This course may not be taken concurrently with another creative writing workshop.

Learning Outcomes

  • Produce a significant amount of written work, equivalent to what is asked of them in ENG 404, but tailored to the needs and standards of the form being studied.
  • Recognize the major elements of autobiography, creative nonfiction and the essay; and be able to talk about them in formal terms.
  • Continue to become familiar with work that is multilingual.
  • Model the readings in their work via writing assignments, reflecting an understanding of form.
  • Complete a final portfolio or project that reflects their best work, their understanding of the topic, and their process.