Spring 2015 New College Course Descriptions and Application Procedures

20268 Introduction to Creative Writing: Explorations Across Genre

Wed 12:30 – 3:20 in ACE 218


Skinny by Carolyn Hembree                                     


In this beginning workshop we will survey a variety of forms and procedures, techniques and tools for making art with words, following in every case the examples of our model readings. Class time will be split between discussing these readings and constructively critiquing one another's work (with one eye always on the array of choices the writer might make in revising her piece). We’ll start by opening our eyes and sharpening our powers of description, so central for the development of images and metaphors, characters, rooms, and worlds.

We’ll look and look and then turn to the image-rich and ever-innovating tradition of the sonnet from its Italian origins to Shakespeare’s most famous sequence. We then worm-hole our way straight to such contemporary shakedowns and reinventions of Will’s “buds” as Haryette Mullen’s, Douglas Kearney’s, and others’ re-envisionings of Shake’s originals—they literally rewrite them in 21st-C. American English “translation”—and Jen Bervin’s “erasure” of them, whereby she figuratively “whites out” most of the words in The Sonnets to pull out of it a whole new literary work.

Leaving Shakespeare lovingly abused (and maybe a little defiled—finally—and feeling more alive for it), we’ll turn to Ted Berrigan’s landmark anarchist take on the sonnet form, which will introduce us to such key contemporary techniques as literary collage and aleatory operations (where the proverbial “rolling of the dice” literally makes some of our literary choices for us). In our own collage work, we will not only collage quoted and even transformed phrases, lines, and sentences from various other sources into our own writing, but incorporate found visual images as well, combining the practices of literary and visual collage.

Rosmarie Waldrop’s at turns philosophical, humorous, and lyrical collage poems will also bring us into the territory of the prose poem. Poetry without lines or rhymes—whaaaat?? Yes. We’ll follow Waldrop’s lead in trying to place the “breaks” of line and stanza between the sentences. Eric Baus will bridge the prose poem and the “field composition,” exploding the paragraph and activating the page with the visual and choreographic energies of the “field composition.”

Speaking of prose, we’ll read some of the wickedly funny, intriguingly allegorical, wildly imaginative fiction Ben Marcus collected in his anthology of contemporary American short fiction, letting the stories live inside us, as he says in his introduction, and their influences stream out onto the page of our own writing as we try out their various narrative strategies.

Jamaica Kincaid’s and Carole Maso’s incantatory fever dream stories; Berryman’s wildly inebriated “Dream Songs”; the poetic plays of Gertrude Stein and Suzan-Lori Parks; the lyric essays of James Baldwin and Annie Dillard; and Carolyn Hembree’s “ball of heat lightning” debut, Skinny will guide us as we try our hands at numerous genres and literary problematics, including that abiding struggle to properly balance the lyrical and poetic use of language, on one hand, with the ever-competing impulse in so much of literature towards narration, communication, and information, on the other. How to make such innately competitive literary modes as lyric and narrative play nice together? No one knows. As always, we’ll do our best.

Workshop size limited to 12 participants. Students admitted by application only.

Application Instructions for Introductory Course:

Email Dr. Edgerton at TodEdgerton@gmail.com with a SINGLE Word or PDF file that addresses the items below. The subject line of the email should read, "Intro Workshop Application." Applications will be accepted immediately and through 11:59pm on Sunday, February 1. While I will still take applications through Sunday, in an attempt to expedite the process and raise the chances that I'll be able to set the class list by the first day of each class, I am asking you to try to get your application in by Saturday evening instead. Thank you!

1) A brief statement outlining your past experience with creative writing. (“I‘ve never written creatively before but want to try because XYZ” is an acceptable response.) Length: Anywhere from one sentence to one double-spaced page.

2) A brief statement telling me what has sparked your interest in taking a creative writing workshop at this time? (“See above,” if you answered this in the course of answering the first question, is an acceptable response.) Length: A paragraph to a page, double-spaced.

3) A 3-5pp sample of your writing (double-space any prose). It would be preferable for this to be creative writing (any genre, poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, drama, or a mix), but could also be a 2-5pp humanities paper.


NOTE: Students admitted into class will be emailed. As a precaution, a class list of accepted students will also be posted below. If you decide you do not want to take the class, please let me know asap so I can move someone up from the wait list, should I need to use one. Thank you for following these instructions.



Tiffany Clark

Zachary Conn

Fusha Del Mar

Katerina Diamond-Sagias

Kat Grimmett

Rachael Hargrove

Giulia Heyward

Ashley Hughes

Miles Iton

Adilyne McKinlay

Sara Sarmiento

Lily Solomon



Samantha Overton

Hunter Osking



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