CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOPS
WORKSHOP IN FICTION
ENGL B3000 Salar Abdoh Tuesday 6:45 – 8:35 (Reg. Code: 25591)
This course is a standard graduate workshop. Each student is expected to submit (depending on class size) one time or twotimes during the semester. Submissions can be parts of a novel or short stories. I will ask you to submit an additional copy of the critiques that you write for each writer’s work to me as well. My focus in the workshop is entirely on the students’ own pieces. While there is no minimum requirement on the number of pages submitted, there is indeed a maximum. What I pay attention to is the nuts and bolts of the text at hand. My style is not to do paragraph by paragraph edits of a work. Rather, I look at the overall arc of a piece, and address the fundamental elements of fiction within it – pacing, character, voice, dialogue, prose, etc. Another aspect of my style of workshop is to not be overly intrusive. In other words, I try to work within the context and formulations that the writer has created; I don’t believe in ‘hard intrusion’ into a writer’s intent, style and execution, unless on very rare occasions it is absolutely called for. Finally, my own focus and area of interest is usually strict realism. In other words, my forte is not experimental fiction, nor have I much read fantasy or children/YA literature.
WORKSHOP IN POETRY
ENGL B3200 David Groff Wednesday 6:45 – 8:35 (Reg. Code: 25592)
Just as each of us humans has a distinctive voiceprint, so does every poet. In this workshop you’ll be encouraged to define and refine your particular poetic voice. We’ll use the reading aloud of our poems to make observations and insights about them that lead us into the adventure of revision. In class exercises and discussion, we’ll explore ways to liberate the imagination and take poems to the often-startling places they need to go, while writing in both received and organic poetic forms. We will also read poets of diverse nationalities, races, eras, genders, and aesthetics, to discover how we can better value their voices and find inspiration for our own poems. In addition to writing and revising poems, we will explore where and how to send them out for publication, as part of a larger discussion about the voice of the emerging writer in a complex and rapidly changing American culture. Please be ready to submit a poem a week, do assigned reading of work by poets past and present, provide generous written responses to poems by other workshop participants, perform in-class and take-home poetry prompts, present the workshop with a written introduction to a poet you love, and create an end-of-semester chapbook of your poetry.
ENGL B3901 David Unger Monday 4:45 – 6:35 (Reg. Code: 52980)
Translaton is an excellent way to sharpen the phrasing, dicton and tone of your own writng; at the same tme, it can serve, to quote Cynthia Ozick: “as a lense into the underground life of another culture.” Translaton will broaden your vision of writng as you introduce heretofore untranslated texts to English readers. Our goal is to develop readable, crisp English versions that retain all the power and poetry of the originals. Students must be able to read and understand the language they are translatng from. This course may count as a Workshop or Critcal Practce course for MFA students.
HYBRID EXPERIMENTAL POETICS: QUESTIONS OF MEANING
ENGL B1615 Laura Hinton Wednesday 6:45 – 8:35 (Reg. Code: 54919)
This new and experimental Critical Practice course will ask students to engage with questions of how “meaning” in writing is born and made, in tandem with multi-media forms creating hybrid literary art. The first part of the course will include foundational theoretical essays on the making of meaning (or how meaning is not made) by linguists Ferdinand de Saussure and Emile Benveniste, Russian Formalist Viktor Shklovsky, and contemporary writers Carla Harryman, Leslie Scalapino, Erica Hunt, and Lyn Hejinian. The remainder of this course will include readings by a range of multi-media experimental literary artists that exemplify various hybrid forms: the prose-poetry novel (Charles Baudelaire and Alice Notley), jazz poetics (Langston Hughes and Jayne Cortez), the artist book (Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Richard Tuttle or Kiki Smith), photography and writing documentary (Bernadette Mayer and Erica Hunt), and the poetry video / poetry “doc” (Anne Waldman, Aaron Fagon, Anne Carson, and others). While the emphasis of the course is on multi-media innovative poetics and the opening up of “meaning” through hybridity, writers who consider themselves dedicated to prose narrative might consider taking this course to experiment with and stretch their writerly range. Literature as well as MFA students who are interested in theory and creative forms are also welcome. Required written work includes a few short writing experiments, a project proposal due by midterm, a project notebook created over the course of the semester, and a final version of the hybrid project students will produce and present during the last three weeks. Collaborative projects with other artists are encouraged.
ENGL B1707 Michelle Valladares Tuesday 4:45 – 6:35 (Reg. Code: 52959)
Nothing in the cry of cicadas suggest they are about to die Basho, translated by Sam Hamill
This critical practice workshop is an exploration of poetic structure and form. It is part exploration of traditional forms, an examination of traditional and contemporary versions of the form and writing in form. You will consider the sonnet, villanelle, sestina, haiku, ghazal and others. We will read poems by Shakespeare, Bishop, Whitman, Emily Dickinson, WS Merwin and Anne Carson. You will use this rigorous study of form to invigorate your own language and poems. We will use An Exaltation of Forms, edited by Annie Finch and Katherine Varnes and A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver.
THE EXPERIMENT IN FICTION IN THE 20TH CENTURY
ENGL B1965 Mark Mirsky Thursday 6:45 – 8:35 (Reg. Code: 55193)
This course looks back on the tradition of the experiment in what are now recognized as some (but not all) of the “great” literary classics of the last century. I have chosen those that question the of fiction itself, what one imagines as real but what remains finally in the realm of the imagination. I will ask what draws the authors of these books to riddle what we easily acknowledge as reality and what we dream These are texts on the basis of which, I believe, we can measure what is best in stories and novels being written now in the Twenty-first century. I may subtract from the syllabus or add to it as the class proceeds, trying to focus on a single story in a class or several classes in the case of a novel. I will require three questions about each full-length book we read, or when discussing several stories by a single author, three questions about one of his or her stories. I will respond to the written questions from students, and that response in addition to some of prepared remarks I will make will be at the heart of the course. I hope to initiate a discussion during classes among students as if it were a creative writing seminar. I will require a short final paper. It can, however, be a creative response to a book or story on our list of required reading. Several of these novels are long and challenging but they are also books that I have finished with a sense of having been changed in the process of reading them.
“The Jolly Corner” by Henry James
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
Five Stories by Robert Musil
The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil
Gantenbein by Max Frisch
“The Pagan Rabbi” by Cynthia Ozick
Night and Day by Virginia Woolf
The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
Sixty Stories by Donald Barthelme
The Emigrants by W.G Sebald
Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
On the Natural History of Disaster by W.G. Sebald
AFRO CARIBBEAN FEMINIST LITERATURE: WRITTEN ON THE BODY
ENGL B2029 Nicole Dennis-Benn Thursday 4:45 – 6:35 (Reg. Code: 54924)
These stories feature Afro Caribbean female protagonists who defy gendered norms. Stories will explore the internal and external conflicts of being caught in a dilemma of self-expression versus expectations as a woman in the Caribbean. Examples of books, Land of Wood and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique, Krik Krak by Edwidge Danticat, Zami- A New Spelling of My Name by Audre Lorde, The Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid, Here Comes the Sun, and others. Through reading, writing, and discussion, this lecture will challenge students to reflect on literary devices that make the work compelling, such as setting as time, setting as culture and setting as social and political atmosphere, which inform characterization and story.
THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY BRITISH NOVEL
ENGL B1918 Renata Miller Tuesday 4:45 – 6:35 (Reg. Code: 55146)
This course focuses on four big novels: Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, George Eliot’s Middlemarch, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. These novels are big in the sense of their ambition, their scope, their influence, and, in all but one case, their physical size. The realist novel is one of the nineteenth-century’s great cultural contributions and a great literary accomplishment, and as we read these novels we will play close attention to distinctive features of their form. We will consider how they emerged from a historical context, and the course will include supported primary research in nineteenth-century periodicals. In order to consider the enduring influence of these novels, we will read and view a selection of 20th- and 21st-century works that will include television and film adaptations, as well novels and non-fiction works such as Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch, Allegra Goodman’s Intuition, and Valerie Martin’s Mary Reilly. We will also read selected literary criticism. Following on these class activities, written work will ask you to consider a novel’s influence in its own time, on literary study, or on 20th- and 21st-century literature.
LITERATURE OF INVASION
ENGL B2027 Amir Ahmadi Monday 4:45 – 6:35 (Reg. Code: 52979)
When the war theorist Von Clausewitz tried to articulate a theory of war in mid 19th century, he operated within a simple framework: war as an armed conflict between two hostile fronts. This definition is hardly sufficient for what we have witnessed over the last century. Technology and imperialism produced more complex forms of armed conflict, such as terrorism and invasion. The OED defines invasion as ‘An instance of invading a country or region with an armed force.’ There is no ‘other’ side in this definition. It is a unilateral form of conflict, in which one country intrudes the borders of another. Therefore, invasion is what empires tend to do. They have men and resources, also, by definition, the thirst for expansion and dominance.
From the WWII to this day, the US, being the most powerful empire in the world by far, has ventured into multiple invasions. Those conflicts have generated tremendous amount of grief and casualties. Like other seismic events in lives of nations, they have also generated a large body of literary works on both sides. That is what we study this semester.
Of American invasions of the last fifty years, three stand out: Vietnam, the Caribbean, and Iraq. We will discuss the history and politics of those invasions, and see how novels on both sides address These issues.
Quiet American by Graham Greene
Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh
Going after Cacciatto by Tim O’brien
The Sympathizer by Thanh Nguyen
The Tailor of Panama by John Le Care
Angel by Merle Collins
Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
The Corpse Exhibition by Hassan Blasim
War Porn by Roy Scranton
Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi
THE GOTHIC AND OTHERNESS
ENGL B2099 Lyn Di Iorio Thursday 6:45 – 8:35 (Reg. Code: 54926)
Contemporary culture is characterized by, among many other tendencies, a reawakened interest in the “Gothic”—the aesthetic discourse of horror and terror that arose following the publication of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto in 1764. This seminar begins with a focus on the early British Gothic aesthetic, and also addresses other types of Gothic, or ways of understanding it, such as: American Gothic, Female Gothic, Queer Gothic, the sublime, the uncanny, the abject, and trauma theory. The course also proposes that the contemporary Gothic aesthetic in our not completely postcolonial times uncovers important issues of racial, ethnic and gendered otherness. As such, Caribbean Gothic and Postcolonial Gothic are emerging categories that we will examine with special interest.
Requirements: one class presentation and a final research paper. Creative writers may write a short story with Gothic elements.
The following texts offer some possibilities for our reading pleasure:
The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales by Chris Baldick
Gothic (an introduction to the critical idiom of the Gothic) by Fred Botting
A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful by Edmund Burke
“The ‘Uncanny’” by Sigmund Freud
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
The Gothic, Postcolonialism, and Otherness: Ghosts from Elsewhere by Tabish Khair
The Red of His Shadow by Mayra Montero
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Perfume by Patrick Suskind
ENGL B2130 Vaclav Paris Monday 6:45 – 8:35 (Reg. Code: 54929)
What do CUNY administration, waking up as a beetle, insurance, America, immigration, tax forms, torture, David Lynch, communism, “late” capitalism, suffocating families, airport security, and the law have in common? One answer is the “Kafkaesque.” Defined briefly as “characteristic or reminiscent of the oppressive or nightmarish qualities of Franz Kafka’s fictional world,” the Kafkaesque originates with the German-language Prague-based Jewish writer Franz Kafka (1883-1924). Its applications, however, are much broader than simply to Kafka’s work. Taken up in various ways by writers, artists, philosophers, and filmmakers, the Kafkaesque has become one of the defining symptoms of modern life. This course is dedicated to exploring the meanings of the Kafkaesque, theorizing the term, and staking out its creative potentials. We will begin by reading Kafka’s major works: a selection of his stories, including “Metamorphosis,” his novels, The Castle, The Trial, and Amerika, as well as extracts from his letters and biography. We will then move on to other expressions of the Kafkaesque in literature and film (both earlier and later), including Hermann Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” sections from David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King, and Basma Abdel Baziz’s 2016 novel, The Queue. We’ll also read theorists of the Kafkaesque including Georges Bataille, Hannah Arendt, Theodor Adorno, Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze, and Nick Land. The questions that we’ll ask include: is the Kafkaesque a historical formation? How does it relate to modernity? What is its genre? Is it a form of comedy? Does it have a particular place (the city, the West), or relation to a given identity (Jewishness, linguistic minority)? What are its existential and psychoanalytic ramifications? Why has such an apparently inane set of topics and affects proved so fascinating to writers and theorists of the last century? What does it teach us about life today, and about the future? And what isn’t Kafkaesque… at least not yet? This course is for those who want to confront difficult issues and difficult questions. It involves a lot of not always pleasant reading and thinking.
Evaluation will be based on participation, written responses on Blackboard, as well as two critical essays (or one critical essay and one creative piece).
SAFE SPACES IN THE WORK OF SEVERAL BLACK WRITERS, WITH EMPHASIS ON JAMES BALDWIN
ENGL B2196 Gordon Thompson Wednesday 4:45 – 6:35 (Reg. Code: 54948)
In the now maturing field of eco-criticism, this course offers the opportunity to review African American literature from the perspective of the environment. Long considered to be an effete, overly anesthetized reclamation project associated either with the neo-classicist in British literature or the Thoreauvian tradition linked to American transcendentalism, eco-criticism comes into its own as a means of reviewing how writers use nature to project the emotional reaction to man’s relationship to nature. By reading race in the landscape, this course takes us through the work of several African American writers from Frederick Douglass to Jean Toomer and Zora Neale Hurston, from Richard Wright to James Baldwin and from Alice Walker to Toni Morrison. At bottom, we seek to understand how these texts problematize the forced alienation from nature of Blacks and their otherwise deep connection to it.
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION
ENGL B8100 Missy Watson Tuesday 6:45 – 8:35 (Reg. Code: 52978)
This course examines the relationship between research on second language acquisition (SLA) and the teaching of English language and literacy. We will explore seminal scholarship in both second language acquisition and second language writing, building foundational theoretical knowledge on how L2 individuals learn and acquire English language and advanced literacy. We’ll investigate what aspects of the acquisition process are universal, as well as the sorts of environmental, social, and individual factors that influence variability in L2 learning outcomes. Put simply, we’ll study how and why different language learners learn and acquire languages so differently. To gain pedagogical insights, we’ll explore the diverse educational needs and experiences of multilingual adolescents in K-6 settings, second language writers in college composition courses, and adult immigrants in ESL community programs. Our goal will be to highlight the implications of SLA to English language and composition instruction. Course texts include (but are not limited to) David E. Freeman and Yvonne S. Freeman’s 3rd edition of Between Worlds: Access to Second Language Acquisition, Richard A. Orem’s Teaching Adult English Language Learners, and Dana R. Ferris’ Teaching College Writing to Diverse Student Populations.
TEACHING ADULT WRITERS IN DIVERSE CONTEXTS
ENGL C0855 Barbara Gleason Thursday 6:45 – 8:35 (Reg. Code: 59810)
This course offers an overview of adult learning theory, approaches to teaching adult writers, and forums for adult writing/reading education. We will examine influential learning theories such as andragogy, self-directed learning, embodied learning, constructivism, and transformational learning. Then we’ll consider approaches to teaching adult writers and the experiences of adults learning to write. In the second half of the course, we will focus on adult education sites such as writing centers, ELL programs, community colleges, prison education, adult-oriented college programs, union education, HSE (High School Equivalency) prep courses, and library-sponsored adult education courses. Course participants will conduct field research studies of educational courses or programs designed for adult writers.
Adult Learning: Linking Theory to Practice by Sharan Merriam & Laura Bierema (2014)
Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education by Mike Rose (2012)
Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 30th Anniversary Edition by Paulo Freire (2000)
The Community College Writer: Exceeding Expectations by Howard Tinberg and Jean-Paul Nadeau (2010)
Teaching Adults: A Practical Guide for New Teachers by Ralph G. Brocket (2015)