Advanced Writing Courses (WRTNG-UG)

WRTNG-UG 1012  Three Modern Essayists: Woolf, Orwell, Baldwin  (4 Credits)  
Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, and James Baldwin were 20th century writers perhaps best known for their fiction – Mrs. Dalloway, Animal Farm, and Go Tell It On the Mountain readily call to mind their respective authors. Yet, each of these figures was also a master of the essay, and in their numerous works they address pressing issues in the tumultuous times in which they lived: the cause of women’s rights and feminism in the case of Woolf; British imperialism, violence, and war in Orwell’s; and the question of American politics and particularly race in the work of Baldwin. In this course, we will explore the modern essay through the works of these three writers to understand both the breadth and depth of their ideas, and, most importantly, the ways they stretched and innovated the form of the essay itself. As this is a writing course, we will focus intently on studying their works as models for students’ own writing. At the same time we will delve into the subjects that they took up in their work, we will use their essays as spurs for student essays. There will be a workshop component to this course so that students share their essays in progress. Readings may include, among many others, essays such as Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown”; Orwell’s “Such, Such Were the Joys . . . “ and “Shooting an Elephant,” Baldwin’s “The Discovery of What It Means to Be an American” and “Fifth Avenue, Uptown: a Letter from Harlem.”
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1015  The Practice of Writing  (4 Credits)  
This course is about rendering the abstractions of imagery into the concrete medium of written language. In this class, students explore the complex ways in which abstract and concrete languages interrelate with each other. Discussions will focus on the primacy of the sentence, the distinction between observation and inference (argument/quarrel), and the basic dynamics of successful writing. Where is language weaponized, where does it make poetic revelation? All students will periodically workshop their own texts: fables and parables, journals and letters, autobiographical reflections, personal essays, drama scenes, or poems. To share what one observes, what one deduces, and what one wants to frame for others clearly and effectively, takes skill and practice. This course is part assigned reading of texts, part discussion, part exercise all practice in the pursuit of clarifying the poetics of self-possession, author-ity, and self-expression.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1019  The Basics and the Bold: Fundamentals of Editing Fiction and Creative Nonfiction  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Editors and literary agents often find that a great variety of creative writing submissions (including novels, short story collections, memoirs and works of narrative nonfiction) require a relatively limited stock of editorial tools. Learning to identify the most common writing troubles and to use tools to relieve those troubles can lift a manuscript from the rejection pile to the acceptance pile and, later, from lackluster publication to strong word of mouth and review attention. This class will focus on two kinds of frequent manuscript problems: 1) the bold--identifying and troubleshooting the bigger conceptual and structural problems, including the young writer"s frequent habit of not being bold at all, and 2) the basics--sweating the small stuff by learning and using the tricks of an editor's trade. Readings will include works by writers such as Susan Minot, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, Claire Keegan and others (models of successful basics and boldness), and student writings. Students will be expected to learn a common list of writing troubles and a common list of editorial tools; to read and edit work by their fellow students; to bring in one piece of their own fiction, memoir or narrative nonfiction, and to edit that piece of work in response to feedback.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1022  Intro to Investigative Reporting  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Good non-fiction narratives depend on robust, comprehensive research, and in-depth journalism often requires strong investigative reporting. This course will introduce writers and reporters to these skills through the development of an investigative project. Students will learn basic approaches to gathering public documents, performing background research on organizations and individuals, learning how to skillfully conduct interviews, and understanding the mechanics of storytelling. The class will cooperatively produce an investigative project that centers on one local topic—such as looking into recent issues pertaining to the New York City Housing Authority or the Administration for Children’s Services—with students finally producing a series of polished articles that will comprise a sequence on the course topic. To complement our writing, students will read texts about investigative reporting, and some of the best contemporary examples of investigative reporting in literary journalism. Readings may include texts by Jane Mayer, Juan Gonzalez, The Investigative Reporter's Handbook, by Brant Houston, Len Bruzzese and Steve Weinberg, A Civil Action, by Jonathan Harr, Muckraking!: The Journalism That Changed America, Judith Serrin and William Serrin, and The Journalist and the Murderer, by Janet Malcolm.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1024  Magazine Writing  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The most ambitious of the postwar American journalism to appear in magazines like The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, and The New York Review of Books gave rise to a new and distinctly indigenous documentary literature, with its own possibilities and poetics. In this class we explore how this body of work redrew the formal boundaries of longform reporting, the profile, the essay, personal history and cultural criticism. We consider the emergence of the narrator as a character, the uses of rhetoric, approaches to the sentence, tone, rhythm, and structure, as well as questions of veracity and credibility. Students try their hand at these forms while responding to readings that include Ian Frazier, Joseph Mitchell, Joan Didion, David Foster Wallace, Margo Jefferson, Janet Malcolm, George W.S. Trow, Hilton Als, Wells Tower, Susan Sontag, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., John Jeremiah Sullivan, and Richard Rodriguez.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1025  Style and Substance: Tools for Writing  (4 Credits)  
Writing is a deliberate, conscious act. Whether it is short or long, fiction or nonfiction, the finished work is as meticulously designed and executed as a cathedral. This course examines how writers use the various elements of narrative to realize their ideas with precision and grace. Specific craft elements?plot and structure, characterization and dialogue, and point of view?are explored through close reading of exemplary writing, in-class exercises, and take-home assignments. Class discussions analyze storytelling strategies in the published work of established writers; workshopping students? writing is scheduled in the second half of the term. The readings include personal essays, journalism, excerpted fiction, and scripts. Taped interviews with writers and other professionals are screened and discussed, and information about interacting with the publishing industry is offered.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1026  Lives in Brief  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
"I can never get enough of knowing about other people's lives," said William Maxwell. People love to read biography in many forms: fat books, short obituaries, newspaper feature stories, and magazine profiles. This class will explore the writing of short biography, how you can capture the spirit and shape of a person's life in a few hundred words. We will read a variety of writers, from Sigrid Nunez and Oliver Sacks to Janet Malcolm, Henry Louis Gates,and Lawrence Weschler, to discover tools and methods. Students will write (and rewrite) four assignments, ranging from short personal snapshots to detailed book reviews to an interview-derived essay. We will discuss research techniques and ethical issues.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1029  The Nonfiction Narrator  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Much of the most exciting and influential postwar nonfiction—magazine writing as well as longer forms—has been marked by the emergence of a first-person narrator as a character and sometimes as a protagonist. It ushered in a newly lyrical and personal body of work, making the case for nonfiction as a full-fledged literary genre. In this class students will narrate their work from inside the story, trying their hand at first-person reporting, memoir, essay, cultural coverage. We will explore opportunities for enriching reporting with memoiristic writing and composing scenes, while learning to avoid preciousness and solipsism. We will also examine the way this technique changed the course of long-form journalism and nonfiction in readings from Michael Herr, Truman Capote, Wells Tower, Renata Adler, Dave Hickey, Geoff Dyer, James Baldwin and Eileen Myles.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1033  Writing About Popular Music  (4 Credits)  
Popular music is a product of integration: the melding of Anglo-Celtic folk ballads, African-American laments and rhythms, Eastern European accordian tunes, Calypso, jazz, country, blues and more. In turn, American popular music, more than any other cultural trend in recent history, has left its mark on literature, film, classical music, art and politics. In this class, students will explore the rich world of popular music, and write responsive, critical, and research essays on the music?s form and content. Essays will engage with the politics and social forces involved in popular music as treated by particular performers. Research may focus on the social and material forces that might have created music as we now know it, and how the music has in turn recreated us. Readings will include works by Nick Tosches, Peter Guralnick, and Greil Marcus.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1034  The Experimental Critic: Theatre, Dance, Performance Art  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This writing seminar will train students to become critical viewers of performance and translate their "looking" into descriptive and analytical prose. Students will be introduced to a variety of critical strategies and approaches—from formalist to ethnographic to various forms of sociological and cultural criticism—to develop their interpretive skills. These analyses will help students discover how various performance mediums are constituted, how they "work," and how they create meaning for viewers. In addition to a writing course, this seminar is an introduction to the history of American performance criticism with an emphasis on New York City and the avant-garde. Assignments will include cultural reviews, interviews, artists’ profiles, performance documentations, and critical and/or theoretical analyses. Occasional visits by guest writers will be arranged. Some of the authors, essayists, and artists whose works we may read include: Edwin Denby, Susan Sontag; Margo Jefferson; Deborah Jowitt; Anna Deavere Smith; Homi Bhabha; Coco Fusco; and Wesley Morris. Please note that while music and film comprise a part of the world of performance art, those genres are not the focus of this course.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1039  Writing About Popular Music  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Effective music criticism—criticism that places a song or album within the appropriate social, political, personal, and aesthetic contexts—can be as enthralling and moving as the music it engages. In this course, we will explore different ways of writing about music, from the record review to the personal essay. We’ll consider the evolving tradition of pop music criticism (How is the critic’s role changing?) and the mysterious practice of translating sound into ideas (How do we train ourselves to be better and more thoughtful listeners?). Through close reading, class discussion, and (most importantly) workshop sessions, we’ll contemplate the mysterious circuitry that causes people to embrace (or require) music—from Bob Dylan to Megan Thee Stallion—and how best to explore that connection on the page. Readings will include Jia Tolentino, Hua Hsu, Greg Tate, Hanif Abdurraqib, Lindsay Zoladz, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Jon Caramanica, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1041  Writing About Music: Stage and Floor  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In writing about music—any music at all—writers look either toward the stage or the floor. “Stage” writing might mean describing what’s on the score paper, or what comes out of the instruments on the bandstand. “Floor” writing might mean interpreting music through the desires and interests of the audience, and understanding the generative, identity-shaping culture that forms around any kind of song. Most great music-writing achieves a mixture of both; this course considers the virtues of each. Our readings will come from a hundred years of critical or clarifying writing on hiphop, jazz, rock, the classical tradition, electronic music, and beyond; here and there, some maverick musicology, eulogies, memoirs, and fiction. They will provoke basic questions about why we make music and why we respond to it, and establish—if it needed establishing—that music criticism is a literary endeavor with its own traditions of style and strategy. Three essays are required, as well as reactions to assigned texts, and to music that the students seek out and experience. Texts include those by Amiri Baraka, Jace Clayton, Ann Powers, Pauline Oliveros, Whitney Balliett, Peter Szendy, Greg Tate, Ellen Willis, Christopher Small, Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá, Alex Ross, Mark Fisher, W. A. Mathieu, Ian Bostridge, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Marcel Proust, and Marianna Ritchey.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1042  Pop Culture Criticism  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In an era where criticism has been (mostly) democratized and art is often judged exclusively by the amount of chatter it incites, the role of the professional critic is changing, and fast – these days, even reviews are subject to reviews. In this advanced writing workshop, we’ll explore the best, most effective ways for writers to engage critically with pop culture. Should critical writing be personal or objective? Is it more important to contextualize or describe? Given the overwhelming deluge of options facing media consumers, how can critics direct and guide the conversation? Students submit four original pieces of criticism for workshop; readings may include works by Doreen St. Felix, A.O. Scott, Hanif Abdurraqib, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Caity Weaver, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Rachel Syme, Jia Tolentino, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1043  Cultural Critics on Looking and Living  (4 Credits)  
A close look at the work of three nonacademic cultural critics from our time: Rebecca Solnit, Greg Tate, and Jia Tolentino. All have stretched and shaped the current notion of what critics do. Their criticism, aimed at a readership outside universities, sometimes on a specific beat (Solnit on feminism, Tate on Black music, Tolentino on the Internet) and sometimes not, can be subjective, political, experimental, or journalistic; it begins with the format of the essay and can move toward reporting, memoir, music-making, and cartography. All three critics have two overlapping preoccupations, which the critic Parul Sehgal has described as “the ethics of living and the ethics of looking.” The ethics of living means ways of helping others achieve their dignity and human rights. The ethics of looking means uncovering history, power relationships, desire, anxiety, and other implications in the basic and profound act of looking—at musical performances, visual art, film and photography, humans in transit or under duress, and oneself. We will read books and selected essays by each critic, as well as other documents (films, lectures, interviews); we will write criticism inspired by or in response to each critic’s work, imagining it as an open system and an ongoing experiment.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1044  Criticism's Possible Futures  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Cultural criticism, first, is an impulse: taking the full measure of what's before you. Then it is a method: looking at what's underneath the subject, how it connects with what else you know, questioning assumptions and received wisdom. But it is not a form or style. In this course you'll focus on the ways that general-audience criticism can go (and has long gone) beyond the classical review or argumentative-essay model, and toward other modes: philosophy; memoir; journalism; poetry; biography or eulogy of a person, thing, place, or idea; interrogative or satirical exercise. Readings may be critical works about images, technology, music, dance, buildings, race, nostalgia, narrative, or criticism itself, by authors including Oscar Wilde, Namwali Serpell, Margaret Fuller, Teju Cole, Susan Sontag, Anne Carson, Edwin Denby, Walter Benjamin, Wayne Koestenbaum, Amiri Baraka, Svetlana Boym, Roland Barthes, Jia Tolentino, Amit Chaudhuri, and Saidiya Hartman. Written work consists of essays of varying length responding to syllabus readings and on topics of your own devising.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1045  Writing Race in Contemporary America  (4 Credits)  
In contemporary America, we have a multicultural and racially diversified population; our national image is no longer dominated by people of European descent. This is easily evidenced in our mass media and in the last U.S.Census Report where the statistics demonstrate that our African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and ?Other? populations are rapidly growing and developing. We are interbreeding, intermarrying, interracial, and interlocked. In this writing course, we will increase awareness of the phenomenon of our multicultural identities by writing personal essays, biographies, and autobiographies. We will focus on exploring our own racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as exploring this theme in readings and in a variety of films. Readings include Race and Remembrance: A Memoir by Arthur L. Johnson and Brown: The Last Discovery of America by Richard Rodriguez.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1047  Writing On Wealth and Power  (4 Credits)  
Part of the story that Americans tell themselves about themselves has to do with the Horatio Alger tales about how talent, hard work and a little luck yields success, money, status, fame and power. Going from ?rags to riches? in the span of one generation has thus become part of how we define the American dream?even as that dream recedes further and further away from the grasp of most citizens. Using autobiographies such as Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father; Frank Kofsky?s Black Music, White Business; and classic sociological works such as C. Wright Mill's The Power Elite; this writing seminar focuses on researching and writing fiction and non-fiction about ?making it in America.? Students will write experiential, narrative, and academic essays on the economic power of the men and women who have achieved or inherited it. We will also devote time in the class to discussing editing, and revising.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1048  The Age of Listening  (4 Credits)  
Humans have always listened. But listening—to music or to anything else—has often been rendered as a passive activity, as the opposite of asserting, doing, achieving. It can’t be quantified. It doesn’t leave an immediate record. It can look like wasted time. There are no Grammy awards or Pulitzer Prizes for listening. (There should be. Perhaps there will be.) This is a seminar in reading about listening and writing about it—as personal essay, philosophy, or criticism. Primarily, though not exclusively, this class is about listening to music—dance music, hip-hop, rock and roll, jazz, opera, or anything else. We will think, read, and write about about listening as physical experience of sound, and as trance-state; listening as surveillance; listening with headphones vs. collective listening; two definitions of “social listening” (listening from a particular social identity, and social media-monitoring); deep-listening exercises developed by Pauline Oliveros and other composers; listening to DJs, algorithms, and streaming media; and recent thoughts about the importance of listening in nature, politics, education, and civil society. We will also draw from outside experience, and so this class may require attendance in a sound-walk and a musical performance in which there is a particular emphasis on sound.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1059  Issues in Urban Journalism: New York City and the News  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course in “urban journalism” explores some of the ways that our city is represented in the media, primarily in print and photography. We read about the journalistic coverage of diverse people and events around New York City, examining hot-button issues surrounding race and class, and considering ways in which crime is covered in the news. Our focus on photojournalism, meanwhile, investigates intricacies and even controversies of photographic representation as we also visit and report on some of the city’s visual offerings, be they formal installations, cultural events, or impromptu art. Throughout, we direct our attention to such concerns as the mediatized representation of others, journalistic ethics, and the politics of what kinds of news stories sell papers. Guest speakers may include NYC journalists, and city-based excursions are an important part of this seminar. Our readings derive from a number of disciplines (urban studies, sociology, journalism), and authors may include Joan Didion, Henri Lefebvre and Pierre Bourdieu, as well as news articles from NYC papers and reflections by seasoned journalists, such as David Krajicek of the Daily News. This course does not teach how to be a reporter; rather, with the emphasis on critical reading, students learn to assess others’ journalistic output and to understand how that journalistic work both informs and is informed by its social and political contexts. Students write reaction pieces and academic papers, give presentations, and create a photojournalism project on a subject of their choice.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1070  Writing About Film  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Writing about movies is more than just issuing thumbs-up, thumbs-down judgments. In this class you will learn how to discuss a film's content, style, and meaning in ways that can interest even people who disagree with you. You will explore some of the many different ways there are to write about cinema, expanding your command of words by reading such critics as James Agee, Pauline Kael, James Baldwin, Molly Haskell, and others. Students will write (and rewrite) five papers ranging from brief movie reviews to a final eight-to-ten page essay.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1075  The Montage is The Message  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
A man smiles, a shot is fired, he frowns. No: A man frowns, a shot is fired, he smiles. The sequence tells all. When it comes to telling stories, the order of scenes conveys more meaning even than the scenes themselves. In this class, students will draw from film theory to learn the secrets of constructing a propulsive and persuasive non-fiction narrative. We will explore how writers make choices about what to describe and how to arrange those descriptions; and also how in making these choices, they begin (whether they intend it or not) to make an argument. Students will analyze film sequences from Eisenstein, Kubrick, and Welles, and magazine stories by Cecilia Balli, Joan Didion, Ian Frazier, Frederick Kaufman, and Lawrence Weschler. The real breakthroughs, though, will occur as students set about assembling and reassembling their own magazine articles.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1080  Writing About Dance  (4 Credits)  
This advanced writing seminar aims to train students to become critical viewers of and writers about dance of various kinds, including social and popular dance, concert dance, dance-theater, and musical-theater dance. How do we make sense of this non-verbal, ephemeral art form? And how do we communicate this in analytical and persuasive writing? How is writing itself akin to a choreographic endeavor? To pursue these questions, we will consider how space, time, and rhythm are employed in performance, and how the histories of styles might be brought to bear on our understandings of them. Readings will include works by Edwin Denby, Martha Graham, Arlene Croce, Marcia Siegel, Joan Acocella, Deborah Jowitt, Brenda Dixon-Gottschild, Thomas DeFrantz, Wendy Perron, Susan Foster, and others. We will also study the writing in some of the major dance journals in the field among them Dance Research Journal and Dance Chronicle, as well as online journals including Arts Journal, Dance Tabs, and Dance Insider. The work of the course consists of essay writing, attendance at dance concerts, and visits by guest critics.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1105  Freelance Writing  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Successful freelancers know that their days are spent cultivating and shaping story ideas, tracking down sources, parsing one story idea into three, and pitching, pitching, pitching. But where does one begin? How can new writers break in if they don't have any clips to show an editor? In this seminar, we will interrogate the art and business of freelance writing: what it takes to create a story, as well as what it takes to sell it. Writing assignments will include a variety of story types, including reviews, profiles, service stories, and personal essays, along with the all-important pitch letter. We will look to the masters of the craft (Susan Orlean, Michiko Kakutani, James Surowiecki, Katharine Boo, Elizabeth Kolbert, James Wood, Alex Ross, and more), and we will also discover reading in the real world of the newspapers and magazines students plan to solicit.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1110  Food Across Genres  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course will explore creative food writing across a number of genres. Throughout the semester, we will ask the question: who is writing, what is their relationship to food (growing it, cooking it, eating it), and how can food be used as a narrative lens? We will read food journalism, personal essays, humor, cookbook excerpts, blogs, philosophy and poetry. The course will be evenly divided between close, critical reading and discussion of various food writers' work, and experimenting with several forms of food writing ourselves. Students will write several short pieces and choose one longer piece to develop over the course of the semester. Students will workshop one another's work in class on a rotating weekly basis. Visiting lecturers will lead discussions of their particular lenses on food, its potency in various cultural contexts, and help us explore food's power as a narrative tool. Readings will include selections by writers such as Calvin Trillin, MFK Fisher, Joseph Mitchell, John T. Edge, Zora Neale Hurston, Wendell Berry, Robert Farrar Capon and Octavio Paz.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1120  The Southern Table: Place, Politics, Memory & Mythology in Foods of the American South  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
There is perhaps no region in America as valorized and contested, romanticized and politically polarizing as the South. In contemporary American food culture, the South has come to represent a number of aesthetic ideals including authenticity, craftsmanship and the particularities of place. Many even go so far as to argue that the foods of the South make up the only “true” American cuisine. Why the South? What elements of the region’s unique history inform this contemporary mindset, and what can we learn from today’s “New Southern” table about identity, politics, history and progress? How can studying the food of the South help us understand the popular mythology of our country as a whole? In this course, we will read both scholarly and popular literature as well as watch and listen to various materials that dig into Southern food culture. We will tease apart what is so unique about the region and its pockets of vernacular cuisine, both in reality and in imagination. By putting Southern food under the magnifying glass, we will tease apart how various forms of media engage with historical and contemporary issues of race, class and gender by continually asking: Who is credited with “inventing” the cuisines of the American South? From whence do signature Southern ingredients really hail, and who has prepared them? How have branding, advertising, cookbooks and television massaged the Southern narrative in order to serve and perpetuate the romantic ideals of the Old South? And in today’s “New South,” who is invited to, and who is still excluded from, the Southern table, both in reality and in popular narratives? In this unique moment of Southern food’s surge in popularity, we will pen our own stories about how the South is translated and represented gastronomically in our own locale, New York City.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1215  Writing the Other  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Writing professors often advise students, “Write what you know.” But how about writing from what you know into what you don’t know, specifically by tackling the perspective of someone who is different from you? In this course, we’ll explore a range of identities: gender, race, sexual orientation, class, age, disability, body type, and many more. How can we learn to recognize our own blind spots that prevent us from fully seeing the people and the world around us? And how can we confront and overcome our fears of causing offense in our attempts to get inside someone whose life experience we don’t share? During the course, we’ll examine how categories of “Same” and “Other” can shift wildly not only from person to person, but within each person. We’ll also look at how the process of choosing or rejecting various identity labels intersects with issues of characterization. Finally, we'll consider the possible dangers of writing about the Other, such as distortion, erasure, or stereotype. Students will produce several short pieces of creative fiction and two complete short stories (10-15 pages each) to be workshopped and then revised, each focusing on capturing a character who does not share at least one identity marker with the author. For inspiration, we’ll also read examples of work by writers like Ha Jin, Manuel Munoz, Edwidge Danticat, Victor LaValle, Lorrie Moore, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Bernard Malamud.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1220  Writing the LGBT Experience  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
It’s an exciting time in publishing, as LGBT authors and characters are no longer pushed toward the smallest houses—their books shelved in the darkest corners of the bookstore. Books like Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home are gaining mainstream appeal. But alongside this newfound recognition comes responsibility—to represent the community in particular ways, with particular agendas. And all of this is in the era, supposedly, of post-identity politics. So, while this is an exciting time, it’s also a confusing time to write LGBT characters, or to be an author of LGBT experience. For whom are we writing; how are we pigeonholed; what is silenced; and what is most true? In this class, we will read a range of both contemporary and classic LGBT authors and stories (from James Baldwin and Audre Lorde to Thea Hillman and T Cooper), to ask these types of questions. We’ll read both fiction and nonfiction, to analyze the function of the queer main character, the “gay sidekick,” the (far fewer) transgender characters in confessional narratives and novels, and the ways authors implicitly define their audience, as they write from an insider perspective or explain “the other” to a mainstream culture. Because this is a hybrid seminar/writing class, we’ll also be looking to these authors for technique; we’ll study their voice, form, and style as a way to inform our own writing of the LGBT experience. This course is open to both fiction and nonfiction writers, and to students of all gender identities and sexual orientations. There’s often tremendous pressure to “write what you know,” especially in this highly-politicized genre, but in this class, students will be encouraged to experiment imaginatively, developing characters or ideas outside their direct experience. Everyone will write one piece of literary criticism, and two pieces of either fiction or nonfiction to be workshopped in class.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1225  Cultural Criticism & the Black Aesthetic  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Cultural Criticism and the Black Aesthetic operates on the assumption that a piece of criticism is first and foremost an essay. Our reading and writing will focus on the strategies the writer employs to establish authority, construct an argument, find a balance between description and judgment, and entertain doubt as we explore the lineaments of cultural criticism. We will look at the ways in which the critic constructs a persona and establishes a bond with the reader, while employing the most effective prose style, as well as the formal and intellectual possibilities of criticism. Our central theme is the Black Aesthetic. What is it? How do we know it when we experience it? What is its relationship to racial identity and representations of race in America? How can we evaluate it in the realms of popular media and “high art,” including film, theater, music, dance, and literature? We will delve into black aesthetic values through the lens of the intersection of cultural critique and critique of culture with the objective of giving students the tools and context to produce a collection of effective criticism of the work of African American cultural producers. Readings may include works by Tricia Rose, DJ Spooky, Antonin Artaud, Edward Said, Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Hazel Carby, Roland Barthes, Ralph Ellison, Margo Jefferson, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Amiri Baraka, and Greg Tate.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1230  Writing Cross-Culturally  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this course, students will create writing that traverses identities, borders and cultures, as well as genres, as they explore and deepen their understanding of issues of form, craft and ethics. The class will read and discuss a variety of texts that center around various modes of culture crossing, such as travel and study abroad; third culture and diaspora identities; immigration and escape, and historical and/or political clashes and conflicts. Through an ongoing examination of structural and craft issues in the exemplary texts, students will make creative decisions to help write three main assignments dealing with themes of Memory, Identity and Conflict. We'll use our discussions of Memory to help focus on expository and reflective rhetorical strategies, Identity as a way to experiment with point of view and character development, and Conflict as a method for exploring structure and dramatic tension. In order to write cross-culturally about personal experiences, students will be encouraged to create texts along the spectrum between creative nonfiction and autobiographical fiction. Theoretical essays will help inform how we ethically position ourselves as writers observing cultures not (necessarily) our own in order to inform audiences and to challenge our own prejudices. Through it all, we'll consider how formal experiments across genres may help illuminate experiences and confront perceptions. Authors to be read include Gloria Anzaldua, Victoria Chang, Edwidge Danticat, Randa Jarrar, Kiese Laymon, Salman Rushdie, Amy Tan, Ocean Vuong, and Isabel Wilkerson.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1250  Creating a Magazine: A Multimedia Approach  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This pair of collaborative courses will enact Gallatin’s multidisciplinary, self-directed approach to learning, as students explore the potential of magazines as catalysts, cultural barometers, alternative communities, and forums for debate and new ideas. Through the discussion of critical texts about the history of publication, the analysis of various historical and contemporary magazines, and the development of new publications, students will learn to communicate ideas through design, editorial, and medium-specific approaches; analyze and question the features of the codex, the page, and the screen; and play with how these features affect how we read and perceive art. In the advanced writing course, students will concentrate on writing and editing for multiple platforms. In the arts workshop, students will focus on print media and design. In addition, students in both classes will have the opportunity to commission and edit both written text and art works from one another. Class meets once per week, with sessions split between discussions with designated professor and collaborative lab sessions with both classes and both professors. Lab sessions will be devoted to the conception, development, and production of publications that will each include a 32-page print prototype and new media elements. Lab days will also enable students to meet with guest speakers from the worlds of publishing and design; and go on field trips to the offices of contemporary magazines and relevant institutions and archives.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1260  Writing the Fantastic  (4 Credits)  
Tzvetan Todorov defines the fantastic as a "subgenre of literary works characterized by the ambiguous presentation of supernatural forces." Donald Antrim, on the other hand, regards the fantastic not as a genre, but as a condition shared between author and reader: “a potential state” in which “everything is vivid, yet nothing is clearly defined,” where “the fantastical and the real are equally questionable, equally challenged by one another.” Frankenstein’s monster comes to life. Alice goes down the rabbit hole. How can [an] author make these events seem not only uncannily plausible, but even expectable—the sudden eruption of some carefully encrypted logic operating beneath our conscious awareness? How do we ground the fantastic in enough realism to sustain the reader’s suspension of disbelief? This class will explore the fantastic as the strangest and most explicit demonstration of what literary technique can achieve in any genre. We will focus on various kinds of world-making, from magical realms to dystopias to refracted versions of “realism.” Special attention will be devoted to how writers use altered states of consciousness like trauma, intoxication, and psychosis to create a hallucinatory space between the supernatural and the deeply improbable. Readings will also span a wide spectrum of cultures and historical periods, from canonical works like Frankenstein to Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities to contemporary novels like Ben Okri’s The Famished Road, Joy Williams’ The Changeling, and Donald Antrim’s The Hundred Brothers. Assignments will include several creative writing prompts and longer pieces of original fiction for workshop.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1295  Creative Nonfiction: From Idea to Essay  (4 Credits)  
Some of the strongest nonfiction writing out there—whether cultural criticism, the reported personal essay, an historical nonfiction narrative, or piece of long-form investigative journalism—grew from the flimsiest of tendrils: a hunch, a spark, an enthusiasm. In this advanced creative nonfiction writing course, you’ll learn how to hack your own unique brain into an idea-generating machine, and pair each idea with the genre that best suits it. Course readings will include essays by great practitioners past and present, among them James Baldwin, Eula Biss, Barbara Ehrenreich, Darryl Pinckney, Richard Rodriguez, Rebecca Solnit, Alice Walker, Ellen Willis, and Virginia Woolf. We will analyze these works to figure out how each idea was brought to fruition, and learn tricks of the trade that will in turn fuel your idea-generator. The class will be a combination of class discussions, lectures, and workshops.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1300  Creative Nonfiction  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The best creative nonfiction borrows several elements other genres. From fiction, it utilizes strong character development, well crafted scenes, and a tangible narrative arc. From poetry, it borrows voice, nuance, image, and concision. From journalism, it employs thorough research, live reporting and a writer’s quizzical, intelligent stance. This class explores creative nonfiction’s unique synergy through reading and writing three of the genre’s signature forms: the memoir, the personal essay, and the literary profile. We will begin by reading masters and new voices working in these forms and will then try our hands at the craft. Along the way, we’ll study story form, structure, argument, and how to utilize research and reporting as a means of story-telling. Emphasis will be on reading, writing, and revision, as two out of three of student stories will require major rewriting. Students will also learn effective editing strategies by working closely with their peers and will come away from the course with a thorough introduction to the genre’s creative possibilities.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1301  Advanced Creative Nonfiction  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This is a course for students with some experience in reporting, researching and writing nonfiction, who want to experiment in literary, long-form journalism. Students will choose a small culture or community on which to focus throughout the semester. We’ll start by writing one profile of a member of this community, developing interviewing skills, and learning about voice and point of view. We’ll also write a reflective piece on interrogating the ways we explore this community without exploiting, exoticizing or oversimplifying our sources. Then students will move on to one major work of literary feature-writing—the bulk of the semester’s work—which will be written in sections and go through several revisions. Borrowing the best tools from fiction writing—like character development, a strong arc, and engaging scenes—these features will be rich in narra-tive and as complex as the communities they portray. Students will learn advanced re-porting techniques, story organization and editing skills, and debate the ethical issues inherent to truth-gathering. Readings will likely include Joseph Mitchell, Katherine Boo, Alex Kotlowitz, Leon Dash, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc and Peter Hessler.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1303  Writing Nonfiction on Social Change  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this course, we’ll examine nonfiction from times of conflict and crisis to help us write essays and critiques in which we witness, report, advocate, question, and/or desire change in our own era. To provide inspiration, we’ll read essays on 9/11 and its aftermath, Occupy Wall Street, LGBTQ Rights, Black Lives Matter, the 2016 election, #MeToo, COVID-19, climate change, and other issues. We'll read authors such as Michelle Alexander, Gloria Anzaldua, James Baldwin, Ta-Nehesi Coates, Edwidge Danticat, Joan Didion, Carolyn Forche, Kiese Laymon, Audre Lorde, and George Orwell, to study their use of formal tools such as narration, observation, analysis, reflection, and argument in exploring avenues of change in the world around them. How do writers bring a personal voice to writing a political essay? And how do reporters balance opinion and research to show the need for change? These questions are considered as you write 1) an essay centered on an issue that you care about, and 2) a report that you write from observation about a social or political movement. Finally, writing an argument or advocacy piece on a public debate allows you to incorporate many of the lessons from the semester. Revision is part of our process, guided by peer reviews.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1304  The Art of The Personal Essay  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The personal essay is a flexible genre that often incorporates rumination, memoir, narrative, portrait, anecdote, diatribe, scholarship, fantasy and moral philosophy. The title of Montaigne?s Essais (?attempts"), published in 1580, suggests the tentative and exploratory nature of this form as well as its freedom. The hallmark of the personal essay is its intimacy?the sharing of the writer?s observations and reflections with a reader, establishing a dialogue on subjects that range from the mundane to autobiographical and political meditations to reflections on abstract concepts and moral dilemmas. Style, shape, and intellectual depth lend the personal essay its drama, charm, and its ability to provoke thought. In this course, we will read and write personal essays that explore ?persona,? ?tone,? and ?voice? in dialogue with concepts such as ?the self,? ?personal identity,? and ?sincerity.? Readings may include essays by Seneca, Michel de Montaigne, Charles Lamb, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Wole Soyinka, Natalia Ginsburg, James The personal essay is a flexible genre that often incorporates rumination, memoir, narrative, portrait, anecdote, diatribe, scholarship, fantasy and moral philosophy. The title of Montaigne?s Essais (?attempts"), published in 1580, suggests the tentative and exploratory nature of this form as well as its freedom. The hallmark of the personal essay is its intimacy?the sharing of the writer?s observations and reflections with a reader, establishing a dialogue on subjects that range from the mundane to autobiographical and political meditations to reflections on abstract concepts and moral dilemmas. Style, shape, and intellectual depth lend the personal essay its drama, charm, and its ability to provoke thought. In this course, we will read and write personal essays that explore ?persona,? ?tone,? and ?voice? in dialogue with concepts such as ?the self,? ?personal identity,? and ?sincerity.? Readings may include essays by Seneca, Michel de Montaigne, Charles Lamb, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Wole Soyinka, Natalia Ginsburg, James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Alice Walker, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Gloria Anzaldua.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1305  The Art of The Personal Essay  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The personal essay is a flexible genre that often incorporates rumination, memoir, narrative, portrait, anecdote, diatribe, scholarship, fantasy and moral philosophy. The title of Montaigne’s Essais (“attempts"), published in 1580, suggests the tentative and exploratory nature of this form as well as its freedom. The hallmark of the personal essay is its intimacy—the sharing of the writer’s observations and reflections with a reader, establishing a dialogue on subjects that range from the mundane to autobiographical and political meditations to reflections on abstract concepts and moral dilemmas. Style, shape, and intellectual depth lend the personal essay its drama, charm, and its ability to provoke thought. In this course, we will read and write personal essays, and, in the process, explore how writers create “persona,” “tone,” and “voice.” We will also consider concepts such as “the self,” “personal and collective identity and identification," "subjectivity" and “sincerity.” Readings may include essays by Seneca, Michel de Montaigne, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Jorge Louis Borges, Natalia Ginsburg, James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Alice Walker, Jamaica Kincaid, Maxine Hong Kingston, Adrienne Rich, and Hanif Kureishi.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1306  The Courage to Sound Like Ourselves  (4 Credits)  
Beginning with a careful reading of Joan Didion’s “On Self-Respect” (1961), and through ongoing considerations of other personal essays, this advanced writing course asks students to reckon with the essential value of their own mind—their thinking—in developing a narrative voice that can develop over a lifetime. In light of what’s been called the “radical critique of interiority and autonomy” carried out by much of literary theory, this course makes an effort to revalue the self at the heart of self-respect. We ask: What happens when we hand our thoughts over to our voice? Why do we believe what we believe? Do we have the courage—even the “courage of our mistakes,” as Didion writes—to sound like ourselves? Students will be required to write three personal essays, one that draws evidence primarily from their lives, one that engages critically with texts, and a third that situates the writer in the midst of a social, cultural, or political movement or issue. Readings will include the scholar Lisa Ruddick (quoted above), and essayists Leslie Jamison, Zora Neale Hurston, Zadie Smith, Cheryl Strayed, Francine Prose, and Marilynne Robinson, among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1307  Finding a Voice: The Personal Essay  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this course we will consider the personal essay as an art of narrative, a mode of storytelling that gives rise to questions about both the nature of writing and of factual reporting. How does narrative arise from observation and reportage? What sort of warrant as to strict truthfulness should the reader expect from the essayist? To what extent ought the writer?s viewpoint be grounded in the voice of personal reflection, the ?I,? and to what degree does even that commitment shade into fiction? Reading and writing essays on subjects that range from the mundane to the autobiographical to political, literary critical, and philosophical meditations, we will consider how writers tell nonfictional stories about themselves and others by selecting certain events and images, how writers use their writing to come to self-awareness, and how writers may cover up or omit important facts in the construction of a literary persona. Readings may include selections from works by such authors as Samuel Johnson, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Virginia Woolf, Junichiro Tanizaki, Walter Benjamin, C. G. Jung, Janet Malcolm, Jorge Luis Borges, Wole Soyinka, Mary McCarthy, James Baldwin, Joan Didion and Alice Walker.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1308  Crafting Personal Essays and Fiction  (4 Credits)  
Voice, characterization, dialogue, pacing, point of view, imagery, structure?these elements of craft are indispensable to both the personal essayist and fiction writer. We will learn how to use a writer?s tools to shape essays drawn from your life as well as short stories and novel chapters spun from your imagination. We will use exercises to jumpstart your writing and revision to polish it. In this cross-genre course we will write, read and workshop personal essays and fiction. Texts may include essays by Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, Jonathan Lethem, Julio Cortazar, Ha Jin, Nathan Englander and Junot Diaz among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1311  Taken from Life: Turning Memories Into Fiction  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
?Write the stories that harass you,? the writer Grace Paley used to tell her students. Those stories are often the ones imprinted upon the writer?s memory. In this workshop we will focus upon the transformative processes writers engage in when they turn their life experiences into fiction, the shaping and selecting that are essential, the mysterious and crucial way voice evokes the character of the first-person narrator. Students will be assigned a series of brief memory exercises; they will choose the real-life material that feels most urgent to them as the basis for short stories or for the opening pages of novels that will be shared with the class as they progress and are revised into final form. The class will also look at two writers with two different approaches to autobiographical fiction: They will read Virginia Woolf?s memoir essays in Moments of Being and her novel To the Lighthouse, and Jack Kerouac?s Visions of Gerard and On the Road, as well as selections from his journals and letters.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1312  The Autobiographical Essay  (4 Credits)  
The autobiographical essay is a wide-ranging form, encompassing personal experiences of all kinds, from the memory of a person or place to a recollection of a beloved pastime or major event. Oftentimes, the personal connects to larger issues of cultural or historical importance, but whatever the purpose or theme, the autobiographical essay speaks to us about what it means to be human. From the outset students in this course are treated like writers. They will decide on the subject they write about and the approach they take. No subject is too trivial and no approach off limits—it is possible to write about anything in this form that is sturdy and elastic, can narrate and describe, make a point and accommodate much else besides. The test of an autobiographical essay is its ability to engage the reader and communicate the nature of lived experience. Students will workshop their essays in class, will comment on the essays of their classmates and will meet with the instructor in conference at least two times over the semester. Short writing assignments over the course of the semester will focus on specific elements of craft. Readings will be chosen from essays, memoirs, diaries and letters by Joan Didion, Maxine Hong Kingston, Vladimir Nabokov, Annie Dillard, James Baldwin, Elizabeth Bishop, Patti Smith, Mary Karr, Siri Hustvedt, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Rebecca Solnit, Salman Rushdie, Valeria Luiselli, Zadie Smith and Joe Brainard among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1314  Outsider in the City: Writing Your New York Story  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
New York has always inspired writing about people finding their feet in this vast metropolis. This course invites you to discover writers who have used New York as a setting or as a controlling metaphor to create stories and essays and to use field trips as an inspiration to write your own. We will look at how different writers have developed their representations of New York. We will study the city's glamorous gala goers, it teeming ethnicities, its under-classes, its vibrant diversity and accompanying tensions. We will consider how the city, its people and its spaces are mediated and created through fiction and nonfiction and consider common themes and connections in the many literary iterations of New York. Simultaneously, we will try and imagine our own New York and people it with our own characters and events we create and through a blog that connects the experience of the texts with the site visits. Readings may include Jennifer Egan, Bernard Malamud, Edwidge Danticat, Gish Jen, Atticus Lish, Oscar Hujelos, Colson Whitehead, Ta-Nahesi Coates, Akhil Sharma and Suketu Mehta.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1315  Exploring the Possibilities of Travel Writing  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this creative writing workshop, we unearth the wide range of creative possibilities available to practitioners of the much-misunderstood genre of travel literature. In addition to developing practical skills of research and crafting sentences, we consider how the struggle to capture settings with words reveals larger truths about not only the places we visit, but also the people who inhabit them (including ourselves). Other issues we examine include the ethical dilemmas of travel writing, the relationship of place of origin to destination, and the thorny question of the “authentic” travel experience. Students craft four original pieces during the term that represent four different genres of travel literature. We begin with two shorter pieces and then work toward creating a longer research-based non-fiction feature. Finally, we conclude with a work of short fiction. For inspiration, we do short exercises and analyze work by writers like D. H. Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, Patricia Highsmith, Bruce Chatwin, W. G. Sebald, Mary Gordon, Jhumpa Lahiri, Barack Obama, as well as contemporary working travel writers.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1316  Telling Truths:The Skill of Autobiography  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
How can one tell the "truth" about one's life in narrative form? In this course we will explore the pleasures and dangers of telling stories about our lives through writing autobiographical essays, as well as through reading the autobiographies of selected others. Readings may include texts by Janet Frame, Nancy Mairs, Mary Karr, and David Sedaris. We will analyze the way in which self-narrative is constructed from the tangled materials of real life, how we read and understand the life writing of others, and how the stories of others can influence our own. Topics include authenticity, memory, identity, voice, point of view, and relationships.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1317  Only Connect: Strategies for Writing  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The late W.G. Sebald perfected a sublime art of connection-teasing out associations between ancient snapshots, newspaper clippings, and the words of others. His elegantly haunting books (which blurred novel, history, and memoir) couldn't be more different from the typical posts that proliferate in the so-called blogosphere. Yet Internet writing, with its hyperlinks and screen-grabs, calls upon a magpie instinct that Sebald and other illustrious writers would instantly recognize. This course takes students on a tour of writing methods old and new, imparting a ravenous approach to composition useful for work in any genre: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and the borderlands of our virtual reality. Classes will focus on the use of images in text, the cento, the footnote, the double-jointed review, and more. Writing will include frequent in-class experiments and several longer assignments. Students will read works by Nicholson Baker, Alison Bechdel, Harry Stephen Keeler, Raymond Queneau, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1321  Travel Writing  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
A sense of place, dialogue and dialect, the creation of a narrative through a sequence of anecdotes: these are some of the particular demands in travel writing. Students will be required to take a few short trips in the New York area in order to experience an ethnic neighborhood or a cultural milieu that is not familiar to them. When writing their pieces they will practice the literary skills that convey adventure and sensory impressions while incorporating a fair amount of factual information and historical background. They will look for the unique, revealing detail, and learn to exploit the value of the unexpected encounter. They will discover that there are many ways to write about a journey, and many different reasons to read a travel story. Writings of professionals we study in this class include excerpts from Paul Theroux, The Great Railway Bazaar; Alexandra Fuller, Don?t Let?s Go to the Dogs Tonight; Dervla Murphy, Full Tilt; Rory Stewart, The Places in Between; and some magazine pieces.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1324  The Journal in The City  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Literary journalists have long been inspired by the urban muse. Paris, London, Berlin, Prague and New York have nurtured such noted journalists as Rilke, Woolf, Kafka, Walter Benjamin and Allen Ginsberg. As we look into the journals of these intriguing writers we will immerse ourselves in the New York City milieu, asking what is the impact of the city on the text, as well as examining the effect of the city on our own journals. As writers, how do we interact with the city? Whom do we become in our journals in the city? We will keep and develop literary journals for the duration of the course: our “New York City Journals.”
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1326  The Letter as Literature  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The letter as a genre of literature is situated in a middle space between private and public discourse. This writing seminar will inhabit the “space of the letter” to experiment with the letter-format as a unique modality of self-inscription. We will examine the “space of the letter” as an especially productive location for writing, and the literary letter as a vehicle with the potential to transport our writing from personal communication to literary work. We will theorize the letter by reading other people’s mail, such as Sylvia Plath’s “Letters Home,” Kafka’s “Letter to My Father,” and Rilke’s “Letters on Cezanne,” letters written as literary works, and letters never intended to be read. We will investigate the rhetoric, psychology and economy of the letter, a trajectory that will take us through the dead letter office (Derrida’s “Post Card”) and into the realm of blackmail (Poe’s “Purloined Letter”). As a community of writers we will “send and receive” letters in various literary formats, and take our place on the cutting edge with the electronic letter as it shifts the paradigm of this familiar, but strange, literary genre.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1328  Writing The Double  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Maurice Blanchot observed, ?When I am alone, someone is there.? In this writing course, we will get acquainted with the "someone" who haunts (and sometimes sabotages) the scene of writing, the ?Writing-I? who always participates in our ?solo act? of writing. Writing from the place of the double, in subjective genres (the memoir, the letter, the confessional poem, the interior monologue), we will experience and analyze the writer's ?double bind.? We will also observe the ?split-subject? in some well-known ?double-writers? such as Rilke (Malte: Journal of My Other Self), Borges (Borges & I), Kafka (The Metamorphosis), Conrad (The Secret Sharer), and Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray). In a workshop format, students will work with a ?double,? writing and discussing a number of ?doppelgnger? pieces, and will have the opportunity to develop a substantial work of fictional duplicity over the course of the semester. As our guides to the topography of the double, we will consult theorists such as Blanchot himself, Kristeva (the split subject), Freud (the Narcissus complex), Lacan (the mirror stage) and Jung (the Shadow), and we will not avoid Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1329  Writing The Fragment  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This writing seminar will explore the fragment as a literary genre and as a modality for literary production. Our engagement with the fragment will focus on interruption as a force for generating writing, a dynamic that leaves in its wake literary debris to be collected and recouped. Revisiting our own literary scenes of destruction we will develop a writing technique based on bricolage. Using the writing workshop as a literary archeological dig we will learn to recognize our usable fragments, to reconfigure and recontextualize them into revitalized works. (Students will bring fragments from their own work to the project.) We will look at some famous literary fragments such as the classic “Anaximander Fragment” and the remains of Sappho’s odes on love. Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” Eliot’s “Wasteland,” Rilke’s “Archaic Torso of Apollo,” and selections from Benjamin’s monumental bricolage-work will figure in our itinerary among the ruins. Theoretical writings may include Said's “Beginnings” and Blanchot's “Writing the Disaster.” Students will revisit and redeploy their own literary fragments and will also work within the genre of the “intentional fragment.”
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1330  Writing On Borderlines  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course will examine "borderline cases," those types of writing that balance precariously between one genre and another, for example, between fiction and non-fiction. We will look into such literary hybrids as the prose poem (Baudelaire et al.); journalistic-fiction (J. Barnes, Didion, D.F. Wallace); fictional journals (Rilke, Nin); such literary imposters as the faux-autobiography (Stein/Toklas), the discovered manuscript (Borges) and the imaginary portrait (Pater). We will attempt to distinguish and work with what Virginia Woolf calls (in her essay on biography) the truth of fact and the truth of fiction. Students will have the opportunity to engage in various borderline writing exercises and to bring one original borderline case to conclusion by the end of the course.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1331  The Voyage: Writing About Travel  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Beginning with readings of contemporary travel writers, we will move backwards in history to explore the theme of the voyage in literature, and at the same time write about our own journeys past and present. This course will explore travel accounts, novels, poems, stories, and plays by authors from Latin America, Europe, Asia, and North America. We will ask how modern works permit us to reinterpret acknowledged classics, and better understand the encounter between self and other. Our discussions of the rhythms of departure, progression, arrival, and return in texts from different times and cultures will form the basis of our writing about the voyage. Readings may include works by Peter Matthiesen, Toni Morrison, Pablo Neruda, Basho, Shakespeare, and Homer, as well as brief selections by Pico Iyer, Elizabeth Bishop, Jorge Luis Borges, Edith Wharton, Arthur Rimbaud, and Friedrich Hlderlin. Students may write in various genres, both critical and creative.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1332  Writing The Strange  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this advanced writing class students will approach writing from off-center, by taking an oblique perspective. We will examine the attempts of such writers as Pound, Stein , Mallarme, Duras, Ponge and Robbes-Grillet to achieve originality by “making it new”, by “making it strange”, by defamiliarizing their subject matter. Our writing projects will be situated at the intersection of the absurd and the surreal, and may incorporate techniques of other media such as the cubist/surrealist painters, the French graffiti artists, bricolage and the found-object. We will risk nausea with Sartre and vertigo with the Vorticists. Students will apply their exercises in the strange to “estranging” a work-in-progress as the culmination of the course. Theorists may include Deleuze, Guattari, Derrida and Baudrillard.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1333  Writing The Family  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Many of us want to write memoirs, but families—good or bad—are loaded territory. How do we navigate wisely? In this class we’ll look at writers who have done it, such as James Baldwin, Annie Dillard, Vivian Gornick, Richard Rodriguez, and Sister Souljah, to trace their fault lines and unearth their strategies for remaining faithful to their readers while truthful to their lived experience. We’ll look at issues of voice and point of view, and how to gain enough emotional distance from characters to make them both believable and three-dimensional. We’ll write and workshop several family scenes, building them into a few full-length stories or, if the student wishes, chapters for a larger work. Readings may include Modern American Memoirs, edited by Annie Dillard and Cort Conley; Heaven’s Coast, Mark Doty; Name All the Animals, Alison Smith; The Women, Hilton Als; and An American Childhood, Annie Dillard.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1334  The Writer's Discourse  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
“What must the writer remember?” Maurice Blanchot asks. “Himself when he is not writing.” In this class, we will discover the infinite conversation that writers often have with themselves and their own writing. As we write our own texts, we will engage with theorists/writers and discover how they have interrogated themselves and their works. The modality of our project will be writerly self-reflection: discoursing with ourselves while writing, reading ourselves in our own texts, and engaging with a work-in-progress by means of a conversation with it. Readings may include works by Barthes, Blanchot, Derrida, Heidegger, and Deleuze and Guattari.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1336  Writing Your Ancestry  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This workshop will give students the opportunity to practice elements of creative nonfiction through a multi-faceted approach to writing on ancestry and cultural heritage. The main goal will be a written exploration of the self to consider wider issues of history, community, identity, place, and family. The major assignments will be structured around various tasks: a personal essay will help to define themes and set scenes in the present; memoir writing will involve mining your memories of family to identify possible leads into the past; a reported piece will entail interviews of family members, historical research, and/or a visit to an ancestral site. These essays will be developed gradually with the help of shorter at-home assignments and in-class exercises on style, structure, and strategy. Revision will be built into the process, and we will read each other's work and give supportive feedback throughout the semester. Likely authors to be read and discussed for inspiration will include Ian Frazier, Honor Moore, Lawrence Weschler, Sarah Vowell, Bliss Broyard, Brenda Lin, Tara Bray Smith, and D.J. Waldie.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1339  Ripped from the Headlines: Current Events in Fiction  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In 1961 Philip Roth wrote: "the American writer…has his hands full in trying to understand, and then describe, and then make credible much of the American reality." Is he right? Can a literary imagination encompass its social and political moment? Does it thereby lose its hold on universal truths? Or is there a perspective on and insight into current events only fiction can offer? We'll consider these and other questions through readings of novels and short stories that depict their contemporary political and cultural events. We'll pay particular attention to the ways these writers borrow, subvert, or reinvent journalistic (or "new" journalistic) techniques. Students will be expected to produce several written exercises, as well as two longer fictional pieces (short stories or novel chapters) that take current events as a starting point for narrative. These will be discussed through in-class workshops. Readings may include John Updike's Rabbit Redux, Joan Didion's Democracy, Don Delillo's Mao II, and Brett Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero, as well as short stories by Grace Paley, Alicia Erian and Martin Amis.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1341  Oral Narratives Oral Narratives  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this workshop, we’ll explore how oral tradition – through performance, interviewing, and oral history – can inform the craft of written stories. From ancient epic poetry to the authors of This American Life, students will consider how storytelling has given way to printed narrative, and vice versa, as they first develop their own autobiographical monologues and then write the narratives of others. Through the reading of monologues, interviews, and oral histories in various formats (poetry, performance text, literary journalism, memoir, archive, theatre, video and film), students will consider the motives for placing spoken or spontaneous language down on the page to read as a permanent text. Journalistic interviews with a family or community member will inform an assignment to write a profile, as students determine how to best represent their own voice alongside the speech of their subject. We'll also use oral history methodology to collect the accounts of a group of people, examining conflicts and discrepancies among individual stories as an opportunity to explore form. Students will then use transcriptions of their interviews to inform a historical piece in a genre (or mixed genre) of their choice: poetry, nonfiction, or performance text. Authors to be read include Anna Deavere Smith, Studs Terkel, Spalding Gray, Sherman Alexie and Ntozake Shange. We'll also visit an oral history archive as well as mine the crafted "archives" of Def Poetry Jam, the Moth live storytelling series, and Meem (a Beirut-based queer women's group) for inspiration.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1350  Writing for Young Readers  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course guides students in writing fiction for readers age ten through adolescence. While writing, workshopping, and revising, students consider both theoretical and practical issues of writing for young people. We explore the history of children?s literature and examine the academic journal Children?s Literature, the newsletter of the Society of Children?s Book Writers and Illustrators, the American Library Association?s Newbery Awards and various bestseller lists. Each student presents an analysis of a favorite book. Texts we read and analyze as models will likely include such ?contemporary classics? for younger readers as Lois Lowry?s Anastasia Krupnik, Karen Cushman?s The Midwife?s Apprentice, Walter Dean Myers?s Monster, and Francesa Lia Block?s Weetzie Bat; and recent works that are both popular and critically acclaimed, such as Mark Haddon?s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Sherman Alexie?s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and E. Lockhart?s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. We may attend a reading by a writer or editor of fiction for young readers; a writer and/or a publishing professional will be our guest speaker.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1355  Writing for Children: Magic, Memoir, and Mystery  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered Spring  
Children's literature contains an astonishing breadth of genres and voices. In Writing for Children, we'll be covering familiar tropes, such as orphans, time travel, ghosts, magic, dystopias, and the wilderness, reading everything from classics such as Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House on the Prairie" to "From the Mixed up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" to contemporary works, including Louise Erdrich's "The Birchbark House." Along the way, we will also explore the complexities of race, class, and feminism in children's literature, as well as its changing role in the canon and marketplace. Students will workshop their own writing, and are invited to include novels-in-progress. The class will also include visits from leading children's authors, agents, and critics in the field.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1357  Writing for Children: Series, Sequels, and Storylines  (4 Credits)  
Children’s series are able to tackle history, culture, and inheritance in a way a single volume can’t—telling the story of, for example, the settling of the American West after the Civil War in Little House, or the Civil Rights movement’s progress in a small southern town in Ludell, or the turn-of-the-century Jewish Lower East Side in All-of-a-Kind Family. Series also track the amazing growth of the writers themselves, such as Madeleine L’Engle with A Wrinkle in Time, which develops into the sci-fi domestic drama A Swiftly Tilting Planet, in which Meg and Calvin are expecting their first child. (Spoiler!) Continuing narratives expand perspectives and eras, growing with their characters across time, and alongside these classics themselves students will read intimate critical studies and biography to place the work in its culture and context. They will also hear from contemporary children’s authors who have tackled this challenging form, and will work on their own beginning series, crafting characters and plotlines for a larger work.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1358  Writing About Childhood  (4 Credits)  
This course focuses on how we can write in authentic, informed and engaging ways about childhood. Children find many ways to articulate the events of their lives and the feelings and understandings associated with these events. In talking to peers, siblings, adults and themselves; through dramatic play; through artwork and writing; and, sometimes, through discussions at school or in other programs, children can begin to engage in the lifelong struggle to understand themselves and the world. By the time, however, we are old enough to think self-consciously and abstractly about childhood, we are no longer children. Many writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, scientists, psychologists, sociologists and educators have tried to capture the experience of childhood in their work, yet each has struggled, whether self-consciously or not, with their adult perspective and with the limits of their own identity, culture, time period, discipline or art. How then do we truly understand and document what it means to be a child when our vision is so enormously influenced by the lens of adulthood? By examining, discussing and writing about works from many disciplines, students will develop their own voices and refine their skills in being able to articulate what it means to experience childhood. Students will write weekly in a variety of forms, from short response papers and observations to longer critical and personal essays, as well as creative works.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1360  The Path of the Storyteller: Writing Children's Fiction  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
From Charlotte’s Web to the Harry Potter series, the enduring works of children’s fiction epitomize the twin virtues that all classic novels share: a great story, beautifully told. Through reading and discussion of assigned texts, and in-class workshopping of the students’ own novels in progress, this class offers writers of fiction for the middle-grade reader (ages 8 through early adolescence) a solid foundation in the principles of storytelling and the tools of the writer’s craft. Through writing exercises and close reading of assigned books, we’ll examine character development, point of view, and other elements of fiction. We’ll improve the quality of our prose by learning to recognize common errors and revise our drafts into polished, finished works. Assigned readings are drawn from the best of children’s literature and trace the development of the form, from early 20th century classics (Tolkien’s The Hobbit) to later novels by E. B. White, Madeleine L’Engle, and others. We’ll end by looking at work by contemporary writers such as Neil Gaiman, Louis Sachar and Thanhha Lai.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1364  The Versatile Storyteller: Writing Young Adult Fiction  (4 Credits)  
Young adult fiction has become a rich literary classification covering all genres, from fantasy to literary fiction to magical realism. The one unifying theme across all YA is a sense of hope in the conclusion-for the protagonist, her community, or even mankind. This class offers specific units which introduce sub-genres of YA through assigned readings and discussion. We will also workshop students' corresponding YA novel excerpts. We will pay close attention to voice and dialogue, as well as study and practice the importance of world building. We will also discuss the importance of representation and the increased visibility of diverse characters in young adult fiction. Assigned readings will focus on young adult literature from the last twenty years and be broken up into sub-genres including fantasy and science fiction (Dread Nation By Justina Ireland and Extraordinary Means By Robin Schneider), literary fiction (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz and The Sun Is Also A Star By Nicola Yoon), and historical fiction (The Cure For Dreaming By Cat Winters and The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton).
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1365  Reading & Writing LGBT YA Fiction: From Annie on My Mind to They Both Die in the End  (4 Credits)  
Young adult fiction has been experiencing a boom in LGBT representation in the last ten years, expanding not only into all genres (science fiction, magical realism, historical fiction), but also across racial and socioeconomic lines. Special attention will be paid in this course to intersectionality and how themes of coming out, defining or redefining your gender identity, and navigating the LGBT landscape is affected by race, gender, and class. In addition to reading and analyzing contemporary YA texts we will also workshop students' corresponding YA chapters and short stories. The workshop will focus on developing voice and crafting realistic dialogue, as well as the importance of world-building. Assigned readings will focus on both classic YA LGBT literature including Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden and Boy Meets Boy By David Levithan, as well as recent additions to the cannon including The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue By Mackenzi Lee, Everything Leads to You By Nina Lacour, They Both Die in the End By Adam Silvera and If I Was Your Girl Meredith Russo.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1370  Writing About Love  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Rather than focus on one genre in their reading and writing, student writing in this course will be inspired by a theme: the nature and meanings of romantic love as both private feeling and social ideology. Love has assumed an enormously important place in Western culture in the last two centuries, shaping expectations of what the good life should be, as well as evoking anxiety about how to achieve the fulfillment of that dream. Students may try varied forms of writing about romance in our modern world, including writing about their own emotions and experiences, literary analysis, cultural observation, and opinion. Accordingly, our texts will likewise be diverse, and may include memoir, letters and diaries; philosophy; pop culture; sociological studies of gender and romance; and cultural theory about dating. You will have a great deal of choice as to the type of writing you would like to do, but out of five pieces, at least one non-fiction essay and one creative piece will be required. Classes will be devoted to responding to the texts to inspire ideas for writing, intensive workshopping of drafts in student groups, and personal conferences with the instructor.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1425  Translation Practicum  (4 Credits)  
This introductory practicum will involve a weekly submission: a piece selected in an original global language and a draft of that same piece brought into English. Fluency is not required, but student should have working knowledge of a language other than This introductory practicum will involve a weekly submission: a piece selected in an original global language and a draft of that same piece brought into English. Fluency is not required, but student should have working knowledge of a language other than English. Some genres explored may include recipes, directions, obituaries, short prose pieces, and poems. What are the challenges and limits of translation? What may be gained? What may be lost? Students writing samples will be submitted, read, and discussed weekly. Handouts of samples will feature a piece in its original language and then versions of it in translation.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1430  Literary Translation  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course will introduce students to the craft of literary translation and the many ways it can help them become more innovative writers. Students will work individually and together to choose authors not yet known in English whose work strikes the students as distinctive and exciting. We will discuss how the process of choosing a writer they admire and bringing that author’s work into English is a way to explore what makes a piece of writing stand out from other works of the same period. We will talk about translating tone, humor, voice and innuendo and explore how students might experiment with these aspects in their own work. Over the course of the semester, we’ll workshop translations together with original writing the students generated while working on their translations. We'll also look at the work of leading writer-translators like Christian Hawkey, Sawako Nakayasu, Lydia Davis, and Charles Simic and discuss the aesthetic connections between the authors they've translated and their own prose and poetry.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1460  Race, Social Justice, and Adult Literacy  (4 Credits)  
This course combines volunteer work in New York City adult literacy and English as a second language (ESL) programs with an academic introduction to the philosophy, history, and current issues of adult literacy. An important emphasis of the class is to critically examine adult literacy through a social justice lens. Students work as volunteer teachers of reading and writing oral English or mentors at such institutions as the University Settlement, Make the Road NY, Turning Point, Arab American, Association of NY, Friends of Island Academy, and CASES. In class they read about and discuss such key issues as adult literacy education policy and the impact on the field - including instruction, implications of being marginalized by educational systems, instructional approaches developed for adults; and the steps that might be taken to build support for high-quality, adult basic-skills programs. Throughout the course, students relate such issues to their own on-site experiences in class discussion, teach-ins, article shares, role-playing, and create a portfolio of writing that includes on-site observations, lesson plans, reflections, a book review, and a policy brief. Readings may include Making Meaning, Making Change (Auerbach); We Make the Road by Walking (Horton and Freire); Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Freire), The Hidden Curriculum (Anyon), as well as other articles and journals (Focus on Basics and New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education).
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1475  Law and War  (4 Credits)  
In this class, students will develop their own writerly voice in relationship to the public, political, and academic discourses of armed conflict, law, human rights and diplomacy. By exploring and experimenting in genres of writing like the op-ed, the NGO advocacy report and the parable we address the legal questions that increasingly frame our debates about warfare and develop a critical awareness of the strengths, limits and blind spots of the law-and-war discourse. The questions this class will investigate include: How does law justify and coordinate the use of lethal force? What makes a “just war” and how does it differ from “holy war” and “humanitarian intervention”? What has the UN Charter’s proscription of aggressive war meant in practice and theory? Do battlefield “rules of engagement” have the potential to cleanse war of “war crimes” or do such rules undermine the ability to fight to victory–or is neither the case? The syllabus will include not only conventional academic writing from several fields (theology, economics, law, history) but also military field reports, soldierly and diplomatic memoirs and newspaper war reporting.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1480  Can a Settler Turn Indigenous? The Perspective of Palestine/Israel  (2 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this reading and writing course, students will be asked to help the instructor to formulate and answer some key questions that are embedded in the journalistic coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian situation and in the permanent quest for a "solution". The course will involve a three tiered and intertwined process: setting foundations for the understanding of the Israeli/Palestinian situation; problematizing the definitions used to describe Israelis and Palestinians, and developing students’ interviewing/writing skills. We will read Palestinian and Israeli prose to elucidate our questions. Students will use this literature as the starting point for practicing the craft of interviewing. They will then conduct independent interviews in the NYC area, using them to develop a final essay. Works of the following authors will be read: Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, Amos Oz, Edward Said, Ghassan Kanafani, Sahar Khalifa, Adaniya Shibli, Emil Habbibi, Ronit Matalon, Orli Castel Bloom, Anton Shammas, Rashid Khalidi, Benny Morris, Hanna Levy Hass, and Amira Hass.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1485  Writing Dissent in the Age of Mass Media: A View from South Asia  (2 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
South Asian region has been home to numerous literary and political movements that challenge the state and orthodox forces such as organized religion and rigid social hierarchies. Furthermore, freedom of expression in the region has been variously understood as a “Western” value and a fundamental human right. How do writers, activists, journalists and artists struggle with freedom of expression within their own societies while navigating such global discourses? This course examines the art and practice of writing dissenting views – fiction, non-fiction and digital media - and journalistic reporting on areas that are considered as taboo subjects. The issue of dissent has also been compounded by the overwhelming nature of mass media that amplifies as well distorts the nature of dissenting voices. Through the close study of written texts, audio-visual material, and new media products, students would be introduced to the processes, perils and impact of ‘dissent’. Debates on freedom of expression and its manifestation within different national traditions in the South Asian region will also be discussed in the class. undermine) a freedom of expression culture, expose abuses of freedom of speech, become victims in struggles for freedom of expression, or facilitate those very violations.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1505  Writing Short Comedy  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course introduces students to writing short humor, including political satire (The Daily Show, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Real Time With Bill Maher), sketch humor (Saturday Night Live and in the tradition of Kids In The Hall, Mad TV, Upright Citizens Brigade), monologues (Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel), observational humor (stand-up comedy), parody (essays, think pieces, video, YouTube). Students learn the difference between a sketch and a bit, how to create memorable original characters, where to find humor. Students experiment with writing a different specific piece each week, possibly including a parody of a TV commercial, fake news stories à la The Onion, Jimmy Fallon Thank You Notes, monologue jokes for talk-show hosts, humorous short films for Funny Or Die, and a humorous Op-Ed piece for The New York Times.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1506  Writing about Television Drama  (4 Credits)  
The past two decades have seen television transform itself from a much-belittled outgrowth of the film industry, the “boob tube” of yore, into the most consistently exciting and rewarding source for intellectually rigorous, emotionally compelling popular culture in American life. Television has largely supplanted film as the go-to source for engrossing, adult narratives, and for boundary-pushing storytelling. This course will offer students the opportunity to burnish their writing skills while studying the evolution of the television drama since 1990. Over the course of the semester, students will watch groundbreaking series like The Sopranos, The Wire, and Friday Night Lights, and write about the variety of narrative and aesthetic styles endemic to Golden Age television, grappling with questions of gender, sexuality, race, and American identity central to many of these shows. In working on our writing, we will look at everything from recaps to reviews to narrative histories in order to grasp the wide range of quality writing on television. Writing assignments will ask students to analyze the antihero figure exemplified by the likes of Tony Soprano, as well as series like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that sought to break out of that now-familiar mold. Written work will allow students to try their hand at close analysis of television episodes, along with broader overviews of the arc of a series’ entire run. Readings will include essays by Emily Nussbaum, Alan Sepinwall, Brett Martin, Clive James, Margaret Talbot, Jonathan Abrams, Margaret Atwood, James Poniewozik, Willa Paskin, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1507  Writing About American Comedy  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Writing about comedy is a treacherous affair, and one that raises numerous intractable questions: What is comedy? What path has it carved out for itself over the past century? And how do we write about it? This advanced writing course will survey the story of American comedy in all its multifarious formats—the sitcom, the film comedy, the stand-up act, the variety show— while also serving as a workshop for cultural criticism that goes deeper than the recap. Utilizing a combination of reading, viewing, live performances, and workshopping, this course will sharpen students’ skills as writers by exposing them to the wide range of American comedy from Charlie Chaplin to “Key & Peele,” with units on African-American comedy, women in comedy, political comedy, and self-aware comedy, among others. In this course, we will wrestle with the complexities of writing about comedy, including, but not limited to, the question of whether being funny about what’s funny is a faux pas or a necessity. Writing assignments will offer students the opportunity to learn about the craft of cultural criticism by attending a stand-up show and writing a review, writing about a work of comedy that makes you uncomfortable, and other prompts. Readings will include essays by Clive James, Emily Nussbaum, James Agee, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Wesley Morris, Roxane Gay, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1508  Writing for Late Night Television: Monologue, Jokes, Bits, and Sketches  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course introduces students to writing for the world of Late-Night Television. Every talk show host has a unique voice and style. Work may include learning how to write opening monologues for The Daily Show, sketches for classics like Saturday Night Live, Inside Amy Schumer and I Think You Should Leave. We’ll also go back to the early days of television and look at the kind of sketches and general comedy done back then. We’ll watch shows such as Sid Caesar, Laugh In, Hee-Haw and Carol Burnett and compare them to the shows of today.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1509  Adapting the British Hit for American Television  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Adapting The British Hit For American TV will give students the opportunity to choose a current British show, comedy or drama, and adapt it into a Pilot script for an American television program. There’s a long history of British TV shows that made their way across the pond into the hearts of American audiences – and some that didn’t quite connect. Some of those that did: Til Death Do Us Part (All In The Family), House of Cards, The Office, The Thick of It (Veep) and Shameless. Some shows that misfired: Fawlty Towers (Amanda’s By The Sea), Free Agents, Coupling, Blackpool (Viva Laughlin) and Life On Mars. For the first few weeks, the class will view a number of British shows that succeeded and failed in America. Lectures and discussions will get into “Why” these shows worked or didn’t. Each student will then be given the chance to pick a British show, come up with storylines, an Outline and first draft of a script.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1512  Advanced Television: Writing the Comedy Pilot  (4 Credits)  
This course is for students who have taken Writing for Television Parts 1 and 2, or similar courses, Students will come into the class with a solid premise and a compelling (though not necessarily likable) lead character. This advanced course will build on the basics to provide a solid understanding of how to create a commercial comedy pilot. The emphasis will be on writing an entertaining story with funny lines and believable characters. And since comic characters can have depth, students are encouraged to write a comedy/drama (dramedy), along the lines of The End of The F---ing the World, Abbott Elementary, The Righteous Gemstones, Bad Sisters and Sex Education to name a few. The class structure will emulate a Writers Room, focusing on collaboration through which students help each other to dig deeper, write funnier, and leave the class as better writers.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1515  The Art of Satire: Laughter as a Political Instrument  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Laughter is fundamental and universal. Satire is often able to illuminate cultural and social issues more effectively than straight polemical discourse because it strikes directly at the reader's sensory response. Throughout history, satire has acted as an instrument of social change by provoking debate and planting seeds of social conscience while entertaining – Jon Stewart is a great example of this. Most politically engaged fiction writers are natural satirists, because unfunny polemical fiction quickly curdles into propaganda, or stagnates into social realism. This class will read and write satirical pieces, both fiction and non-fiction. We will investigate what makes a piece of writing funny: primarily the choice of the point of view, voice, and detail, as well as such devices as contrast, repetition, and the deadpan delivery. The students will be able to follow their interests and passions in choosing topics for their writing. Readings may include: Mark Twain, Mikhail Bulgakov, Sherman Alexie, Jon Stewart, George Saunders, Gary Shteyngart, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, Lorrie Moore, Tina Fey, and the writers of The Onion.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1520  Creating Narrative Effects  (4 Credits)  
Good writing is seamless and smooth, skillfully persuading us of the authenticity of the time and place and the emotional landscape of the characters. We are shown only what needs to be illuminated, carried forward at the right speed, kept at arm?s length sometimes and clasped close at other times. Great stories or novels work at every level because the writer has mastered the craft of fiction. This class will examine those elements of craft that lead to better storytelling?ingenious use of point of view, narrative voice, pacing, meaningful description and telling detail, effective dialogue and many more. We will read great stories illustrating these aspects of craft, and write stories which we will workshop. Possible text: The Story and Its Writer : An Introduction to Short Fiction edited by Ann Charters.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1522  Thin Stories: Alternative Narrative Strategies  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This course will explore a strain of storytelling that might seem, at first glance, a little spindly. The texts under examination will feature extreme compression, elliptical structures, and conspicuous narrative absences, storytelling modes that stand in direct opposition to the larger scope, causal sequencing, and exposition-heavy style often found in conventional novels and short stories. In the class readings and their own original work, students will investigate fiction that proposes new formal approaches, incorporates strategies from poetry and other genres, and "minimizes" the traditional narrative arc by slicing it up in new ways. Texts will include Yasunari Kawabata’s Palm of the Hand Stories, Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, Lydia Davis’s Almost No Memory, Joe Wenderoth’s Letters To Wendy’s and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, among others. Ultimately, the class will be a kind of creative laboratory where students can craft experimental narrative forms, discovering their own “thin stories” and the rich, tricky possibilities therein.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1523  Story Sense  (4 Credits)  
A story must, first and foremost, capture and maintain audience attention. Though stories are most often conveyed in words—written or spoken—words are not the immutable elements by which audience attention is captured and sustained. A survey of successful stories that function quite effectively without words—wordless comics (Spy vs. Spy), wordless animations (Heider-Simmel), and wordless novels (Lynd Ward)—confirms this. At an abstract level, we can generalize and note that attention is compelled by generating information gaps and an awareness of those unknowns in the minds of audiences. The goal of this course is to identify and pass along these age-old techniques that storytellers have used over the millennia. We will read and watch stories from Homer, Shakespeare, Ward, Woolf, O’Connor, Bombal, Hempel, Winterson, Simpson, Miyazaki, the Coen Brothers, Saunders, and others. Writing assignments include a group script, and three individual creative submissions in whatever story mode you choose.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1524  Five x Five: Contemporary Masters of Short Fiction  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Students in this reading and writing-intensive class will engage in a close study of short fiction by reading five masters of the form: James Baldwin, Grace Paley, Leonard Michaels, Joy Williams, and David Foster Wallace. Students will be exposed to a shifting kaleidoscope of approaches to language and representations of the personal and political self. In examining the range of voices, techniques, and formal strategies these authors employ, and by experimenting with some of these same approaches in their own fiction, students will expand their understanding of the diversity, vitality, and possibility available to today’s short story writer. The class will feature close readings, discussion, group work, in-class exercises, formal assignments, and workshop.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1526  The Monster Under Your Story: Exploring Genre  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
From the Gothic mansions of Poe to the gleaming hovercrafts of Gibson, genre fiction is often a craft of extremes: extreme imagination, extreme emotion. Do the trappings of "literary fiction" sometimes feel constraining to you as a writer? Do the settings feel too familiar, the conventions too tame for the story you want to tell? Could your story use a cowboy? A flesh-eating zombie? In this course, students will examine and write in different genres, from mystery to science fiction, western to horror. While the course will include close, textual readings of works by authors such as Stephen King, Kelly Link, Ursula K. Le Guin, Koji Suzuki, Walter Mosley, Karen Russell, Elmore Leonard, and Max Brooks, the majority of each class will be spent workshopping student fiction.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1527  Writing Dystopian Fiction  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This reading and writing-intensive workshop will examine visions of dystopian societies presented in several fictional works. We will consider the political and cultural crisis depicted in each text, and the impact of this crisis on individual identity and freedom. Students will respond to the themes in these texts in their own creative work, crafting personal dystopic visions influenced by contemporary concerns and the impulses of their imaginations. Texts will include Orwell’s 1984, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Terry Gilliam’s film Brazil, and a course reader featuring short works by Kafka, Jennifer Egan, Colson Whitehead, George Saunders, Blake Butler, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1528  Fiction in Flux: The New Short Story  (4 Credits)  
Of all our fluctuating literary forms, the short story—thriving upon its own constraints— is perhaps the one that most explicitly demonstrates language’s astonishing capacity to generate an infinite amount of expressive possibilities from a finite set of rules. Recently, it also seems to have become the fiction writer’s tool of choice: No other mechanism feels quite so particularly and sensitively calibrated to the strange disturbances of the modern world. In this class, we’ll take a close look at how short fiction has rapidly changed over the past decade, focusing on innovative writers who have discovered new possibilities within the limits of the genre. Using Ben Marcus's anthology New American Stories as a primary text and supplementing it with selected pieces from a variety of different authors, we’ll look at luminaries like Don DeLillo, Joy Williams, Lydia Davis, Barry Hannah and Anne Carson alongside important new “technicians” like Rivka Galchen. Students will then be encouraged to participate in the evolution of the form by applying the narrative techniques and strategies they encounter to their own short fiction, which will be discussed in formal workshops. Luckily, there will also be several opportunities for us to attend readings from writers featured in the course.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1529  Writing the Portrait: Depicting Artists in Fiction  (4 Credits)  
How do fiction writers imagine the creative process, life and world of an artist? How do we write about the artistic process? What, if any, parallels may exist between writing and the creative process of a painter, composer, musician, dancer or actor? This course will explore these questions as students read and write fiction focused on artists working in different artistic mediums. We will read fictional portraits of artists both real and imagined, paying attention to the particulars of language associated with each art form and how the writers have incorporated elements of the art form into their work. Writing workshop will include a critique of the writing and story development as well as a critique of how well the world of the artist has been built within the bounds of the fictional realm. We will also delve into research—artist interviews, online performances and exhibitions—using the art and performance worlds of New York City as a resource, culminating in a final research portfolio and presentation to be submitted alongside the final work of fiction. Readings may include works by Baldwin, Bernhard, Bolaño, Hustvedt, Maugham, McCann, Ondaatje, Rushdie and Woolf. Readings will also include essays by artists, artist interviews and profiles, and art and performance criticism.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1531  Writing the Visual  (4 Credits)  
How does language make us see? From petroglyphs to internet memes, there are many points of intersection between written and visual modes of communication. This multigenre creative writing workshop begins with a close examination of literary images. Then, through writing assignments and engagement with readings, students identify and practice techniques by which writers have rendered the visual in language; explore ekphrasis (that is, literary descriptions of and responses to works of art); and delve into some of the traditions in which text and image are combined, including concrete poetry, artist books, and graphic novels. The course concludes with a look at description as deception. At the heart of this course are fundamental questions of representation. What besides visual content do literary images offer? What are the mechanics of description, and what ethical questions can description pose for writers? Readings include works by Virginia Woolf, Chika Sagawa, Renee Gladman, Marjane Satrapi, Italo Calvino, Robin Coste Lewis, and Chris Marker among others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1532  Writing Historical Fiction: Invention, Myth, and Memory  (4 Credits)  
How do you reconcile authority with invention? In this course, we will look at this question through the lens of historical fiction, reading it alongside works of history, memoir, biography, and autobiography to discuss how history is equally discovered and created. Over the semester, students will craft and write their own works of historical fiction, digging into archives to conduct historical research and using primary and secondary sources as the basis for creating their own vision of the past. Throughout, we will study how novelists and historians make choices and, given the same primary materials, written entirely different versions of the “truth”. In the readings, we will study how Laura Ingalls Wilder took a lifetime on welfare and turned it into the story of a pioneer; read the only novel about African American cowboy and former slave Britt Johnson alongside a history of Quanah Parker, the last chief of the Comanches; and study the lesbian pulp fiction of M.E. Kerr alongside her memoir about her relationship with Patricia Highsmith. Students may enlarge on class readings and research for their writing, or choose their own historical fiction project to pursue.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1534  Sidelines: The World of the Cross-Genre Writer  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Boundaries between literary genres can be quite foggy, and for this we should be grateful, since beautiful things take shape in fog. In this course, which will emphasize craft and creative practice, we’ll explore literary hybrid forms that blur or erase lines between fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. We’ll look at prose poems, lyrical essays, fictional autobiographies, hoaxes that pass as truth (and vice versa), graphic novels, and other genre crossbreeds. We’ll discuss and explore, through writing exercises and assignments, the possibilities these forms create for our notions of storytelling, authenticity, literary craft, and imaginative expression. Students will read works by Kafka, Jamaica Kincaid, Anne Carson, Michael Ondaatje, Lydia Davis, Italo Calvino, Colson Whitehead, Joan Didion, and Vladimir Nabokov, among others, and use these models as springboards for their own hybrid inventions.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1536  The Short Story: a Workshop in Revising  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This workshop is dedicated to the oft-repeated observation that all writing is re-writing. Each writer focuses their efforts on only one or two short stories, rather than starting many new stories and abandoning them in favor of yet another new beginning. Students take each of their stories through a number of drafts and revise them in response to (though not necessarily in accord with) questions and comments raised by other members of the workshop. The objective is to learn ways of staying with such challenges as maintaining the story's voice, determining the order of experience, and arriving at an ending that satisfies the design of the story as well as the intentions of the writer. Workshop members share their stories in class throughout the semester and comment in detail on one another's work. Participants should have some experience writing short stories.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1537  Crafting Short Fiction from the Sentence Up  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Writers hoping to improve the sentence-by-sentence quality of their fiction or creative nonfiction have a dilemma—there are so many different ideas on what makes good prose it’s impossible to apply them all to a piece of writing. This class starts with an assumption that a few good ‘tells’ in a sentence can signal that some quick work can be done to improve it. With a stripped-down editorial toolset, you can find and fix simple mistakes without making any big stylistic decisions or changing the tone and texture of the piece. A bonus—some of these techniques work at the paragraph and scene levels, too. It’s not hard to make your writing better fairly quickly when you know what to look for, and for a semester we’ll practice on your work every week. We’ll also read and comment on each other’s writing and fiction by Julie Orringer, George Saunders, ZZ Packer, and others.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1540  Reading and Writing The Short Story  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The only stories worth writing are the ones that you – not someone else - want to tell. In this short story workshop, we’ll look at how to discover the story you are trying to tell and how to identify ways of telling it. In order to familiarize you with some of your options, we’ll read master stories written in various styles (epistolary stories, memory stories, envelope stories, speculative stories, character studies). Discussions of these stories will emphasize the elements of craft employed by authors across forms (point-of-view, voice, setting, characterization.) Central to this class will be student presentations of their own work. Workshop members are required to read stories by published authors and by their classmates, write even more, and participate actively in classroom discussions. Open to all.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1543  Hybrid Fictions: Writing Across Disciplines  (4 Credits)  
A novel structured like a jazz composition. A novel narrated in comic book jargon. A collection of linked stories about a chemist, each centering on a different periodic element. In this workshop we will read and write interdisciplinary fiction: stories that incorporate subject specific language, forms, and concepts from other fields of study. Readings will include work that draws on the fields of psychology, biology, chemistry, music, mathematics, design and typography, architecture and urban planning, physics, religion, anthropology and sociology, history and cultural studies, and linguistics. To broaden class discussions, we will also look at fictional works from other fields—architectural fictions, fabricated religions, imaginary companies, music recordings by fake bands—examining the ways that fiction can hybridize with other disciplines on their home turf. Writing assignments will be designed to cater to the specific interests of each student, allowing you to experiment with whatever particular subjects that you’re most passionate about—ballet, astronomy, behavioral economics, anything. Over the course of the semester, each student in the workshop will produce two short stories, as well as a number of pieces of flash fiction.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1544  Storytelling in the Digital Age  (4 Credits)  
The main goal of this course is to provide students with ways how to enhance traditional storytelling by new technologies without diminishing the role of the written word. We will examine every aspect of the craft of traditional fiction writing: plot, structure, point of view, narrative voice, dialogue, building of individual scenes, etc as well as the new techniques of the digital age: hypertext, visual and audio images, social media. We will learn how to balance the traditional with the new without overwhelming the written text with gadgets. The class will become a creative lab studying ideas by others, coming up with their own, presenting their fiction, responding to the writing of others, and discussing questions about literature, editing, and publishing in the digital age.Each student will create and present to class a work of fiction based on some of the ideas we will be discussing.The works don’t have to be in the electronic form, but the students will need to explain how they would work. Each student will create a basic website with a writer’s profile and portfolio of her works. Readings will include fiction by: Borges, Nabokov, Michael Joyce, Margaret Atwood, Jennifer Egan.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1546  Content is Key: Editing Short Fiction  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This class explores the hard decision-making involved in fiction, and attempts to give the students tools for deciding which content belongs in a story and which needs to be put aside for later use, or discarded altogether. We look at ways to discover what the first and second drafts are about, and which parts of the story add to that idea and which detract. We also hold a traditional workshop, discussing student stories in a roundtable session.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1547  Writing the Novel  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The main objectives of this course are to provide students interested in writing a novel an awareness of the various techniques available to them and to help them develop their own approach to novel writing. We will examine every aspect of the craft of novel writing: plot, structure, point of view, narrative voice, dialogue, building of individual scenes, etc. Students will learn to study texts from the unique perspective of a writer. The class will become a community of writers working in a safe, honest and considerate environment, presenting their own fiction, responding to the writing of others, and discussing questions about literature, editing, and publishing. Each student will write a novel outline and two chapters. Reading assignments will include works by a variety of classic and contemporary authors, such as Jane Austen, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Junot Diaz, and Jennifer Egan.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1548  Me and You and the World: Writing the Personal and the Political  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
Voice is the first thing we encounter in compelling writing. Voice is the palpable presence of the writer, the hand that reaches out to pull us in. It is writer’s persona, the sound of his or her presence. Voice is what persists, whispering in our head, long after the essayist's convictions are aired, long after we have closed the book, or closed the browser. This multi-genre writing workshop will help hone an essential and potent element of your writing: an ability to adapt your voice to the medium. Whether it is the rigor of short fiction or the convictions of the personal essay owe will explore different ways to develop your voice. We will close-read published stories and essays as a starting point for your own writing. We will explore aspects of craft: point of view, character, theme, rhythm, structure and so on. We will burnish each other’s work with frank and constructive comment and grapple with the rigors of editing. The course will require close-readings of fiction by Kafka, Cortazar, Ha Jin, Lahiri, Oates, and personal essays by Hemon, Dillard, Jo Ann Beard, Laymon, Coates, and other writers. In addition to writing fiction and essay and studying aspects of craft, students will also be invited to make presentations.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1549  Writers as Shapers  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
A piece of fiction can be constructed in an unlimited number of ways and this course seeks to explore the formal possibilities available to us. We will study the choices we can make as writers—of narrative point of view, characterization, beginnings, dialogue, scene, summary, pacing, plot and resolutions. We will isolate and inspect strategies that published authors have used, even as students produce and workshop their own fiction from exercises. In this conversation between student writing and the studied literature we will hopefully get a greater sense of writers as sculptors of the raw material of story. Possible texts: Mishima, Ha Jin, Russell Banks, Charles Baxter, C.J. Hribal, Daniyal Mueenuddin, Alice Munroe, Jhumpa Lahiri.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1550  Fiction Writing  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
A workshop and introduction to the story writing concepts—Theatre of the Mind, Evoking, Thingness, Story Time, Character Want, Reader Want, POV Contracts, Consistency—that story writers have used through the ages to accomplish that first and last task of every narrative, the waking of want in the reader to reach for the next page. We will workshop student drafts and favorite published fictions. With student work (turned in under deadline and duress) we will concentrate on potential as opposed to measuring drafts against the completed best. As best we can we will focus on "the how" of the craft of fiction as opposed to focusing on "the what" of what a story might have to say. Required materials: open mind, obsession to learn, humbleness mixed with arrogance (it takes a certain arrogance to imagine anyone would want to give up part of their life to read what you have written), a sense to be humored.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: Yes  
WRTNG-UG 1552  Not I: Decreative Writing  (4 Credits)  
Attention alone — that attention which is so full that the ‘I’ disappears — is required of me. I have to deprive all that I call ‘I’ of the light of my attention and turn it on to that which cannot be conceived. —Simone Weil In her novel The Waves, Virginia Woolf reminds us that looming behind every person's story about selfhood is the ambient sensation of consciousness itself: “the body of the complete human being whom we have failed to be, yet at the same time cannot forget.”In her diaries, she repeatedly imagines writing a book which moves past fiction’s “remorseless analysis” of identity toward a more mysteriously biocentric sense of being an animal alive in the world. Almost a century after Woolf published her major works, contemporary neuroscientists are now offering us radical new insight into all the shifting qualities and states of awareness that actually comprise personhood. The research has also ratified Woolf’s sustained argument that knowledge is much more than wordable thought, and that being—the full psychosomatic experience of a human life—is infinitely more complex than selfhood. In this creative writing seminar, we’ll explore both literature and science in an attempt to transcribe those parts of ourselves we usually fail to get on the page, from ordinary boredom to nonconscious cognition, intuition and “bare attention.” If selfhood, as these neuroscientists argue, isn’t a single abiding essence but a “repeatedly reconstructed biological state,” how can we represent that tumultuously physical process on the page? How does the process of identity formation help a human being survive? Which artists are seriously engaged in these questions? We’ll work from the hopeful premise that the more mindfully we write what human consciousness actually feels like from eyeblink to eyeblink, the more sensitized we become to all the knowledges we share with other living organisms, the more attuned we become to the natural environment, and the more capable we become of imagining new forms of life. Readings will supplement fiction by writers like Woolf, Don DeLillo, Samuel Beckett, Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez, and Joy Williams with selections from works on linguistics, evolutionary biology, cognitive science and neurobiology. Assignments include several writing prompts elicited by these readings as well as several original pieces of writing to be workshopped by the class.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1555  Advanced Fiction Writing  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
The aim of this class is to present the (mostly) verifiable, repeatable, teachable, learnable and nearly non-negotiable elements—scene, summary, evoking of the senses, want, choice, et cetera—of the theory of story that repeatedly wake a want in the reader to reach for the next page. The Scientific Method is our model, and we use published narratives—from The New Yorker, Zoetrope, others—for field observation, vivisection, analysis. The idea is to help you begin to acquire the tools of dramatic narrative—through systematic measurement, experiment, modification of hypotheses—necessary to avoid reader indifference. Students turn in three drafts of fiction, each 10-14 pages long, to be critiqued in a workshop setting. Critiques are rigorous but constructive: no nastiness allowed. The "Advanced" of the course title (with any luck) refers to the evolving critical skills of committed students of fiction writing.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: Yes  
WRTNG-UG 1559  Writing a Scene  (4 Credits)  
Individual scenes are important building blocks of any prose narrative, yet the craft of designing a scene is often neglected by aspiring writers. In this class we will study all the aspects of designing a successful scene: setting, inner plot, inner structure, spotlight on the characters, POV, choreography of physical movement, dialogue. We will study how to write sex scenes, death scenes, party scenes, battle scenes, nature scenes. The readings will include Diaz, Danticat, Tolstoy, Ferrante, Baldwin, Bolano, Proulx, Munro, Waters.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1560  The Art and Craft of Poetry  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
In this workshop (practicum), poets will focus on the foundations and intricate dynamics of poetry as a writer's process. A weekly reading of a new poem by each poet in the circle will serve as point of departure for discussion of the relationships of craft and expression. A final portfolio of polished poems is required at the end of the course.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: Yes  
WRTNG-UG 1561  Poetry Writing  (4 Credits)  
In this course, we will examine contemporary voices in poetry and build our own poetry writing practice, engaging in lively questions about process and craft as we work to define and contextualize poetry in our class discussions. We will investigate the complexities and craft lessons from contemporary poetry by reading recent collections of up-and-coming poets. Students will individually produce material and submit drafts to the poetry workshop for discussion where we will learn to offer serious and constructive criticism. The goal of the poetry workshop is generative: it propels a dynamic revision process so that at the end of the semester, each student will submit a portfolio of revised material. By the end of this course, you should have a deeper understanding of poetry, language, and the craft of writing, a growing sense of your own voice and aesthetic interests, and a small body of your very own creative work.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1562  City Poet  (4 Credits)  
Along with lessons from the attendant social, racial, and political upheavals brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also had a deep reckoning with place—the places we choose and find ourselves in, the places that we long to inhabit, and those being radically transformed. This course invites writers to explore what it means to be a poet in New York City in this particular moment in history. How can the City itself speak in your poems? Using the resources of New York City—its infrastructure, cultural institutions, and the stories of its inhabitants—this generative course brings writers into the City through site-based writing exercises. Throughout the course, we will explore texts and poems from a range of writers whose work explores New York’s cityscapes, including Langston Hughes, Alfred Kazin, Yusef Komunyakaa, Audre Lorde, Frank O’Hara, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Rebecca Solnit, and Walt Whitman. Our readings will consider texts that center the City as more than a setting, and instead as a source for stories that need to be told. To create new work, we will visit cultural institutions and locations throughout the city to do place-based writing on site, reflecting on where and how to find material for poems. Through close readings and through workshop and revision, writers will learn about how to understand and construct a poem. The class combines class readings and discussions, site visits to generate new work, workshops of poems written for the class, and will close with a public group reading of finished work.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 1564  Advanced Poetry Writing  (4 Credits)  
Typically offered occasionally  
This class teaches students how to take their writing to another level both intellectually and artistically; depth of theme, imagination, and craft are discussed. Emphasis is placed on developing and strengthening one’s personal style and voice. Through workshopping, students further refine their critical abilities as poets and readers. The class includes exercises and readings. Submission of work will be discussed and encouraged.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: Yes  
WRTNG-UG 9150  Creative Writing: Argentina, travel Writing at the End of the World  (4 Credits)  
THIS COURSE TAKES PLACE AT NYU-BUENOS AIRES. This is an introductory course in creative writing: prose is predominant, all genres are accepted, and no previous experience or expertise is required. The thematic focus starts with the condition of being a foreigner abroad, outside of one’s normal context or comfort zone. Many readings and writing exercises draw specifically on being in Buenos Aires and the Latin American region. Both writing exercises and reading combine to motivate and refine students´ work as they expand on the chronicler’s main subjects of place, people, and things. Grounding one’s writing with fact/verisimilitude is key, as is detailed observation plus awareness of one’s own position in the greater context. Later details involve developing plot and dramatic tension (suspense), using diverse narrative points-of-view, and working with voice and character. The course allows for flexibility in terms of genre: students may work with poetic discourse or with fiction or with non-fiction and even autobiography. All work will be discussed in accord with the criteria of literary writing (i.e. this is not a “journaling” or “blogging” class); hence, reading as well as writing exercises will focus predominantly on working with language in attentive, even innovative ways. Critical analysis of published texts and of each others´ work are guided by the instructor to develop knowledge and application of literary critical criteria. The students give opinions and also intuitive sensations about the readings on issues like how a text is working, what strategies it is employing, and what effects it is producing thereby.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 9350  From the Gallery to the Page  (4 Credits)  
At the center of our shared practice will be our writing on frequent and sustained visits to Paris exhibitions and museums. We will challenge and hone our writing and looking through comparison with innovative examples of modern and contemporary art criticism. We will acquire knowledge about curating, art fairs and biennales, as well as about museum and installation design that will serve as springboards or as productive irritants to our writing. Having sharpened our looking, writing, and thinking, we will ask how our viewpoints square with influential theories of contemporary art. Finally, we hope to arrive at a collective apprehension of contemporary art, exhibition, and museum display in Paris over the course of a discrete four-month period. In fall 2017, important contemporary art exhibitions include the FIAC (International Fair of Contemporary Art) and Paris Photo.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No  
WRTNG-UG 9501  Creative Writing  (4 Credits)  
In this class students are encouraged to consider the intersectional environments (natural, urban, cultural, historical etc.) that they interact with and within, and how their sensibilities differ living away from home to contemplate how a sense of place can be conveyed through writing. We will engage with a diverse range of readings – featuring many Australian authors – and discuss technical elements and affective poetics to learn how to ‘read as a writer’. Weeks are devoted to crafting the short story, contemporary indigenous storytelling, creative nonfiction, and poetry. The class emphasizes the importance of embodied interaction with the city through a field trip using ‘The Disappearing’ – a downloadable app featuring over 100 site-specific poems spanning a ‘poetic map’ of Sydney, created by The Red Room Company. Students will think about the possibilities of marrying new technologies with writing as they navigate using poems as landmarks. Students shall workshop their drafts during the course, learning how to effectively communicate critical feedback and how to be receptive to constructive critique.
Grading: Ugrd Gallatin Graded  
Repeatable for additional credit: No