Contacts | Major in Creative Writing | Program Requirements | Summary of Requirements | Advising | Grading | Minor in English and Creative Writing | Enrolling in Creative Writing Courses | Courses

Department Website: http://creativewriting.uchicago.edu

Students at the University of Chicago pursue creative writing within the larger context of academic study. While the purpose of the program is, above all, to give students a rigorous background in the fundamentals of creative work by providing them with the opportunity to study with established poets and prose writers, it differs from the free-standing creative writing programs at other universities in seeing itself as an integral part of the intellectual life of the University of Chicago, and most particularly in providing opportunities for interdisciplinary work. A playwright working through University Theater under the auspices of Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities may take writing workshops in fiction or poetry as part of the process of developing scripts. Students in the visual arts may join forces with writers in work on graphic novels. And students in non-English languages and literatures may find themselves taking not only literature courses but also poetry or fiction writing workshops as part of developing translation projects. It is this commitment to interdisciplinary work, coupled with the program's insistence on teaching the elements of creative writing that underlie all genres, that accounts for the program's vitality and explains why Creative Writing at Chicago is currently the largest initiative in the humanities for the College.

Students can pursue their creative writing interests within the formal requirements of the major in Creative Writing described below or though a minor in English and Creative Writing, which is open to students outside those two programs. Students who do not wish to pursue a formal program in Creative Writing will have access to our courses that satisfy the general education requirement  in the arts and open-entry "beginning" workshops. They may also apply for advanced workshop courses.

Major in Creative Writing

Students who graduate with the bachelor of arts in Creative Writing will both be skilled in writing in a major literary genre and have a theoretically informed understanding of the aesthetic, historical, social, and political context of a range of contemporary writing. Students in the major will focus their studies on a primary genre chosen from fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.

The organization of the major recognizes the value of workshop courses, but incorporates that model into a broader education that furthers students’ knowledge of historical and contemporary literary practice, introduces them to aesthetic and literary theory, sharpens their critical attention, and fosters their creative enthusiasm. Valuable experience with group work and peer criticism, which comes from the practices and skills central to Creative Writing pedagogy, will prepare students for success in a range of fields in the public and private sectors.

Program Requirements

The Program in Creative Writing requires a total of 13 courses and completion of a BA thesis, as described below. Students who matriculated in 2016–17 or later may declare this major. Students in the Class of 2019 may declare, though it may only be realistic for those who have already begun creative writing course work. All interested students should speak with the Director of Undergraduate Studies or program administrator. Students in the Class of 2018 are not eligible for the Creative Writing major.

Students contemplating a major or minor in Creative Writing may choose to take one or two Creative Writing courses toward the general education requirement in the arts. These courses will not count towards major requirements, but they do offer an opportunity to test out the program while satisfying a general education requirement. 

One (1) Fundamentals in Creative Writing course 
CRWR 17000-17999

The Fundamentals in Creative Writing course is a cross-genre, one-quarter seminar to be taken by all students in the major. Every section of the course focuses on a current debate relevant to all forms of literary practice, such as mimesis, translation and appropriation, and art and the market. This course introduces students to a group of core texts from each major literary genre. The course is taught in a seminar format and will require a final paper. Fundamentals in Creative Writing is restricted to students who have declared the major, as its aims are to develop cohort solidarity, promote a culture of articulate exchange, and induct students into a reflection on practice that will serve their artistic and professional development. Students should plan to take the course as early as possible after declaring the major, ideally in the first or second quarter in the program. See Enrolling in Creative Writing Courses for additional details.

Two (2) Technical Seminars 
Fiction: CRWR 20200-20299; Poetry: CRWR 20301-20399; Nonfiction: CRWR 20400-20499

Students in the major must take two technical seminars in their primary genre of fiction, poetry, or nonfiction. The aims of the seminars are to enlarge students’ technical resources through extensive reading and analysis of contemporary literature and to provide practice-based training in technical skills. Students submit papers that address technical questions, chiefly with reference to contemporary texts. For example, poetry students may write on “the line,” where fiction students write on “point of view.” These courses may also count as electives in the minor. See Enrolling in Creative Writing Courses for additional details.

Three (3) Advanced Workshops
Fiction: CRWR 22100-22299; Poetry: CRWR 23100-23299; Nonfiction: CRWR 24001-24199

Students in the major must complete three Advanced Workshops, at least two of which must be in the student’s primary genre. The Advanced Workshop is the characteristic pedagogical instrument of Creative Writing as an academic discipline. Workshop practice relies on an understanding of support that is dedicated to improving students’ writing, not unconditional approval. Critique is the core value and activity of the workshop, and students will practice it under the guidance of the workshop instructor. Although Advanced Workshops begin with attention to exemplary texts, they typically focus on original student work. See Enrolling in Creative Writing Courses for additional details.

Credit for a Beginning Workshop: Students who have completed a Beginning Workshop in their primary genre and have received a grade of B+ or above will be able to count this course as one of the required Advanced Workshops. Because students must take at least two Advanced Workshops in their primary genre, any qualifying Beginning Workshop may only serve as the third required workshop. Beginning Workshops offered by other institutions will not count towards the major. Beginning Workshops are open to all students during pre-registration.

One (1) Literary Genre Course

Students are required to take one introductory Literary Genre course related to their primary genre as an introduction to key texts and debates in the history of their chosen genre. This requirement can be met by a cross-listed English course or a comparable course in another literature. Depending on the student's genre, courses like ENGL 10400 Introduction to Poetry, ENGL 10700 Introduction to Fiction: The Short Story, or ENGL 11004 History of the Novel may be eligible. Specific courses that are identified as filling this requirement will be listed at creativewriting.uchicago.edu.

Three (3) Literature Courses

Creative Writing majors are required to take three literature courses offered by other departments. These courses can be focused on the literature of any language, but one must involve the study of literature written before the twentieth century and one must center on theory. The Director of Undergraduate Studies will offer guidance and approve all qualifying courses. Specific courses that satisfy the distribution element of this requirement will be listed at creativewriting.uchicago.edu

Two (2) Research Background Electives

Students take two courses outside the Creative Writing department to support the student’s individual interests and thesis project. These courses must be selected in consultation with and approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Depending on a student's interests, courses in e.g., Cinema and Media Studies or Visual Arts might be appropriate. Others may take additional literature course work. The students must provide documentation of these approvals to their College adviser. 

BA Thesis and Workshop

Students work on their BA Projects throughout their fourth year. Early in Autumn Quarter of their fourth year, students will be assigned a graduate student preceptor, who will lead a series of mandatory colloquia over the course of the quarter. In Winter Quarter, students will continue meeting with the graduate preceptor and must also enroll in the appropriate Thesis/Major Projects Workshop in their genre (CRWR 29200 Thesis/Major Projects: FictionCRWR 29300 Thesis/Major Projects: Poetry, or CRWR 29400 Thesis/Major Projects: Creative Nonfiction).

Students are not automatically enrolled in a workshop; they must receive the consent of the workshop instructor, who will also serve as the faculty advisor for their BA Project. Students should be aware that because of the high number of students wishing to write fiction for their BA Projects, students will not necessarily get their first choice of workshop instructor and faculty advisor. See Enrolling in Creative Writing Courses for additional details.

Students will work closely with their faculty advisor and with their peers in the workshops and will receive course credit as well as a final grade for the workshop. In consultation with their faculty advisor and graduate preceptor, students will revise and resubmit a near-final draft of the BA Project by the end of the second week of Spring Quarter. Students will submit the final version of their BA Project to their preceptor, faculty advisor, and the Director of Undergraduate Studies by the beginning of the fifth week of Spring Quarter. Students graduating in other quarters should speak with the Director of Undergraduate Studies about an appropriate timeline.

Program Honors

The faculty in the Program in Creative Writing will award program honors based on their assessment of the BA theses, with input from graduate student preceptors. To be eligible, students must have an overall GPA of at least 3.6 and overall GPA of 3.25. Honors will be awarded only to the most exceptional projects from a given cohort; the majority of students will not receive this designation.

Summary of Requirements

One (1) Fundamentals in Creative Writing course *100
Two (2) Technical Seminars (in the student's primary genre) 200
Three (3) Advanced Workshops (at least two in the student's primary genre) §300
Three (3) Literature Courses300
One (1) Literary Genre Course100
Two (2) Research Background Electives200
One (1) BA Workshop, chosen from:100
Thesis/Major Projects: Fiction
Thesis/Major Projects: Poetry
Thesis/Major Projects: Creative Nonfiction
Total Units1300
*

CRWR 17000-17999

Technical Seminars in Fiction: CRWR 20200-20299; Poetry: CRWR 20301-20399; Nonfiction: CRWR 20400-20499

§

Advanced Workshops in Fiction: CRWR 22100-22299; Poetry: CRWR 23100-23299; Nonfiction: 24001-24199. Beginning Workshops may count as the third workshop if they meet the stipulations listed under the Program Requirements.

Advising

Students considering the major should meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies or Program Coordinator as early as possible to discuss program requirements and individual plans of study. Declaration of the major must be formalized through my.uchicago.edu.

The Program Coordinator and Director of Undergraduate Studies will provide guidance to students choosing courses to complete the major requirements. By Autumn Quarter of their third year, all students will be required to file a major program worksheet with the department, and the student’s final major program must be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Students will need to regularly provide documentation of any approvals for the major to their College advisers for the necessary processing.

Graduate student preceptor support will be available to students while they write BA theses and minor portfolios during their final year of study, and faculty instructors will serve as thesis advisors for the students in their winter workshops.

Courses outside the Department Taken for Program Credit

A maximum of three courses outside Creative Writing and the Department of English Language and Literature (or another literature) may count toward the total number of courses required by the major. Ordinarily, two of these courses will be Research Background Electives. Substitutions for a further course will be subject to approval, but students may not substitute non-literature courses for the Literature Course requirement. 

For students double majoring, this means a maximum of three courses can count towards both majors (pending approval from both departments). 

Double Majors in English

When students choose a double major in Creative Writing and English Language and Literature, the three Literature Courses and the Literary Genre course will count towards both majors. However, the two Research Background Electives required for the Creative Writing major should be taken outside of the Department of English Language and Literature. This means that a maximum of four English Language and Literature courses, including the Literary Genre course, can count towards the Creative Writing major. 

Grading

Students with a major in Creative Writing must receive quality grades (not P/F) in all courses counting toward the major or minor. Non-majors may take CRWR courses for P/F grading with consent of instructor.

Sample Plan of Study for the Major

Fundamentals in Creative Writing100
Fundamentals in Creative Writing: Literary Empathy
Technical Seminars200
Technical Seminar in Poetry: Units of Composition
Technical Seminar in Poetry: Manifestos, Movements, Modes
Advanced Workshops300
Advanced Poetry Workshop: Waste, Surplus, Reuse
Advanced Poetry Workshop
Beginning Poetry Workshop +
Literary Genre Course 100
Introduction to Poetry
Literature Courses300
Seventeenth-Century Verse *
Literature of the City: Between Utopia and Dystopia **
Contemporary Latina/o Poetry
Research Electives 200
Expanded Arts, 1958-1978
Cinema in Theory and Practice
BA Workshop100
Thesis/Major Projects: Poetry
Total Units1300
+

Beginning Workshop is eligible because it met the conditions outlined in the Program Requirements (above).

*

 Satisfies period requirement (pre-20th century)

**

 Satisfies theory requirement

Minor in English and Creative Writing

Students who are not English Language and Literature or Creative Writing majors may complete a minor in English and Creative Writing. Such a minor requires six courses plus a portfolio of creative work. At least two of the required courses must be Creative Writing (CRWR) workshop courses, with at least one being an Advanced Workshop. Three of the remaining required courses may be taken in either the Department of English Language and Literature (ENGL) or the Program in Creative Writing (CRWR). This may include CRWR Technical Seminars or general education courses, as long as they are not already counted toward the general education requirement in the arts.

In addition, students must enroll in one of the following workshops offered during the Winter Quarter: CRWR 29200 Thesis/Major Projects: Fiction; CRWR 29300 Thesis/Major Projects: Poetry; CRWR 29400 Thesis/Major Projects: Creative Nonfiction. Finally, students must submit a portfolio of their work (e.g., a selection of poems, one or two short stories or chapters from a novel, two or three nonfiction pieces) to the Creative Writing program coordinator by the end of the fifth week in the quarter in which they plan to graduate. Students will work with a graduate student preceptor to compile and refine their final portfolios.

Students who elect the minor program in English and Creative Writing must meet with the program administrator for Creative Writing before the end of Spring Quarter of their third year to declare their intention to complete the minor. Students choose courses in consultation with the administrator. The administrator's approval for the minor program should be submitted to a student's College adviser by the deadline above on a form obtained from the adviser.

Students completing this minor will be given enrollment preference for CRWR Advanced Workshops and Thesis/Major Projects Workshops, and they must follow all relevant admission procedures described at the Creative Writing website. For details, see Enrolling in Creative Writing Courses.

Courses in the minor (1) may not be doubly counted with the student's major(s) or with other minors and (2) may not be counted toward general education requirements. Courses in the minor must be taken for quality grades (not P/F), and at least half of the requirements for the minor must be met by registering for courses bearing University of Chicago course numbers.

Summary of Requirements for the Minor Program in English and Creative Writing

Two CRWR workshop courses *200
Three CRWR or ENGL electives300
One Thesis/Major Projects Workshop +100
A portfolio of the student's work
Total Units600
*

At least one must be an Advanced Workshop.

+

CRWR 29200 Thesis/Major Projects: FictionCRWR 29300 Thesis/Major Projects: Poetry, or CRWR 29400 Thesis/Major Projects: Creative Nonfiction.

Minor to Major and Major to Minor

Student circumstances change, and thus a transfer between the major and minor programs may be desirable to students who begin a course of study in either program. Workshop courses (including Beginning Workshops) and one Technical Seminar may count towards the minor, but Fundamentals in Creative Writing will not. The Thesis/Major Projects Workshop will also function as a portfolio workshop for minors. Students should consult with their College adviser if considering such a transfer and must update their planned program of study with the Program Coordinator or Director of Undergraduate Studies in Creative Writing.

Sample Plan of Study for the Minor

CRWR 10200Beginning Fiction Workshop100
CRWR 22110Advanced Fiction: Exploring Your Boundaries100
ENGL 16500Shakespeare I: Histories and Comedies100
ENGL 10706Introduction to Fiction100
ENGL 26909The American Novel, 1950–1990100
CRWR 29200Thesis/Major Projects: Fiction100
A portfolio of the student's work (two short stories)
Total Units600

Enrolling in Creative Writing Courses

General education courses and Beginning Workshops are open to all students via the standard pre-registration process. Other courses require consent, and some may require submission of work for evaluation. These courses may prioritize students in the major. Note: Students who have not formally declared the major will not receive priority in consent-based courses. Those interested in the major should see Advising (above) and meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies before the end of Autumn Quarter of third year.

Applications for consent-only courses must be received by the deadlines listed below. 

Creative Writing courses for the general education requirement in the arts

These multi-genre courses are introductions to topics in Creative Writing and satisfy the general education requirement in the arts in the College. General education courses are generally taught under two headings—"Reading as a Writer" and "Intro to Genres"—and will feature class critiques of students’ creative work. Open to all undergraduate students during pre-registration. These courses do not count towards the major in Creative Writing, but students in the major may use these courses to satisfy their general education requirement in the arts.

Beginning Workshops

These courses are intended for students who may or may not have writing experience, but are interested in gaining experience in a particular genre. Courses will be focused on the fundamentals of craft and will feature workshops of student writing. Open to all undergraduate students during pre-registration.

Fundamentals of Creative Writing courses

Focuses on a current debate relevant to all forms of literary practice and aims to develop cohort solidarity, promote a culture of exchange, and induct students into a reflection on practice that will service their artistic and professional development. Open to declared majors only. Those students may apply to take the course by submitting the CW Seminar Consent Form, found at creativewriting.uchicago.edu

Technical Seminars

These seminars enlarge students' technical resources through extensive reading and analysis of contemporary literature and provide practice-based training in technical skills. Priority is given to declared majors. Those students may apply to take the course by submitting the CW Seminar Consent Form, found at creativewriting.uchicago.edu

Advanced Workshops

These courses are intended for students with substantive writing experience in a particular genre. Advanced workshops will focus on class critiques of student writing with accompanying readings from exemplary literary texts. Priority is given to students in the major, minor, or the Creative Writing Option of the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities. All students may apply to take the course by submitting the CW Workshop Submission Form, found at creativewriting.uchicago.edu. A writing sample in the genre of the relevant course is required for faculty review. Specific submission requirements appear in the course descriptions.

Thesis/Major Projects

This course will revolve around workshops of student writing and also concentrate on the larger form students have chosen for their creative thesis. Priority is given to students in the major, minor, or the Creative Writing Option of the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities. All students may apply to take the course by submitting the CW Workshop Submission Form, found at creativewriting.uchicago.edu. A writing sample in the genre of the relevant course is required for faculty review. Specific submission requirements appear in the course descriptions.

Quarterly Deadlines to apply for consent-based CRWR courses

  • Autumn Quarter, September 6
  • Winter Quarter, November 17
  • Spring Quarter, February 23

For more information on Creative Writing courses and opportunities, visit the Creative Writing website.

Faculty and Visiting Lecturers

For a current listing of Creative Writing faculty, visit the Creative Writing website.

Creative Writing Courses

CRWR 10206. Beginning Fiction Workshop. 100 Units.

Fiction writing is part magic and part mechanics. This course will pay homage to the magic but concentrate on how a story is built: the architecture of structure, the mechanisms of character development, the fluid dynamics of dialogue. We’ll take a close look at some of the building blocks that make up fiction writing: character, dialogue, plot, point of view, and setting. We’ll also read and discuss a variety of short stories, always with an eye to craft and to what you, as writers, can steal for your own work. That’s right, steal. Much of this course is devoted to learning how to steal the tools of great fiction writing, then to using those tools to realize your own vision. You’ll write extensively in and out of class, from weekly reading responses to writing exercises that build toward a polished piece of work. Finally, you will write a complete draft and one extensive revision of a short story or novel chapter. The last third of the course will be devoted to student workshops, where each student will turn in a draft of a story or chapter to be read and critiqued by the whole class.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 30206

CRWR 10306. Beginning Poetry Workshop. 100 Units.

This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of poetry in a creative writing workshop context. We will focus on a different topic each week—image, prosody, form, and so on—by reading extensively in the work of contemporary American poets and by composing our own literary exercises as well. We will also attend poetry readings and talks on poetry by visitors to our campus. The course will follow a workshop format, with peer critiques of student work and intensive readings across a spectrum of literary aesthetics.

Instructor(s): TBD     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is necessary.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 40306

CRWR 10406. Beginning Nonfiction Workshop. 100 Units.

A personal essay can employ a chain of events, but it’s essentially a train of thought. Like thought, it’s protean, able to take any shape and yet remain an essay. In this workshop you’ll write two drafts of your own essai, or attempt, at the form, while line editing and critiquing your classmates’ attempts. You’ll also do close readings, starting with “Why I Write,” by George Orwell, and “Why I Write,” by Joan Didion. Then James Baldwin’s “Autobiographical Notes.” Once we’ve had a taste of the present we’ll go back four thousand years to the essay’s beginnings in Babylon, following its evolution in Greece and Rome—Heraclitus, Plutarch, Seneca—then Europe: Montaigne, Max Beerbohm, Walter Benjamin, and Natalia Ginzburg, returning to contemporary English-language writers, including Adrienne Rich and Margaret Atwood, ending with Didion’s “Goodbye to All That,” paired with Eula Biss’s contemporary cover version, also titled “Goodbye to All That.” 

Instructor(s): Dan Raeburn; Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 30406

CRWR 12103. Reading as a Writer. 100 Units.

How does a writer read?  A poet may cultivate distracted reading, a novelist may undertake research of scholarly scope and rigor. To read for writers is to read for generative use in writing. Two examples central to this course will be Lydia Davis’ translation of Flaubert's Madame Bovary with her own ‘Ten Stories from Flaubert’ and Julian Barnes’ Flaubert’s Parrot, and Ted Berrigan’s Sonnets read alongside the poems by Frank O’Hara which they imitate. Members of this class will learn to read creatively, and to perpetrate literary (mis)readings, including translation, parody, homage, recovery of lost voices and physical treatments of books. Students will write reflections upon the experience of reading literature from the perspective of a writer throughout the quarter, on the class Chalk website, as well as experimenting with creative imitations of literary precursors.

Instructor(s): TBD     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Note(s): This course meets the general education requirement in the arts.

CRWR 12106. Intro to Genres: Science Ficiton. 100 Units.

A monolith manifests in orbit around Jupiter, emitting a signal. A beacon? A man spontaneously discovers the ability to teleport. An evolutionary accident? The origin of human life proves to be malicious. Divine fate? Space travel is enabled by the ingestion of enormous quantities of a geriatric spice a messianic figure auspiciously learns to manipulate. A drug trip?! Among popular genres, science fiction is the riskiest conceptually and among the trickiest to master. The difference between an amazing idea and a rotten story is often slim. What makes good sci-fi work? And how best to write it? Let’s put on our gravity boots and solar visors and see what we can discover. In this course, you’ll read some novels (by Frank Herbert, Alfred Bester, and Ursula K. LeGuin), poetry (by Andrew Joron), a graphic novel (by Chris Ware), and screenplays (by Damon Lindelof, and Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke). And all the while, you’ll try your hand at bending each other’s minds with your own science fiction.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Open bid through my.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.,Note(s): This course meets the general education requirement in the arts.

CRWR 12107. Reading as a Writer: Crime and Story. 100 Units.

If prostitution is the earliest profession, then crime is probably the earliest narrative engine. Crime has always been a driving force behind story, a vehicle not only of plot but of human psychology, social exploration, philosophical investigation, and just plain old suspense. There’s something about the darker side of human nature that invites explorations of characters pushed to their extremes. Through analyzing the writing techniques and processes—such as point of view, scene, setting, voice, narrative structure and research methodologies—of such writers and poets as Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith, Walter Mosley, Joyce Carol Oates, Denis Johnson, Carolyn Forché, CK Williams, Nami Mun, James Ellroy, and Richard Price among others, students will examine how elements of crime in story can be transformed beyond simple genre. By examining writers’ choices, students will explore how they may use these techniques to develop such mechanics of writing as point of view, poetics, dramatic movement and narrative structure in their own work.

Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Note(s): This course meets the general education requirement in the arts.

CRWR 12112. Reading as a Writer: Chicago "City on the Remake" 100 Units.

This course invites writers to reconsider the influence of Chicago’s public spaces on artistic craft and form. How does one tell a “Chicago story"? Is the city better told in prose or poem? Is there a “Chicago epic"? Working through these questions, students will analyze and explore Chicago writers’ work in prose and poetry. Students will then develop their own creative responses, building connections to their adopted critical approaches. To these ends, we will examine work by writers including Nelson Algren, Saul Bellow, Gwendolyn Brooks, Stuart Dybek, Lorraine Hansberry, and Chris Ware, as well as the city’s rich legacies in documentary film, the visual arts, and music.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,TBD
Prerequisite(s): Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Note(s): This course meets the general education requirement in the arts.

CRWR 12124. Reading as a Writer: Beauty Is Truth, Truth Beauty. 100 Units.

In this course, students will investigate the complicated relationship between truth and art, by reading, watching, and writing works adapted from a historical record or “based on a true story.” Weekly reading assignments will include fiction, poetry, memoir, and film, and students will write both critical essays and creative exercises that explore the overlaps and divergences between journalistic and artistic truth. Readings: Aristotle, Bechdel, Carson, Keats, Northup, and Zucker.

Instructor(s): Rachel DeWoskin     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Note(s): This course meets the general education requirement in the arts.

CRWR 12125. Reading as a Writer: From Page to Film. 100 Units.

We often say of film adaptations: it’s not as good as the book.  But what can we, as readers and writers, learn from that unsuccessful transition to the screen?  And more intriguingly, what can we learn from the successful ones, the films that are just as good if not better than the original written work—or so vastly different that they become their own entity?  In this class, we will be reading works of short fiction and also “reading” their film adaptations, focusing on this relationship between storytelling on the page and storytelling on the screen and what is both lost and gained in that transition.  If filmmaking requires a different language than fiction writing, a different approach to things like character, plot, atmosphere, even thematic development, what can we learn from that approach that we can apply to our own fiction, even if we have no interest in making films?  We’ll investigate this question in the work of writers like James Joyce, Andre Dubus, and Stephen King, and filmmakers like Hitchcock, Huston, and Wilder. 

Instructor(s): Vu Tran     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Note(s): This course meets the general education requirement in the arts.

CRWR 17000. Fundamentals in Creative Writing: Literary Empathy. 100 Units.

In this fundamentals course, students will investigate the complicated relationship between writers, fictional characters, and readers, toward determining what place literary empathy has in our conversation about contemporary literature. James Baldwin once observed, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” We will use weekly reading assignments including fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction to ask questions about what Virginia Woolf called “perpetual union with another mind.” Students will write critical responses, creative exercises, and a final paper on a topic to be approved by the instructor. Readings include Baldwin, Bishop, Beard, Carson, Walcott, and Woolf.

Instructor(s): Rachel DeWoskin     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Students apply for consent by filling out the CW Seminar Consent Form on creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Students must meet the course application deadline specified on the website. This course is specifically for students taking the Major in Creative Writing. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

CRWR 18200. Poetry and the Human (ARTS Core) 100 Units.

This spring-quarter Arts course is related to the Humanities course “Poetry and the Human” and is intended as a potential sequel to its first two quarters, but can also be taken as a freestanding course. Through a combination of seminar discussions and creative writing workshop sessions, it focuses upon creative practice (form, flow, and voice) as way of approaching many of the questions raised over the Autumn and Winter terms. It considers the role of poetry in different traditions (Japanese, English, Persian, etc.) from aesthetic, philosophical, and performative angles. Students in the Poetry and the Human sequence (HUMA) will have priority registration for this course; other students may register for any remaining seats.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): This course meets the general education requirement in the arts.

CRWR 20200. Technical Seminar in Fiction: Characterization. 100 Units.

This reading and writing seminar will acquaint students with one of the essential tools of fiction writers: characterization. We will read primary texts by authors including Baldwin, Flaubert, Munro, and Wharton, as well as critical work by Danticat, Forester, and Vargas Llosa, toward exploring how some of literature’s most famous characters are rendered. How do writers of fiction create contexts in which characters must struggle, and how does each character’s conflicts reveal his or her nature? Students will complete both creative and analytical writing exercises, reading responses, and a paper that focuses on characterization in a work of fiction.

Instructor(s): Rachel DeWoskin     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Students apply for consent by filling out the CW Seminar Consent Form on creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Students must meet the course application deadline specified on the website.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 40200

CRWR 20201. Technical Seminar in Fiction: Auto Fiction, Essayism, Truth. 100 Units.

This inter-genre readings course will be of special interest to student writers interested in both fiction and creative nonfiction. We'll look at hybrid works by W.G. Sebald, Teju Cole, Rachel Cusk, and Shelia Heti and also consider writers like Kathryn Harrison, Tobias Wolff, and Gregor von Rezzori, who have addressed the same subjects in both fiction and nonfiction. Finally, we’ll dip into Robert Musil’s notion of “essayism” as a modern mode of thought and the recent debate over the “lyric essay.” We’ll also look at journalistic and/or documentary works by Werner Herzog, Truman Capote, Tom Bissell, Katherine Boo, and Ryszard Kapuściński. By exploring the interestingly smudged line between factual and fictional texts, we’ll interrogate both genre categories and ways of perceiving and presenting what’s true. 

Instructor(s): Will Boast     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Students apply for consent by filling out the CW Seminar Consent Form on creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Students must meet the course application deadline specified on the website. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 40201

CRWR 20301. Technical Seminar in Poetry: Manifestos, Movements, Modes. 100 Units.

This course is an introduction to the linked practices of reading and writing poetry. We will begin with major stylistic experiments of the last century—finding common ground in familiar idioms. We will discuss significant topics, movements ,and styles of the period while identifying formal strategies. As we practice these strategies in our writing, we will move backward in time, to less familiar terrain—expanding our sense of context while increasing our technical repertoire and defamiliarizing ourselves with our assumptions about what poetry is, what it should do, and how it should do it. Weekly reading and writing assignments will challenge students to expand their technical repertoire. And the historical breadth of the course will give students an opportunity to explore the expansive field of poetry as a historically dynamic phenomenon. But the true educational experience will come in uniting these activities, when the student begins to read as a writer and write as a reader. This creative relation to the world of symbols will open them to the world as such and the world as such to their writerly minds. Ultimately, this is a course in inventive perception.

Instructor(s): Edgar Garcia     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Students apply for consent by filling out the CW Seminar Consent Form on creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Students must meet the course application deadline specified on the website. Attendance on the first day is mandatory
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 40301

CRWR 20302. Technical Seminar in Poetry: Units of Composition. 100 Units.

This course aims to investigate, through a range of readings and writing exercises, various units of composition and the ways that they interact with each other in poems. We will study and imitate traditional formal approaches, such as the poetic foot, meter, caesuras, sprung rhythm, rhymed stanzas, and refrains. We also will study and imitate modernist and contemporary “units,” such as the word (approached, for example, etymologically or connotatively), the free verse line, the variable foot, vers libre, serial form, the sentence (the “new” sentence, but also modulations of basic syntax), the paragraph, the page, and forms of call and response. This reading intensive course will draw from a selection of mostly modern and contemporary poetry, poetics, and criticism. Students will be expected to submit weekly technical exercises, complete several short critical responses, write a longer essay, and submit a final portfolio of revised material.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Students apply for consent by filling out the CW Seminar Consent Form on creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Students must meet the course application deadline specified on the website. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 40302

CRWR 20400. Technical Seminar in Nonfiction: The Possibilities of Tone. 100 Units.

There are choices we're making at the sentence level that conjure specific tonal environments in our non-fiction. These tonal choices are mostly idiosyncratic to each writer, part of our syntactic DNA. This won't be a course in changing anyone's inherent tonal choices. It will be a course where we'll practice how to listen to our writing so that we can recognize the choices we've made and how best to accentuate them in revision. We'll look at some of the great sentence makers: Woolf, Baldwin, Didion, Sontag, Als, Sebald (still a knock-out even in translation), DFW, Rushdie, and others. We will be looking very closely at sentence level construction. We'll read some poets because they make it all look so easy sometimes. We'll analyze the interaction between the tone and content of each essay, watching how that interaction can be causal, inseparable, playful, discordant, impossible, etc. Students will complete both creative and analytical writing exercises, reading responses, and a paper that focuses on characterization in a work of fiction.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Students apply for consent by filling out the CW Seminar Consent Form on creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Students must meet the course application deadline specified on the website. This course is specifically for students taking the Major in Creative Writing. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 40400

CRWR 22100. Advanced Fiction Workshop. 100 Units.

This course is intended as an extension and, in some ways, a reconsideration of many of the lessons learned in introductory fiction courses. While primarily a workshop, we will also be tracing some of the historical roots of the short story, starting with 19th-century "tales" by the likes of Flaubert and Gogol. As we move into the 20th century, we'll read Sherwood Anderson and James Joyce, classic Saturday Evening Post stories by O. Henry and F. Scott Fitzgerald, New Yorker writers like Dorothy Parker and Renata Adler, and also take a brief look at the 1960s/70s avant-garde. We’ll also look at contemporary writers like Lydia Davis and Kelly Link who draw on, respectively, essayistic and Gothic traditions. In our discussions, you will develop a broader, more nuanced understanding of the theories and techniques underpinning fiction writing and work to open up your aesthetic interests. For our workshop sessions, you might choose to in some way model your submissions off of any of the outside readings we consider, though this is not a requirement of the course.

Instructor(s): Will Boast     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 42100

CRWR 22117. Advanced Fiction Workshop: Beginning a Novel. 100 Units.

This course is for any student who has taken at least one other fiction workshop at the University and is interested in or already working on a novel. In the first few weeks of the course, we will read and discuss a selection of first chapters from some exemplary and diverse novels (like The Great Gatsby, Invisible Man, Beloved, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, The Age of Innocence, Lolita, and The Virgin Suicides) and discuss what a first chapter can—even should—do and the different ways that it can do these things. How do certain novels introduce characters, plot, setting, principle concerns and philosophies? How do they dive into the narrative in ways that intrigue or even challenge us? How do certain opening chapters teach us how to read the rest of the novel? These and other crucial questions will be addressed throughout the course, particularly during our workshops, where everyone will present the first chapter or two of their novel-in-progress. Along with the fundamentals of craft like language, characterization, plotting, and structure, etc., we will look at how we can adjust or rethink our opening chapters so that we can move forward more effectively with the larger project.   

Instructor(s): Vu Tran     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 42117

CRWR 23100. Advanced Poetry Workshop. 100 Units.

In this course, we will examine various formal, theoretical, and sociological currents in contemporary American poetry as a means of provoking and informing our own creative work in the lyric field. While the class will be a “writing workshop” first and foremost, we will also study recent books of poetry from a variety of contemporary “schools” at work in the fertile, sectarian, and maddeningly complex landscape of today’s lyric writing. We will also attend poetry readings by some of these authors here at the University in order to explore the world of contemporary verse as fully as possible. It is important to keep in mind, however, that this is ultimately a course about your work as a poet. Throughout the semester, we will read one another’s writing within the broad context of contemporary American poetics, and yet we will respect the solitary and idiosyncratic nature of the lyric enterprise as well.

Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 43100

CRWR 23113. Advanced Poetry Workshop: Waste, Surplus, Reuse. 100 Units.

What do poets do with surplus, with extras, leftovers, and other excesses of production? Is there a creative use to put them to? When viewed in the context of ecology and economy, what are the ethical dimensions of working with surplus? Or are there also ethics and aesthetics of the useless? With these guiding questions, this course will introduce students to methods for a creative approach to waste and develop revision practices that draw on the reuse of material surplus. We will consider forms of excess (literary, artistic, economic, material, etc.) and their creative applications. We’ll examine diverse types of waste and things that “waste”, including literal trash, ruins, the body, time, the dream, and everyday texts (such as emails, text messages, rough drafts, conversations, and ephemeral media). Ultimately, this course will help students engage in the revision process. Reading may include A. R. Ammons’ Garbage, Eliot’s The Waste Land, Jen Bervin’s Nets, Bernadette Mayer’s Midwinter Day, André Breton’s Mad Love, Joyelle McSweeney’s Dead Youth, or The Leaks, George Perec’s An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 43113

CRWR 24001. Advanced Nonfiction: Aiming for Publication. 100 Units.

This workshop is for students who are about to enter the real world and want to leave the ivory tower with a realistic view of their strengths and limitations. A forewarning: I can’t get you an editor or an agent. The only way to do that is to have a forceful and beautifully-written manuscript. This course is about how to begin that manuscript. It’s a workshop, meaning that you’re responsible for generating the majority of our text and our discussions. Every week we’ll read and discuss successful published work I’ve selected to specifically illustrate solutions to the problems that have come up in your and your classmates’ work. That’s because the best way to become a better writer is to become a better reader. If you learn nothing else in this course, you’ll learn that.

Instructor(s): Dan Raeburn     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 44001

CRWR 24002. Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Writing About the Arts. 100 Units.

Writing about the arts has long been a way for writers to investigate the wide world and to look inward. In this course, we’ll be focusing on the visual arts, and we’ll try to see how reflecting on painting, photography, installation art, and those arts that get called “decorative” gives us ways to consider the object in space, and also history, war, friendship, education, material culture, aesthetics, and coming-of-age. In writing, we will practice all kinds of forms: lyric fragments; polemics; reviews; catalog essays; museum wall texts; personal meditations on a single work; documentation of lost techniques and lost works; and history, criticism, and biography written for readers outside the academy. Students will also write a longer essay to be workshopped in class. We’ll read and discuss writers such as Susan Sontag, Geoff Dyer, Claudia Rankine, Tiana Bighorse, Rebecca Solnit, Zbigniew Herbert, Donald Judd, Octavio Paz, Mark Doty, Hervé Guibert, Kevin Young, Lawrence Weschler, and Walter Benjamin. Students will make some guided and some independent visits to museums, including the Art Institute, DuSable Museum of African American History, Smart Museum of Art, Oriental Institute Museum, and National Museum of Mexican Arts.  

Instructor(s): R. Cohen     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Submit nonfiction writing sample when applying to register for the course.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 44002,ARTH 34002,ARTH 24002

CRWR 24004. Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Writing in Crisis. 100 Units.

In this course, we’ll work to write about people and communities who are in crisis, on the verge of crisis, or looking back at crisis. We’ll discuss reporting, interviewing, oral history, historical research, working from photography and video, and the ethical situation of the writer. We’ll read works by writers such as Liu Xiaobo, Elena Poniatowska, Claudia Rankine, Rebecca Solnit, Edwidge Danticat, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Philip Gourevitch, Arundathi Roy, Leslie Marmon Silko, Rachel Carson, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, on subjects including migration, exile, prison, totalitarian regimes, dissidence, questions of reparation and reconciliation after systematic violence, and environmental activism. Students will undertake significant research and produce a substantial essay to be workshopped in class.

Instructor(s): Rachel Cohen     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 44004

CRWR 26003. Transmedia Game. 100 Units.

This experimental course explores the emerging game genre of “transmedia” or “alternate reality” gaming. Transmedia games use the real world as their platform while incorporating text, video, audio, social media, websites, and other forms. We will approach new media theory through the history, aesthetics, and design of transmedia games. Course requirements include weekly blog entry responses to theoretical readings; an analytical midterm paper; and collaborative participation in a single narrative-based transmedia game project. No preexisting technical expertise is required but a background in any of the following areas will help: creative writing, literary or media theory, web design, visual art, computer programming, performance, and game design.

Instructor(s): P. Jagoda     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 25953,ARTV 25401,CMST 25953,CMST 35953,CRWR 46003,ENGL 32311,TAPS 28455

CRWR 29200. Thesis/Major Projects: Fiction. 100 Units.

This advanced fiction course is for BA and MA students writing a creative thesis or any advanced student working on a major fiction project. It is primarily a workshop, so please come to our first class with your project in progress (a story collection, a novel, or a novella), ready for you to discuss and to submit some part of for critique. As in any writing workshop, we will stress the fundamentals of craft like language, voice, and plot and character development, with an eye also on how to shape your work for the longer form you have chosen. And as a supplement to our workshops, we will have brief student presentations on the writing life: our literary influences, potential avenues towards publication, etc.

Instructor(s): Vu Tran, Rachel DeWoskin, Will Boast     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Required for students working on BA or MA thesis in fiction, as well as students completing a minor portfolio in fiction.
Note(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 49200

CRWR 29300. Thesis/Major Projects: Poetry. 100 Units.

This course is an advanced seminar intended primarily for students writing a Creative BA or MA thesis, as well as advanced students who are working on major projects. Because it is a thesis seminar, the course will focus on various ways of organizing larger poetic “projects.” We will consider the poetic sequence, the chapbook, and the poetry collection as ways of extending the practice of poetry beyond the individual lyric text. We will also problematize the notion of broad poetic “projects,” considering the consequences of imposing a predetermined conceptual framework on the elusive, spontaneous, and subversive act of lyric writing. Because this course is designed as a poetry workshop, your fellow students’ work will be the primary text over the course of the quarter.

Instructor(s): Srikanth Reddy     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Required for students working on a BA or MA thesis in poetry, as well as students completing a minor portfolio in poetry.
Note(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 49300

CRWR 29400. Thesis/Major Projects: Creative Nonfiction. 100 Units.

This course is for students writing a creative BA or MA thesis in nonfiction, as well as Creative Writing minors completing the portfolio. If space allows I’ll also admit those who are working on a long piece of nonfiction on their own. It can be an extended essay, memoir, travelogue, literary journalism, or an interrelated collection thereof. It’s a workshop, so come to the first day of class with your work underway and ready to submit. You’ll edit your classmates' writing as diligently as you edit your own. I focus on editing because writing is, in essence, rewriting. Only by learning to edit other people’s work will you gradually acquire the objectivity you need to skillfully edit your own. You’ll profit not only from the advice you receive, but from the advice you learn to give. I will teach you to teach each other and thus yourselves, preparing you for the real life of the writer outside the academy.

Instructor(s): Dan Raeburn     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Required for students working on the BA/MA thesis in creative nonfiction, as well as Creative Writing Minors completing the portfolio in nonfiction.
Note(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 49400


Contacts

Undergraduate Primary Contact

Director of Undergraduate Studies
Vu Tran
Taft House 302

Email

Administrative Contact

Program Administrator
TBD
Taft House 103
773.834.8524

Chair

Associate Chair, Creative Writing & Poetics
Srikanth Reddy
Rosenwald 415E

Email

Listhost

creative-writing-@lists.uchicago.edu