Contacts | Minor Program in English and Creative Writing | Summary of Requirements for the Minor Program | Program Structure | 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 two interdisciplinary majors below; within the formal requirements of the minor program in English and Creative Writing described below; in other programs of study, with approval to count writing courses toward requirements; or among the eight to eighteen electives available to students across the range of other programs of study.

Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities

Students wishing to engage the dialogues between creative writing and other studies in the humanities, including artistic media (e.g., dance, film, theater, visual arts), may apply to explore writing opportunities through one of the options in the Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities major.

English Language and Literature

Students majoring in English Language and Literature may choose to produce a creative writing thesis to satisfy part of the requirement for honors. Prior to the end of their third year, students must complete at least two creative writing courses in the genre (poetry, fiction, or nonfiction) of their BA project. At least one must be an advanced course, in which the student has earned a B+ or higher. In Winter Quarter of their fourth year, students will work intensively on their projects in the context of a designated creative writing thesis seminar.

To do a creative writing BA project, students must fill out a declaration form available at the English undergraduate office by the spring of their third year. On this form they declare their intent to write a creative writing BA project in a specific genre and list the two creative writing courses in the relevant genre that they have taken as prerequisites for doing the BA project.

Students work on their project over three quarters. Early in Autumn Quarter of their fourth year, students will be assigned a graduate student preceptor. In Autumn Quarter, students will attend a series of colloquia led by their graduate preceptor. In Winter Quarter, students will continue meeting with their graduate preceptor. In addition, students must enroll in one of the creative BA project workshops in their genre. Students are not automatically enrolled in a workshop; they must receive the consent of the workshop instructor, who will also serve as their faculty adviser for their creative BA project. These workshops are advanced courses limited to eight students and will include not only students majoring in English but also those in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (ISHU) and the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH) who are producing creative theses. Students will work closely with their faculty adviser and with their peers in the workshops and will receive course credit as well as a final grade for the workshop. 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 adviser.

In consultation with their faculty adviser and graduate preceptor, students revise and resubmit a near final draft of their creative BA projects by the beginning of the third week of Spring Quarter. Students submit the final version of their creative BA project to their preceptor, faculty adviser, and the undergraduate program assistant by the beginning of the fifth week of Spring Quarter. The project will then be evaluated by the faculty adviser, graduate preceptor, and director of undergraduate studies to determine whether the student will be recommended for honors.

Minor Program in English and Creative Writing

Students who are not English 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) courses, with at least one being a Special Topic or Advanced Workshop. Three of the remaining required courses may be taken in either the Department of English (ENGL) or Creative Writing Program (CRWR). In addition, students must enroll in one of the following workshops offered during the Winter Quarter: CRWR 27200 Portfolio Workshop in Fiction, CRWR 27300 Portfolio Workshop in Poetry (CRWR 29300 Thesis/Major Projects: Poetry when a portfolio workshop is not offered), or 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 coordinator 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 coordinator. The coordinator'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. NOTE: Students completing this minor will not be given enrollment preference for CRWR courses, and they must follow all relevant admission procedures described at the Creative Writing website.

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

Two CRWR courses (at least one being a Special Topics or Advanced Workshop)200
Three CRWR or ENGL electives300
One Portfolio/Projects Workshop *100
A portfolio of the student's work
Total Units600
*

 CRWR 27200 Portfolio Workshop in Fiction, CRWR 27300 Portfolio Workshop in Poetry, or CRWR 29400 Thesis/Major Projects: Creative Nonfiction

Sample Plans of Study

SAMPLE PLAN OF STUDY 1
ENGL 16500Shakespeare I: Histories and Comedies100
ENGL 10706Introduction to Fiction100
ENGL 26909The American Novel, 1950–1990100
CRWR 27200Portfolio Workshop in Fiction100
CRWR 12014Special Topics in Fiction: Not Your Native Language100
CRWR 10255Fundamentals of Fiction: CW Track100
A portfolio of the student's work (two short stories)
Total Units600
SAMPLE PLAN OF STUDY 2
ENGL 10400Introduction to Poetry100
CRWR 23100Advanced Poetry Workshop100
ENGL 16500Shakespeare I: Histories and Comedies100
ENGL 26708Modernist Poetry: Yeats, Eliot, Pound100
CRWR 10305Fundamentals of Poetry100
CRWR 27300Portfolio Workshop in Poetry100
A portfolio of the student's work (ten short poems)
Total Units600

Program Structure

Creative Writing courses are cross-listed to enable students to apply to courses based on their level of preparation rather than on their level in the degree program. Courses are organized in the following way:

Core

These multi-genre courses are introductions to topics in Creative Writing and satisfy the general education requirement in dramatic, musical, and visual arts in the College. Core classes 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 undergraduates only. Fifteen students per class.

Fundamentals

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. Twelve students per class.

Fundamentals: CW Track

These courses are open to all students but will give priority to those who are on track to declare a Creative Writing minor or to complete the Creative BA or MAPH creative writing option. Unlike the normal Fundamentals courses, these courses are not open bid and require submission of a writing sample and the consent of the instructor. Twelve students per class.

Special Topics

These courses are intended for students with some writing experience in a particular genre. They will be intensive seminars on particulars of form, concept, and method, and will feature workshops of student writing. Admission is determined by submission of a writing sample and requires experience in a Fundamentals course in the same genre or instructor consent. See course descriptions for specific submission requirements. Writing samples are due online in advance of the term by the submission deadline. Twelve students per class.

Advanced

These courses are intended for students with substantive writing experience in a particular genre. They are advanced workshops that will focus on class critiques of student writing with accompanying readings from exemplary literary texts. Admission is determined by submission of a writing sample and requires experience in a Fundamentals course in the same genre or instructor consent. See course descriptions for specific submission requirements. Writing samples are due online in advance of the term by the submission deadline. Ten students per class.

Portfolio Workshop

This course is limited to students working on creative portfolios for the Creative Writing minor requirements, with possible room for non-minor students working on an advanced project in a particular genre. It will revolve around workshops of student writing and also concentrate on the larger form students have chosen for their project. Students must check with their respective departments about the prerequisites and requirements necessary to pursue the Creative Writing minor, and they must get permission to take a Portfolio Workshop. Eight students per class.

Thesis/Major Projects

This course is limited to students working on creative theses for BA and MA requirements, with possible room for non-thesis students working on a major project in a particular genre. It will revolve around workshops of student writing and also concentrate on the larger form students have chosen for their project. Students must check with their respective departments about the prerequisites and requirements necessary to pursue creative theses, and they must get permission to take a thesis seminar. Eight students per class.

Cross-Listed Courses

Courses originated by other departments that include creative writing components are cross listed by Creative Writing (CRWR).

Required Writing Samples

Consent of instructor is typically required to enroll in Creative Writing courses, based on faculty review of student writing samples. For specific sample submission requirements, see course descriptions. Submission deadlines are:

  • Autumn Quarter, September 9
  • Winter Quarter, November 18
  • Spring Quarter, February 24

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 10205. Fundamentals of Fiction. 100 Units.

This beginning workshop is designed to encourage and refine your skills in writing fiction. Ideally, it will also refine you as a reader and a critic. We will approach every work of fiction we read, whether published or workshopped, from the writer’s perspective: in terms of form, character, and language, and how the writer succeeds, fails, or innovates in these areas. And since fiction, like any art, is essentially an expression of who we are and how we see the world, we will also begin developing our individual voices as writers. For the course, you will complete one full-length story, which you will present for class critique, and then write a significant revision of that story, which you will either present for a second workshop or turn into the instructor at the end of the quarter. The course will also include a series of writing exercises and readings in canonical and contemporary short fiction, all intended to stoke your creativity and illuminate the aesthetic traditions that inform your work.

Terms Offered: Autumn, Winter, Spring
Prerequisite(s): Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu.
Note(s): Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 30205

CRWR 10255. Fundamentals of Fiction: CW Track. 100 Units.

Fiction writing is part magic and part mechanics. This class will forgo the magic and 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 class 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 class 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.

Terms Offered: Autumn,Winter,Spring
Prerequisite(s): Open to all students but priority given to those who are interested in pursuing the Creative BA or Creative Writing Minor.
Note(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 30255

CRWR 10305. Fundamentals of Poetry. 100 Units.

Based on the premise that successful experimentation stems from a deep understanding of tradition, this course will help students gain a foundation in poetic constructions while encouraging risk-taking in expression and craft. It will expose students to ways that poets have both employed and resisted patterns in meter, line, and rhyme, and it will ask students to experiment with constraints as a way of playing with formal limitations in their own poems. Students will also explore innovations in diction, syntax, and voice, and apply what they learn from these investigations in workshop discussions. While delving into work by both canonical and emerging poets, students will draft and revise a significant portfolio of their own poems.

Terms Offered: Autumn, Winter, Spring
Prerequisite(s): Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu.
Note(s): Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 30305

CRWR 10405. Fundamentals of Nonfiction. 100 Units.

In this workshop you are free to write about anything at all as long as you do so in an intimate and personal, rather than academic, voice. To that end you will try your hand at a true story—be it a memoir, travelogue, anecdote, character study, essay or argument—and submit it to your classmates, who will edit and critique it. Together we will refine our narratives and our prose, primarily by insisting on rigorous reflection and total honesty. Finding your voice takes time, but we have only ten weeks. So come to the first day of class with ideas and work already underway and ready to share. Be prepared to finish three total rewrites of your work in progress. We will also read and discuss published exemplars of the form. You will leave this class with a polished work sample to use for admission to more advanced courses.

Terms Offered: Autumn, Winter, Spring
Prerequisite(s): Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu.
Note(s): Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 30405

CRWR 12012. Special Topics in Fiction: World-Building. 100 Units.

Readers can be quick to accept an unbelievable story as long as the cover asserts that it's true, but fictional narratives come with no such scaffolding, and therefore must feel authentic to overcome the fact that they’re inventions. Not all stories worry over plausibility in the same way—an absurd tale, a science fiction narrative, and a realistic contemporary drama carry different expectations of what can be real, but all of them employ devices to make the experience feel reasonable and compelling to a reader. In this course we'll explore the ways in which a narrative universe can be built into something which feels rich and immersive, without bogging down plot or losing sight of character. We'll discuss the particular responsibilities different stories have to offer character background, setting detail, or plot-explanation, with special attention on how individual scenes are designed, including the ways in which writers balance exposition and action on the page, and how a fictional universe can establish its own inner logic. Over the quarter, students will study a wide range of mostly short fiction, eventually bringing their own stories to workshop.

Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Fundamentals of Fiction (CRWR 10205 or CRWR 10255), Beginning Fiction (CRWR 10200), or Honors Beginning Fiction (CRWR 10250)
Note(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 32012

CRWR 12014. Special Topics in Fiction: Not Your Native Language. 100 Units.

In this specialized fiction workshop, students will read work written in English by writers whose first languages are not English, as well as works in translation. We will explore how linguistic heritage shapes our phrases, and work to create prose that is inimitable, lyrical, and absent of cliché. Students will practice translating both from languages they know and don’t know. Readings include Xiaolu Guo, Ha Jin, Nabokov, and Pound.

Instructor(s): Rachel DeWoskin     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Fundamentals of Fiction (CRWR 10205 or CRWR 10255), Beginning Fiction (CRWR 10200), or Honors Beginning Fiction (CRWR 10250)
Note(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 42014

CRWR 12017. Special Topics in Fiction: The Short Story in Context. 100 Units.

This fiction workshop is for students who have taken a Fundamentals or Special Topics in Fiction course and wish to continue to refine and develop their understanding of the art form. In our outside readings, we’ll strategically pair works from the 19th and early-20th centuries with more contemporary short stories. We’ll consider, for example, Poe’s Gothic tale “William Wilson” alongside Kelly Link’s neo-Gothic “Stone Animals.” Or we’ll examine variations on the Joycean epiphany in stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ann Beattie, and Lydia Davis. Critical essays by the likes of Freud, Twain, and Charles Baxter will help us ground our exploration into the revival and modification of literary traditions over the decades and centuries. 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: 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 32017

CRWR 12018. Special Topics in Fiction: The Young Adult Novel. 100 Units.

The books and stories we read as teenagers are often some of the most influential in developing our tastes as adult readers and writers of fiction. In this advanced workshop class, we’ll discuss the genre of young adult literature through evaluation of your own writing: what are its defining characteristics, and what’s the difference between writing for a young adult audience versus writing books and stories about teenagers but designed for adult readers? Students should be working on book-length projects involving teenaged protagonists, no matter the intended audience; please come to the first session with either work to submit or a sense of when you’d be able to sign up for a slot. We’ll spend most of our time evaluating student work, learning how to become both generous and rigorous critics, and we’ll also talk about the books that influenced us the most as young adult readers and the books we’re reading today, from contemporary writers like John Green and Rainbow Rowell to classic authors like S.E. Hinton and Madeleine L’Engle. Students will read at least one or two novels during the quarter as well.

Instructor(s): Michelle Falkoff     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 32018

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): John Wilkinson     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Open bid through classes.uchicago.edu. If course is full, sign up for wait list at creativewriting.uchicago.edu/courses/waiting-list.
Note(s): This course meets the general education requirement in dramatic, musical, and visual arts. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.

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 dramatic, musical, and visual arts.

CRWR 12109. Introduction to Genres: Wizards. 100 Units.

Do you believe in wizards? Are you a wizard? Then pack up your talismans, fetishes, and gamelans into the mysterious little satchel you carry at your side and get ready for some incantatory magic. We will investigate the figure of the wizard as an archetype, a literary symbol, a vehicle for fantasy, and as a commanding reality while considering such things as A Wizard of Earthsea, the figure of Merlin, The Teachings of Don Juan, The Teachings of Ogotemmeli, Harry Potter, Aleister Crowley, the poetry of W.B. Yeats, Nathaniel Mackey, Jay Wright, Ronald Johnson, as well as some other things too secret to reveal at present, including the nature of esotericism.

Instructor(s): Peter O'Leary     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 dramatic, musical, and visual arts.

CRWR 12115. Intro to Genres: The Surveilled City and the Googled Chicago. 100 Units.

This course invites readers to reconsider Chicago as collage constructed through literary, real, and virtual navigation.  We’ll examine work by writers and artists including Chris Ware, Steve Bogira, Theodore Dreiser, Lauren Fairbanks, Christina Ramberg, and Arthur Siegel.  At what points does Chicago’s necropolis “peek out” here?  Versus Walt Whitman, how does the artist’s eye retain defining power in the 21st century?  Is there such a thing as a “Chicago flaneur?”  In exploration of these questions, participants will develop their own individual and collaborative creative responses to “the world’s second most closely observed city.” 

Instructor(s): Garin Cycholl     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 dramatic, musical, and visual arts.

CRWR 13015. Special Topics in Poetry: Poetic Appropriation & Collage. 100 Units.

This course will consider “appropriation” and collage as techniques of composition, concept, and (in some sense) inevitabilities of twentieth-century poetics. While reading works by Howe, Stanford, Mac Low, Cage, and others, we will expand our criteria for textual production – and produce our own creative and critical texts. Through class discussion and assignments like the cento, the diastic, peer appropriation, and the collaborative poem, students will develop a more nuanced understanding of the myriad of ways in which texts (and writers) can be in dialogue with each other, outside/alongside of the traditional modes of “influence.”

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 33015

CRWR 13016. Special Topics in Poetry: Units of Composition. 100 Units.

How do poets conceive of and work with the most essential particles of poetry? That is, what are poetry’s basic units of composition, and how do their deployments affect the larger structures and rhythms of poems? This class 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 approaches, such as the foot, metrical lines, 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 basic syntax), the paragraph, the page, and forms of call and response. Readings will draw from a wide selection of work, likely including selection of Shakespeare, Donne, Whitman, Dickinson, Hopkins, Mallarmé, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Koch, John Ashbery, Lyn Hejinian, Ron Silliman, James Tate, and Harriet Mullen. Students will be expected to experiment with various units of composition, submit poems for workshop discussion, write an academic essay, and submit a final portfolio of revised material. Students should submit a writing sample of 3-5 poems to apply for the class.

Instructor(s): Nathan Hoks     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 33016

CRWR 14011. Special Topics in Nonfiction: Reading and Writing Memoir. 100 Units.

Are memoirs inherently self-indulgent, or is the self that they indulge that of the reader, not the author? In this class you’ll a) write your own attempt at a memoir, learning firsthand the pitfalls of the genre, and b) look at the genre’s historical landmarks, such as Rousseau’s Confessions and St. Augustine’s Confessions, and at early novels, which almost invariably presented themselves as found texts or letters, i.e., as faux memoirs, and still do. (“Call me Ishmael.”) Although your memoir is about what happened, ultimately it has to be about what what happened means. So we’ll ask each other this question in workshop, via intensive line edits and more qualitative, essayistic critiques. We’ll study exemplars by Orwell, Nabokov, Rian Malan, and Lucy Grealy, as well as craft books such as The Situation and the Story, by Vivian Gornick, Then, Again: Time and the Art of Memoir, by Sven Birkerts, To Show and To Tell, by Phillip Lopate. You’ll learn the history of the form by reading Memoir: A History, by Ben Yagoda.

Instructor(s): Dan Raeburn     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Fundamentals of Nonfiction (CRWR 10405), Beginning Nonfiction (CRWR 10400), or Honors Beginning Nonfiction (CRWR 10450)
Note(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 34011

CRWR 14012. Special Topics in Nonfiction: Knowledge Journalism. 100 Units.

Knowledge journalists specialize in covering complex topics for a general audience, informing their coverage with current research findings and often infusing their coverage with overt advocacy. They have been praised for bringing intelligent focus to vital issues, such as climate change, and blamed for oversimplifying or misusing science. We will study the knowledge journalists with an eye to practicing and perfecting their craft, both in the synthesis of research and the execution of eloquent writing. Students will choose an area of speciality and practice translating current research into language accessible and enjoyable to a lay audience. Readings will include prominent knowledge journalists past and present including Walter Lippman, Rachel Carson, Joan Didion, David Brooks, Fareed Zakaria, Naomi Klein, and Michael Pollan, as well as vital texts on the phenomenon of knowledge journalism including “A Free and Responsible Press” (1947) by Robert Maynard Hutchins, et al, and “Informing the News” (2013) by Harvard Professor Thomas Patterson.

Instructor(s): Jeff McMahon     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Fundamentals of Nonfiction (CRWR 10405), Beginning Nonfiction (CRWR 10400), or Honors Beginning Nonfiction (CRWR 10450), OR Instructor Consent.
Note(s): Instructor consent required. To apply, send a statement describing your field of expertise and your intent for practicing journalism in place of a writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 34012

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): Fundamentals of Fiction (CRWR 10205 or CRWR 10255), Beginning Fiction (CRWR 10200), or Honors Beginning Fiction (CRWR 10250)
Note(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 22116. Advanced Fiction Workshop: Not Your Native Language. 100 Units.

In this specialized fiction workshop, students will read work written in English by writers whose first languages are not English, as well as works in translation. We will explore how linguistic heritage shapes our phrases, and work to create prose that is inimitable, lyrical, and absent of cliché. Students will practice translating both from languages they know and don’t know. Readings include Xiaolu Guo, Ha Jin, Nabokov, and Pound.

Instructor(s): Rachel DeWoskin     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Fundamentals of Fiction (CRWR 10205 or CRWR 10255), Beginning Fiction (CRWR 10200), or Honors Beginning Fiction (CRWR 10250)
Note(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 42116

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

This class 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 its characters, its plot, its setting, its 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 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): Fundamentals of Nonfiction (CRWR 10405), Beginning Nonfiction (CRWR 10400), or Honors Beginning Nonfiction (CRWR 10450)
Note(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, the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Smart Museum of Art, the Oriental Institute, and the 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 24003. Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: The Essay. 100 Units.

In this course, we will begin by reading contemporary essays and we’ll work our way backward in the history of the essay, writing as we go, and sharpening our sense of what the essay can be, and can be for us.  Every week we'll read different essays (by such writers as Edwidge Danticat, David Foster Wallace, Jamaica Kincaid, Jane Brox, V.S. Naipaul, Italo Calvino, Elizabeth Bishop, Zora Neale Hurston, Charles Darwin, Olaudah Equiano, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Francis Bacon, Michel de Montaigne).  Many of these writers wrote of traveling, and we’ll think about relationships between the essay and unfamiliar landscapes.  In written exercises and two drafts of a longer essay to be workshopped in class, we’ll work on challenges of observation, reflection, structuring the reader’s experience, and positioning the self in the landscape.  

Instructor(s): Rachel Cohen     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): Note(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 44003

CRWR 27102. Beginning Screenwriting. 100 Units.

This course introduces the basic elements of a literate screenplay, including format, exposition, characterization, dialog, voice-over, adaptation, and the vagaries of the three-act structure. Weekly meetings include a brief lecture period, screenings of scenes from selected films, extended discussion, and assorted readings of class assignments. Because this is primarily a writing class, students write a four- to five-page weekly assignment related to the script topic of the week.

Instructor(s): J. Petrakis     Terms Offered: Autumn,Winter
Equivalent Course(s): TAPS 15500

CRWR 27200. Portfolio Workshop in Fiction. 100 Units.

This course is for students minoring in creative writing or any advanced student working on a serious fiction project. It is primarily a workshop, so please come to our first class with a project in progress (short stories from a collection, excerpts from a novel or a novella), ready for you to discuss and to submit for critique. Everyone will workshop two pieces from their project, and 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. Throughout the quarter, we will also read and discuss a selection of essays and fiction that will hopefully deepen everyone’s engagement with their own work.

Instructor(s): Vu Tran; Rachel DeWoskin     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Required for the Creative Writing Minor.
Note(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 47200

CRWR 27300. Portfolio Workshop in Poetry. 100 Units.

This course is for students minoring in creative writing or any advanced student working on a serious poetry project. It is primarily a workshop, so please come to our first class with a project in progress, ready for you to discuss and to submit for critique. Everyone will workshop several poems from their project, and as in any writing workshop, we will stress the fundamentals of craft like language and voice, with an eye also on how to shape your work for the longer form you have chosen. Throughout the quarter, we will also read and discuss a selection of essays and poems that will hopefully deepen everyone’s engagement with their own work.

Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Required for the Creative Writing Minor.
Note(s): Instructor consent required. Submit writing sample via www.creativewriting.uchicago.edu. Attendance on the first day is mandatory.
Equivalent Course(s): CRWR 47300

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.
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 class 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.
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


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Committee Chair
John Wilkinson
Taft House 301

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Committee Coordinator
Jessica Haley
Taft House 103
773.834.8524
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Listhost

creative-writing-@lists.uchicago.edu