English 290F - Spring, 2019

Creative Writing: Fiction

Class Information

Instructor: Houston, Pam
Time: R 12:10-3:00
Location: 120 Voorhies

Description

    Expanded Course Description:
    In this class we will investigate some of the essential components of fiction including (but not limited to) image, metaphor, form, structure, voice, dialogue, character, scene, beginnings, endings, narrative arc. We will enact, witness and critique what I believe to be the central mechanism of fiction: the translation of the emotional stakes of the story onto its physical landscape, the way we dip our ladles into the bottomless pot of metaphor soup that is our lived and imagined experience and pull out what we need. We will be aiming for layered stories in which every line is working at least two ways at once, stories in which the language is more than simply a flat bed trailer in which the writer hauls the content of the story around but occasionally rises into what Steve Almond calls the lyric register. We will also discuss, no doubt, the role of the fiction writer in these complicated political times.
    I feel that it is my job as workshop leader to create and hold a space in which students feel free to take stylistic, artistic, and emotional risks.
    Each student will be expected to turn in three new pieces of fiction during the course of the quarter (either stories or novel chapters), and turn in either a revision or a new story/chapter at the quarter's end. There will be weekly reading and brief weekly exercises at the beginning of the semester.
    Texts
    A Manuel For Cleaning Women, Lucia Berlin
    The Great Believers, Rebecca Makkai
    Going To Meet The Man, James Baldwin
    The Refugees, Viet Thanh Nguyen
    Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko




Grading

    Grading:
    Grading will be based on the quality of original material handed in as well as the quality of commentary on other participants' stories, and quality of discussion about the assigned reading.

Texts

    A Manual for Cleaning Women, Lucia Berlin
    Going To Meet The Man, James Baldwin
    The Refugees, Viet Thanh Nguyen
    The Great Believers, Rebecca Makkai
    Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko