English 237 - Spring, 2020

Seminar for Writers

Class Information

Instructor: Peterson, Katie
CRN: 84086
Time: M 12:10-3:00
Location: 120 Voorhies
Breadth: Later American
Focus: Genre


237: Seminar for Writers / On Keeping a Notebook
Katie Peterson
Spring 2020

Notebooks help writers keep writing. They aid us in staying in the present moment. They are the literary equivalent of the visual artist?s studio ? a space in which to experiment. Though associated with mess and process, the writer?s notebook can also be a place of decision, resolution, vow, and promise. In this craft seminar, we will read notebooks by writers, literary work of merit that emerges from those notebooks, and contemporary hybrid work that uses the notebook form as a point of departure. Writers keep notebooks for all sorts of reasons ? spiritual crisis, political witness, gossip. What freedom does the notebook afford in its staged privacy? Do secrets exist anymore when they get written down? How can notebooks help us see writerly style in its early form? Writers of all genres are welcome to this advanced seminar, where we will treat works by storytellers, memoirists, and poets.

This course has two objectives: (1) for participants to read, close read, and do written critiques of the notebooks of writers and the literary works that emerge alongside and because of that writing; (2) for participants to create a work of substantial length (10 to 20 pages) in the form of the notebook, or generated by that form.


Grading will be based on class participation (contributions to class discussions of assigned reading, participation in workshop conversation and critique, and written commentary on others? work) and on written work, which will include short critical response papers and a creative project.


Toi Derricote, The Black Notebooks
Renee Gladman, Calamities
Gerard Manley Hopkins, Journals and Poems
Robert Lowell, Notebook
Linda Norton, Wite Out
Flannery O'Connor, Prayer Journal
Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood
Stephanie Sauer, Almonds are Members of the Peach Family
Charles Simic, The Monster in His Labyrinth
Sei Shonagon, The Pillow Book