English 290 - Winter, 2022

Creative Writing: Special Topic

Topic: Very Small Things (Short Prose/Prose-Poems/ Flash-Fiction/Nonfiction)

Class Information

Instructor: Corin, Lucy
Time: M 3:10-6:00
Location: 120 Voorhies


This is a writing workshop designed for MFA candidates in creative writing, but open to other experienced writers, space permitting, and with permission of instructor. (If you?re interested and not in the MFA program, email me with a sample of your applicable writing and a note about your interest in the course.)

In this class you can write fiction, nonfiction, prose-poems, anything in between. I didn?t call this a class in Flash Fiction because of that, and also because I don?t like the term, which has a tonal or aesthetic affect that I think is limiting to the form and if there?s one thing I hate it is limiting a form. Also because I want us to think not only about writing short pieces that stand on their own, but about how working on this scale can teach us about paragraphs and scenes, what is possible in them, and what makes them ?land?.

Reading: my first idea was for us to read the book of shorts I?ve studied most obsessively, Lydia Davis?s SAMUEL JOHNSON IS INDIGNANT, along with Gwendolyn Brooks? perfect novel MAUD MARTHA, which is composed of scenes that variously almost and absolutely stand on their own, as well as doing their work as scenes and episodes within the novel. But MAUD MARTHA is out of print and it took me months even to find a used copy for myself (though you can ?borrow? a digital copy from Internet Archives). So I recommend but don?t require these.

Instead, I?ll start us off with excerpts from those books along with some of my touchstone pieces, and we?ll all collect and contribute Very Small Things? some written to stand on their own, and some excerpted from longer works that almost or absolutely stand on their own.

(This class can count toward your ?out of genre? workshop if you focus on writing outside your primary genre in the context of a prose-centered course. If you want to do this, let?s talk on the first day about making sure you meet the standards.)


Grading is holistic and based on the quality of drafts, revision work, and consistent thoughtful and generous (ie, of mind) engagement with peer work and assigned texts.