LITERATURE 3731: Creative Writing Spring 2008, UHCL
Instructor: Craig White 7-9:50pm Thursdays, Bayou 1219
Office: 2529-8 Bayou email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 281 283 3380 Office Hours: T 7-9, Th 1-3, by apptmt Caveat: Data stated and contracts implied in this syllabus may change with minimal notice in fair hearings at class meetings.
Course webpage address: http://coursesite.uhcl.edu/HSH/Whitec/LITR/3731
1. To “unlearn” the conventional image of a creative writer as a tortured, neglected genius working alone in a garret producing masterpieces overnight.
2. To cultivate alternative images of writers working together productively in disciplined routines and cooperative relations with other writers and Authors (workshops and draft exchanges).
3. To develop a friendly but rigorous atmosphere where students gain practice and confidence in producing, sharing, and revising their writing.
4. Beyond self-expression, to learn how to help others with creative writing.
5. To nurture the attitude that each draft or manuscript presented or submitted is always a “work in progress” under the essential practice of revision.
6. To learn constitutive and critical elements of standard creative genres like lyric poetry and prose fiction.
7. To evaluate academic and popular standards for literature
Graded Assignments (details below):
Percentages listed are only symbolic of approximate relative weight; grades are not computed mathematically but by letter grades, which may include pluses and minuses. Pluses and minuses may appear on final grades.
· Workshop activities, exchanges, general participation 25%
· Reading quizzes 10% (more if grades are consistently low)
· Grades for submissions of poetry and fiction 40%
· final exam 25%
Grading attitude: Grades are assigned partly for effort and quantity of a student’s work as evident in submissions but especially for quality of work compared with other students’ work. Standards are set by students as well as by instructor. Each grade must be fair to all students and not just generous to one.
Warning: positive feedback by instructor or class will be generally honest but should not be taken as sign of high grade.
Attendance policy: You are expected to attend every scheduled class meeting but are permitted one free cut without comment or penalty. If you miss more than one meeting (including the first), you jeopardize your status in the course. If you continue to cut or miss (especially early classes), drop the course. Even with medical or other emergency excuses, excessive absences or partial absences result in a lower or failing grade.
or, What This Creative Writing Course Does Not Do for You
Don’t ask or expect the instructor to read and
critique specimens of your writing beyond the course assignments. Instead, this
course primarily offers instruction and practice in developing working relations
with peer groups.
· Information or instruction about publishing is offered only occasionally. Publishing is a labor-intensive field in which you or an agent must promote your work at your own risk. The instructor can’t be expected to help you publish or to offer any but the broadest advice regarding publication.
On the Other Hand, Here’s a Potentially
Bad Thing This Creative Writing Course Doesn’t Do
This course does not shun “popular” or “genre”
literature such as romance or fantasy fiction, or sentimental or greeting-card
poems, for the sake of making everything properly literary or sophisticated.
Good writing may appear in any genre, for any audience. (See objective 7.)
· Our workshop methods of this course are careful not to “crush” students with hostile or negative criticism. Some precocious students who prefer a more intensive style may feel impatient with the carefully affirmative model set by the instructor or other students. They remain always free to speak for themselves. This may be a no-win situation, but it’s probably better to err in the direction of positive reinforcement, since many students will never take another creative writing course. This is our one opportunity to encourage each other to continue to improve and not to give up.
Late & Early Submissions Warning
Submissions received after 36-hour due periods may be
downgraded severely, especially if the student has not communicated on the issue
with the instructor. The severity of grade reduction may depend on whether the
problem is chronic and the student is generally helpful to the course. The
extent of grade reduction for late submissions may not become known until the
final grade report.
· Students are also warned not to submit assignments drastically early. Offering a completed assignment far in advance of a due date creates negative impressions that you feel you have nothing to learn from the course. (Plus, one past student who tried this was handing in plagiarized work.)
Email and webpage contributions
This course has a webpage featuring basic information about the course, student models of required assignments, and some research links. The web address is http://coursesite.uhcl.edu/HSH/Whitec/LITR/3731. If convenient, install it as a “favorite” on your web browser for easy access.
Each student must make several contributions to the webpage through the instructor via email or other electronic means.
Required email contributions:
1. Discussion Leader’s questions for presentations (before or after presentation)
2. poetry and fiction submissions
Optional email contributions: Authors making presentations are welcome to email draft manuscripts to the instructor ahead of the presentation, at which time they can be posted to the webpage for projection during the presentation, but not required.
Email address: Send all emails to email@example.com. Note the "c" at the end of "whitec." If you send the email to "white" only, it goes to the wrong professor.
Attachments, etc.: Try both of the following
· “Attach” your word processing file to an email message. (My computer uses Microsoft Word 2000. The only word processing programs my computer appears unable to translate are Microsoft Works and Apple programs. If in doubt, save your word processing file in "Rich Text Format" or a “text only” format.)
· If you’re not using Word, paste the contents of your file directly into the email message.
If you have trouble reaching me by email, save your word processing file to a 3½“ floppy disk and give it to me. If your name is on the disk, I’ll eventually return it.
Student computer access: Every enrolled student at UHCL is assigned an email account on the university server. For information about your account and password, call the university help desk at 281 283 2828.
Reassurances: You are not graded on your expertise in electronic media but on your intelligence in reading literature, discussing it, and writing about it. I’ve tried similar email exercises for several semesters; a few students encounter a few problems, but, if we don’t give up, these problems always work out. Your course grade will not suffer for mistakes with email and related issues as long as I see you making a fair effort.
Descriptions of Workshop Assignments
· Poetry & Fiction Presentations
· Draft Exchanges (in person or email)
· Reading highlight
· Reading & participation expectations
Poetry and Fiction Presentations
Overall expectations regarding presentations:
Every poetry and fiction presentation has two leaders:
the “Author” and the “Discussion Leader.”
· Each student will participate in leading one poetry presentation and one fiction presentation, once as Author and once as Discussion Leader.
· As with all presentation assignments, who functions as Author or Discussion Leader in which genre is decided partly by choice, partly by chance.
· The Author and Discussion Leader for each presentation must work together before, during, and sometimes after the class at which they present.
Combined duties of Author and Discussion Leader:
· The Author and Discussion Leader will cooperate before, during, and after class in presenting and leading a class-wide discussion of a required draft.
· The Author and Discussion Leader may cooperate more extensively before and after the presentation in terms of reviewing and revising the manuscript, but such additional collaboration is not required.
Specific duties of Author and Discussion Leader:
· The Author is primarily responsible for preparing an appropriate draft manuscript that is edited, copied, and ready for the Discussion Leader and the class to read and review. However, s/he also has the following responsibilities:
· Make copies of draft manuscript for class. (App. 26 copies; instructor can help.)
· Read manuscript (or portion) aloud to class to begin presentation. (Author may preface briefly with context or any other essential issues.)
· Share manuscript with Discussion Leader at least an hour before class and preferably a day or two before class, either by email or in person.
· Author may send manuscript to instructor for posting to course webpage.
· Author answers questions from Discussion Leader and class in discussion.
· Author may comment and ask questions of class regarding manuscript.
· Author concludes by summarizing discussion, previewing possible changes.
Discussion leader assignment (revised from original 2008 syllabus)
Discussion Leader: The Discussion Leader is primarily responsible for reviewing the manuscript before class and then preparing and leading discussion after the Author reads the manuscript to the class.
Description of Discussion Leader:
Overall format of presentation
1. Author & Discussion Leader are announced. Author distributes copies of manuscript.
2. Author makes brief introductory remarks. In the case of a poem, Author may identify whether it’s free-verse or fixed-form or any issues with which s/he seeks help. For a fictional scene, the Author could identify whether it’s part of a larger fictional piece and, if necessary, the context of the scene.
3. Author reads manuscript (or parts of it) aloud.
4. Discussion Leader opens floor to questions or comments, calls on students, and follows up or mediates as necessary. Instructor may help. Author may intervene at any time.
5. Discussion Leader asks 1 or 2 questions of Author. Discussion Leader may also ask specific editing questions (i. e., spelling, punctuation) as necessary, but these should probably come later in discussion.
6. Author answers questions. Larger discussion may follow. Discussion Leader leads, but Author may intervene as necessary.
7. Time permitting, Discussion Leader asks 1 or 2 questions for the class to stimulate further discussion as necessary. Discussion Leader leads, but Author provides answers and may intervene as necessary. Either Discussion Leader, Author, or Instructor may call on students, follow up, or mediate as necessary.
8. Author summarizes input, previews possible changes.
9. Instructor may comment as necessary regarding manuscript or discussion.
10. Students’ paper copies may be marked up and offered to author.
(after presentation, before final submission of manuscript)
11. Author is expected to make at least some changes to manuscript in light of discussion. Instructor will be unpleasantly surprised if the exact same manuscript appears as the final submission—or explain in “revision account.”
12. Discussion Leader emails instructor a brief summary of questions and possibly other discussion highlights for posting to the webpage. (These may be sent before the presentation.)
Draft Exchanges (in-person or email)
Overall expectations regarding draft exchanges:
You may work with other students as much as you like, in person or by email or otherwise, in revising your manuscripts or helping others with theirs.
· For the poetry or fiction assignment that a student is not presenting to class, that assignment must be edited and revised through a draft exchange involving an Author and two Reviewers. (At least one reviewer must be a fellow student in our course.)
· The purpose of the draft exchange is to help you revise your manuscript and to provide content for the “Revision Account” required in your poetry or fiction submission.
· For the manuscript s/he is not presenting to the whole class, the Author provides at least two other students with one or more manuscripts for review. The Author may explain contexts and ask for specific help.
· The Reviewers read your manuscript, evaluate it, ask questions, and make suggestions
· The Author may respond to the reviewers with comments about changes and revised manuscript. (This cycle may be repeated as often as profitable.)
· Or the Author may simply absorb the first round of suggestions and explain how they were incorporated in the “Revision Account” that accompanies the submission.
Justification for draft exchanges:
· Critiquing either a poetry or a fiction manuscript outside of class frees up time that would be taken if each student read both a poetry and fiction manuscript.
· Email draft exchanges provide an exercise in non-classroom, self-directed sharing and editing of creative writing.
This assignment is a briefer version of the “discussion-starter” assignment in previous classes.
· Choose a passage (or two brief, related passages) from the day’s reading assignments.
· Direct class to page(s)—help with different editions by citing chapters, paragraph numbers or ledes.
· Briefly preview reading with context, why you chose it, what to look for, etc.
· Read passage aloud.
· Briefly comment and invite further comments or ask discussion question based on passage.
· No posting required.
· Given our emphasis on the workshop, students cannot “sit out” discussion on a regular basis. Neither should they inappropriately dominate discussion.
· The quality and quantity of a student’s participation, both in workshop and instruction situations, is factored into their overall grade.
· For manuscript discussion, students should make “one point at a time” rather than having a long list of issues.
· For reading discussions, each student should participate at least occasionally by referring to contents or specific pages of the reading assignment.
· Students should give evidence of participation by “tracking” discussions. Students who act unusually bored usually blame it on content, but it’s often a sign they haven’t prepared or are incapable or unwilling to help.
Descriptions of Assignments: Written Submissions
· Discussion Leaders’ Questions
· Reading Quizzes
· Poetry & Fiction Submissions + Revision Accounts
· Final Exam
Discussion Leaders’ Questions
· Discussion Leaders email instructor questions to the Author and the Class for posting to webpage. Questions may be emailed before or after class.
· See 2006 “Model Assignments” for models of how these questions can appear.
· Any class with a Three Genres reading assignment may feature a quiz on the pages you were expected to read.
· Quizzes are given one time only. If you come in after the quiz has been given, or if you miss a class, please do not ask if you can take the quiz. I strongly appreciate your not asking me, and I very much dislike being asked. You risk losing more by asking than you do by missing the quiz.
· Even if you are unprepared for the quiz, you should turn in a quiz with your name on it, as the quizzes are used for taking attendance.
· Answer the questions as briefly and accurately as possible, as I grade them very quickly. In most cases, a few words or phrases will suffice. You do not need to answer in complete sentences.
· Grades range from “checks” for correct answers to “X’s” for no right answers to combinations of these grades with pluses or minuses for combinations of right and wrong answers.
· You are expected to make checks or check-minuses on all but one or two of your quizzes. Failure to take or turn in quizzes, or overall quiz grades noticeably lower than the class average, can result in a much lower overall course grade, beyond the declared weight of the quizzes.
Rationale for reading quizzes: Compared to reading-based Literature courses, Creative Writing’s “workshop” organization permits little time for discussing instructional materials. Therefore students must learn on their own and be prepared for brief discussions. In addition, the final exam requires the student to review learning from the Three Genres textbook.
Poetry & Fiction Submissions + Revision Accounts
Due Dates for final submissions to instructor:
· Poetry: 28 February (within 36 hours of class meeting)
· Fiction: 17 April (within 36 hours of class meeting)
Format for submission / return:
· Electronic file (preferably Word or Word-compatible) emailed to instructor.
· Submissions will be posted by instructor to course webpage.
· Instructor will acknowledge submission by email and return submission with comments and grade by email.
Poetry submission & revision account:
· Submit one lyric poem, either free-verse or fixed-form (sonnet, ballad, villanelle, etc.). All poems must have a title.
· You may submit 1-3 additional poems, but you are not expected to, nor do you receive any automatic credit for extra effort.
· Your submission must be accompanied by a “Revision Account” concerning the development of one or more of your poems, either through class feedback or draft exchange.
· Submit one fictional scene of 5-10 double-spaced pages.
· Your fictional scene must have a title.
· This fictional scene could be a “short short story” or a scene from a longer short story, a novella, or a novel. Welcome to include a brief explanatory note following the title and setting up the context of the scene.
· In any case, the scene should have an identifiable beginning and conclusion with some kind of appropriate action or development between.
· You may submit an additional fiction scene if you wish, but you are not expected to, nor do you receive any automatic credit for extra effort.
· As with the poetry submission, the fiction submission must be accompanied by a Revision Account.
Each student will make both a poetry and a fiction submission accompanied in both cases by a “Revision Account.” These accounts will explain how the submission developed and was revised following the student’s presentation or draft exchange.
In previous semesters a standardized form for revision accounts was required, but most students didn’t follow it. Just doing the revision process was new enough!
As a result, the description of the Revision Accounts’ contents and organization is now loose and vague in order to let students cope as inclined.
Basic expectations for Revision Accounts:
Length: 1 ½ - 3 double-spaced pages
1. How did your poem or fiction piece originate? How did you come up with the idea? Did the work pre-exist the class, or did you write it this semester?
2. Whether you presented the poem in class or did a draft exchange, what kind of response did you receive and what did you learn? Welcome to quote and judge reactions. If you did a draft exchange, identify your reviewers and how you found them.
3. What kinds of changes or revisions did you make as a result of these reactions?
4. What is your opinion of the current status of your manuscript (following revision)? What are its strengths? What further development does it need? Is it part of a larger work?
5. Future developments: Possible publication? Additions or research required? What would you like to be able to accomplish for this manuscript that you can’t quite do yet?
Final Exam (Thursday, 24 April 2008, 7-9:50pm)
Format: in-class or email; open-book, open-notebook.
· If you take the exam in class, just show up with paper, pen, books, and notebooks. Start at 7pm; finish writing by 9:50pm.
· If you take the exam by email, simply sit down at your terminal with your assignment, books, and notes and write the exam during or before the final exam period. Like the in-class students, you are expected to spend no more than three hours on the exam, so please keep a log indicating when you stop and start. You are expected to email your answers to the instructor by 10pm. (Flexible time takes into account the possible interruptions when working off-campus.)
· Since you have the exam question ahead of time, you may research, draft, outline, and otherwise practice your answer ahead of time as much as you find helpful. But limit your writing time to three hours.
Final Exam Assignment: Write two essays of one to one-and-a-half hours
· Essay topic 1: Discuss and analyze one or more of our course objectives in relation to our course readings, workshop, and instruction.
· Essay topic 2: Overall description of your learning experience in LITR 3731 Creative Writing
Essay topic 1: Discuss and analyze one of our course objectives in relation to our course readings, workshop, and instruction.
· You may choose either a single objective or some combination of two or more objectives, but don’t spread yourself too thin.
· If you feel dissatisfied with the objectives and inspired to be inventive, come up with a fresh new objective of your own for the course, explaining why it might be added to the list and how it appeared (or should have appeared) in our course.
· Required texts or applications: Connect to readings in Three Genres, to course instruction, and discussions, presentations, and workshops. In other words, how did you see the objective at work in our course, and how would you explain it to someone outside our class or to a creative writing unit you might teach?
Essay topic 2: Overall description of your learning experience in LITR 3731 Creative Writing
Question / topic: Based on the Three Genres textbook and your experience in this course’s “workshop,” what have you learned about Creative Writing and about literature generally? Your essay may concern several highlights or dimensions of learning, but unify the material as much as possible. As an overall unifying theme, how has the course extended or changed your attitudes and skills in writing, reading, or teaching literature?
Required references: Make several references (i. e., at least 3) to the assigned readings in Three Genres and several references to points raised otherwise in the course, either in lecture, class discussion, visiting writers’ comments, or instructor’s and readers’ reactions to your writing submissions or drafts. In your “overall” essay you must make one reference to final exams on similar topics from previous semesters.
Those of you interested in teaching careers are welcome to include reflections and references regarding the teaching of Creative Writing. What aspects of the class seemed pedagogically effective, and what new ideas or elements would you introduce to creative writing instruction?
Throughout the exam you are welcome to refer to your developing image of yourself as a creative writer. What have you learned about your abilities, skills, and options? What have you learned about literature generally?
Overlap between the two essays? Some overlap between your topics may be inevitable. If so, no need to repeat yourself—your second essay may refer to your first essay, or your first essay may defer discussion of some elements until the second essay. Don’t let this problem hang you up—just work it out sensibly, and I’ll react without looking to punish anyone for unnecessary repetition.
Attendance policy: You are expected to attend every scheduled class meeting. You may take one free cut. More than one absence jeopardizes your status in the course. If you miss more than one class (especially early in the session), you are encouraged to drop.
Partial absences also count negatively. If you miss the first class, even if you are not enrolled at that time, that absence counts as your free cut.
Even with medical or other emergency excuses, an excessive number of absences (full or partial) results in a lower or failing grade.
More than one absence affects final grades. You are always welcome to discuss your standing in the course.
Academic Honesty Policy: Please refer to the current UHCL catalog for the Academic Honesty Policy. Plagiarism—that is, using research without citations or copying someone else’s work as your own—will result in a grade penalty or failure of the course. Refer to the UHCL catalogue for further details regarding expectations and potential penalties.
Disabilities: If you have a disability and need a special accommodation, consult first with the Health Center and then discuss the accommodation with me.
Incompletes: A grade of "I" is given only in cases of documented emergency late in the semester. An Incomplete Grade Contract must be completed.
Late submissions: Any student who submits late materials is subject to lower grades, either in individual grades or course grades.
Final Grade Report: Final grades will be submitted to the registrar according to the usual procedures. However, I will email each student a breakdown of her or his grades within 10 days after the final exam period. This message should be accurate, but it is “unofficial” in that none of its information aside from the final grade will be recorded or supported by the university registrar. The message will appear thus:
LITR 3731 2008 Creative Writing
Contact information (email & US Mail addresses, phones, etc.)
Grade for workshop activities, exchanges, etc.:
Poetry submission grade:
Fiction submission grade:
Final Exam Grade:
Presentation & assignments schedule, spring 2008
Thursday, 17 January:
Thursday, 24 January:
Reading assignment: Three Genres, ch. 1 (pp. 1-12); ch. 3 (pp. 45-56); ch. 4 (pp. 57-71); ch. 5 (pp. 72-82); ch. 6 (pp. 83-93)
Reading highlight: Tanya Stanley
1st Poetry Author: Christina Holmes
1st Author’s Discussion Leader: Lauralie Pope
Thursday, 31 January:
1st Poetry Author: Kimberly Davis
1st Author’s Discussion Leader: Alana Nesteruk
2nd Poetry Author: Susan Butaud
2nd Author’s Discussion Leader: Val Gordon
Discussion: What happens during a workshop? Improvements to presentations / discussions?
Thursday, 7 February:
Reading assignment: Three Genres, ch. 7 (pp. 94-104); ch. 8 (pp. 105-116); ch. 9 (pp. 117-127)
Reading highlight: Rachel Davis
1st Poetry Author: Miranda Allen
1st Author’s Discussion Leader: Kristin Howard
Thursday, 14 February:
Reading assignment: Three Genres, ch. 11 (pp. 138-144)
Reading highlight: Toya Carter
1st Poetry Author: Amber Buitron
1st Author’s Discussion Leader: Tanya Stanley
2nd Poetry Author: Kristin Howard
2nd Author’s Discussion Leader: Miranda Allen
Thursday, 21 February:
1st Poetry Author: Bethany Roachell
1st Author’s Discussion Leader: Rachel Barton
2nd Poetry Author: Heather Thompson
2nd Author’s Discussion Leader: Amber Buitron
24 January-28 February: The following students are required to do Draft Exchanges for their required poetry manuscripts: Rachel Barton, Ashley Bedford, Toya Carter, Rachel Davis, Val Gordon, Amanda Hanne, Bryan McDonald, Alana Nesteruk, Matthew Orr, Lauralie Pope, Mallory Rogers, Tanya Stanley
Thursday, 28 February: Final submissions for poetry + revision accounts due within 36 hours of class
Reading assignment: Three Genres, ch. 14 (pp. 167-174); ch. 15 (pp. 175-181); ch. 16 (pp. 182-188);
Reading highlight: Susan Butaud
1st Fiction Author: Toya Carter
1st fiction Author’s Discussion Leader: Amanda Hanne
2nd Fiction Author: Tanya Stanley
2nd fiction Author’s Discussion Leader: Heather Thompson
Thursday, 6 March:
Reading assignment: Three Genres, ch. 12 (pp. 145-154); ch. 13 (pp. 155-166);
Reading highlight: Amanda Hanne
1st Fiction Author: Rachel Davis
1st fiction Author’s Discussion Leader: Toya Carter
2nd Fiction Author: Lauralie Pope
2nd fiction Author’s Discussion Leader: Christina Holmes
Thursday, 13 March:
Reading assignment: Three Genres, ch. 17 (pp. 189-198); ch. 18 (pp. 199-208)
Reading highlight: Bryan McDonald
1st Fiction Author: Mallory Rogers
1st fiction Author’s Discussion Leader: Bryan McDonald
2nd Fiction Author: Bryan McDonald
2nd fiction Author’s Discussion Leader: Mallory Rogers
Thursday, 20 March: No meeting—Spring Holidays
Thursday, 27 March:
Reading assignment: Three Genres, ch. 19 (pp. 209-216); ch. 20 (pp. 217-225); ch. 21 (pp. 226-237)
Reading highlight: Alana Nesteruk
1st Fiction Author: Val Gordon
1st fiction Author’s Discussion Leader: Susan Butaud
2nd Fiction Author: Amanda Hanne
2nd fiction Author’s Discussion Leader: Rachel Davis
Thursday, 3 April:
Reading assignment: Three Genres, ch. 22 (pp. 238-246); ch. 23 (pp. 247-255); ch. 24 (pp. 256-266)
Reading highlight: Heather Thompson
1st Fiction Author: Ashley Bedford
1st fiction Author’s Discussion Leader: Matthew Orr
2nd Fiction Author: Alana Nesteruk
2nd fiction Author’s Discussion Leader: Kimberly Davis
Thursday, 10 April:
Reading assignment: Three Genres, ch. 28 (pp. 291-294);
Reading highlight: Lauralie Pope
1st Fiction Author: Rachel Barton
1st fiction Author’s Discussion Leader: Bethany Roachell
2nd Fiction Author: Matthew Orr
2nd fiction Author’s Discussion Leader: Ashley Bedford
Thursday, 17 April:
Fiction final submissions & revision accounts due within 36 hours of class
Roundtable discussion of final exams; students will describe emphases, ask questions regarding assignments.
28 February-17 April: The following students are required to do Draft Exchanges for their required fiction manuscripts: Amber Buitron, Susan Butaud, Kimberly Davis, Miranda Allen, Christina Holmes, Kristin Howard, Bethany Roachell, Heather Thompson
Thursday, 24 April: final exam period
Thursday, 1 May: Instructor office hours, final exams and grade reports returned