Thursday, August 30, 2007

643 Prompts

Prompt #4

For Thursday, August 30

Write 1,000 words about this:

People often see complex personalities in their pets -- well beyond clich├ęs like the loyal dog. Graft your pet's personality onto a human character.

Writing a Craft Analysis

To analyze a story for craft means paying attention to how the story is told, how its form reinforces its content. If writing is a series of choices, then what are the effects of these particular choices? If there’s an infinite number of ways to say something, then why is the writer saying it in this particular way? Why use first person instead of third person limited? What’s the effect of present tense over past? What are the story’s significant images and how do they create meaning?

A successful analysis will isolate a particular craft of craft – point of view, for example, or imagery, setting, tone, characterization, etc. – then discuss how it works to create unity, a singular effect, a vivid and continuous dream.

To write a craft anaylsis:

1. TYPE the passage that best illustrates the term you plan to discuss.

2. DEFINE the craft term you plan to discuss. If you say you’re talking about style, what specifically do you mean? If you say your analysis will cover a concept like theme (OR extended metaphor OR pacing OR the writer’s use of time), make sure you’ve first explained how, exactly, you understand that concept.

3. Make CLAIMS about the text: For example: Russell Bank’s use of third person in “Sarah Cole” operates as a way for the first person narrator to distance himself from events he’s ashamed of OR the short choppy sentences and emphasis on sensory detail in climactic moment of Michael Cunningham’s story “White Angel” heightens the dramatic tension and keeps the moment from lapsing into melodrama.

4. PROVIDE QUOTES from the passage that ILLUSTRATE/SHOW what you’re talking about.


5. EXPLAIN how and why the quotes you’ve selected illustrate your claims.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

English 643 Prompt #3

For Wednesday, August 27, 2007

Write 1,000 words based on this one word prompt:

Monster

I saw a series of short scenes by five playwrights who only had this one word theme. The results were varied and surprising.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

English 643 Writers

For Tuesday, August 28

Prompt #2

Base a 1,000 words around this randomly selected Neruda line:

"Still it would be marvelous to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily"

(Don't try to find the poem to get a context for it, create the context.)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

English 643 Writers

Prompt #1

Write 1,000 words in response to this:

What's the best lie you've ever heard? Alternative - have your characters lie to each other.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

English 643/Graduate Fiction Workshop

Professor Diana Joseph Office Hours: M&W 10-12; TH 10-11
English 643 E-Hours: T&F 9-12
Email: diana.joseph@mnsu.edu Office: Armstrong 201L
dianajosephsyllabi.blogspot.com Phone: 389-5144

Graduate Fiction Workshop
This workshop will operate differently from the traditional model. It does not focus on story as final product; you do not bring in a "finished" draft to find out whether or not it "works." Instead, this course uses the discussion of short, "unfinished" anecdotal pieces to explore a story's possibilities.

The class stresses close, careful reading and intensive writing. You'll write a thousand words a day, five days a week for fifteen weeks. Topics for writing will come out of prompts; each writer will be responsible for providing a week's worth of prompts. Every few weeks, we'll assemble a packet of these exercises. You should turn in the prompt you find most dynamic or intriguing, the one you're most excited about pushing further. We'll discuss your thousand word piece with an emphasis on craft, but also with the intention of locating the material's potential. Questions for discussion may include What is this piece's emotional center? What seems to be at stake? What are the metaphors? The conflicts? Based on what's here, who is the narrator?

More about My Workshop Philosophy
When we discuss a story, there won’t be talk about what we “like” or “don’t like.” There won’t be talk about what’s “good” or “bad”; there won’t be any value judgments. (This kind of feedback is hugely subjective and frequently confusing—like when six people love it, six people hate it, and one needs more time to think things over.) There won’t be advice on how to “fix” your story. (It’s your story, which means it’s your vision/version of the world, which means you should be the only one who can fix it.) There won’t be suggestions about what you “could” or “might” do. (I’m not interested in talking about writing that hasn’t been written.)

I am interested in what your story is about – the questions it raises, its themes, your artistic vision – and I’m interested in how your story is told, how its form reinforces its content. If writing is a series of choices, then what are the effects of these particular choices? If there’s an infinite number of ways to say something, then why are you saying it in this particular way? Why use first person instead of third person limited? What’s the effect of present tense over past? What are the story’s significant images and how do they create meaning? This workshop centers on describing and interpreting your use of the elements of fiction—and describing how each works with the rest to create unity, a singular effect, a vivid and continuous dream.

Class Materials
This is no required text for this class.
$ for photocopying/printing costs


Assignments
Participation=100%
This class depends entirely on your participation.

I define participation as your active engagement with the class, demonstrated through evidence of preparedness, and thoughtful contributions to discussions and workshops. I will also assess your participation by your completion of the following:
1. You’ll write 1,000 words a day, five days a week for 15 weeks. The writing will be in response to an assigned prompt. Don’t be surprised if I occasionally ask you to email me a file containing your prompts. I don’t want to police people, but I do want to provide an incentive to stay on track.
2. You’ll provide 5 writing prompts for the class. You’ll email your prompts to me by 5:00pm the Sunday of your week, and I will email them to the class.
3. Each of you will offer an assessment of your peers’ workshop responses; I will take this into consideration when determining participation grades.

Class Policies
Do the work; contribute in a thoughtful way to class discussions, but don’t monopolize. If you suspect you’re talking too much, you probably are. Missing more than one class results in dropping a full letter grade; if you’re not here, you can’t participate. Show up on time. No handwritten work will be accepted. All coursework must be completed to pass this class. Late work will not be accepted. Assignments are tentative and subject to change.





Your Name_________________________________________________________English 643

On a scale of 1-10, rate the time/effort you estimate each student put into your workshop critique. Use the back of this sheet for further comments, if necessary.


1. Arimah, Lesley

2. Benjamin, Jessica

3. Clisbee, David

4. Daly, Luke

5. Davis, Andrew

6. Dunnan, J. W.

7. Flynn, Thomas

8. Gatewood, Carrie

9. Grant, Richanda

10. Irmen, Ami

11. Johnson, Joshua

12. Langdon, Sarah

13. Slotemaker, Michael

14. Starkey, Danielle

15. Weerts, Matthew

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

English 343 Undergraduate Fiction Workshop

Professor Diana Joseph Office Hours: M&W 10-12; TH 10-11
Interns: Jon Surdo E-hours: T&F 9-12
Bryan Johnson Office: Armstrong Hall 201L
Nathan Melcher Phone: 389-5144
Email: diana.joseph@mnsu.edu Online: dianajosephsyllabi.blogspot.com

English 343: Fiction Workshop
This is an introductory-level fiction workshop. Through close reading of literary short fiction, we will study elements of craft. Through a variety of writing exercises and prompts, we will practice our craft.

Assignments
1. Story Journal=25%
You will regularly receive writing exercises and prompts. You’ll begin many of these in class while some will be assigned for outside of class. These exercises must be typed and double-spaced and placed in a 3-ringed binder. Keep track of your work—when I collect your story journal, I’ll check for all exercises and prompts assigned throughout the semester. I’ll assess according to the strength of the work; evidence of your effort; and originality.

The full length story you’ll workshop toward the end of the semester will come from the entries in your story journal. In the meantime, we’ll workshop individual exercises as a way to jumpstart your writing process, generate ideas, and help you develop a full length story.

2. Two Self-Assessment Essays, each=25%
I don’t grade creative work; I do grade your ability to explain what you’ve come to understand about craft. Twice during the semester – once around mid-terms, and once by Finals Day – you will turn in a reflective narrative essay. In it, you’ll need to describe:
a. what you’ve learned about crafting fiction from the assigned readings
b. what you’ve learned about crafting fiction from the workshops
c. what participating in workshops – both as a reader and as a writer – has taught you about writing
d. any other aspects of the course that have guided or enhanced your understanding of fiction

3. Participation
I define participation as your active engagement with the class, demonstrated through evidence of preparedness, and thoughtful contributions to discussions and workshops. Each of you will offer an assessment of your peers’ workshop responses; I will take this into consideration when determining participation grades.

Workshop Philosophy
We’ll workshop your exercises, with an interest in what your piece is about, and in how it’s told, and how its form reinforces its content. If writing is a series of choices, then what are the effects of these particular choices? If there’s an infinite number of ways to say something, then why are you saying it in this particular way? Why use first person instead of third person limited? What’s the effect of present tense over past? What are the story’s significant images and how do they create meaning? This workshop centers around describing (and interpreting) your use of the elements of fiction—and describing how each works with the rest to create unity, a singular effect, a vivid and continuous dream.

As a workshop participant, you must read the drafts up for workshop. You’re expected to write feedback, positive and critical, on the manuscript(s), and you should have suggestions in mind for class discussion. Expect to be called on.

Workshops are a give-and-take experience. If someone fails to provide evidence of reading and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your draft, then you’re not obligated to give that individual much feedback, either. But if someone gives a reading that shows time, effort, and thought – whether or not you agree with the comments – then you owe that person equal consideration. Workshops are about giving what you get.

Finally, workshops are not about egos – fragile, super, or otherwise. Workshops are not about being defensive, nor are they about hurling insults. Workshops are about the text, locating its strengths and weaknesses, and finding ways to make it stronger. Be critical, but be constructive.

Class Policies
Each absence over 3 will lower your final grade by 5%. I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absence.
Participation is 25% of your final grade; if you’re not here, you can’t participate. If you fail to turn in workshop material on the day it’s due, you lose your workshop spot—and participation credit. If you don’t come to class on the day of your workshop, it won’t be rescheduled—and you lose participation credit. Frequent tardiness will affect your participation grade.
All coursework must be completed to pass this class.
Writing done for this class is considered public text.
Assignments are tentative and subject to change.
Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated; it may result in failure of the class.
I’m available for help outside class during my office hours or by appointment.


Due Dates
8/29 “Sarah Cole,” 53

9/5 “White Angel,” 229

9/10 “The Way We Live Now,” 569

9/12 Prompts Packet Entry Due

9/17-10/8 Workshop

10/10 “Strays,” 542

10/15 “Emergency,” 351

10/17 “The Year of Getting to Know Us,” 193

10/22 Self Assessment Part I Due

10/24 Prompts Packet Entry Due

10/29-11/19 Workshop

11/21 Full Length Stories Due

11/26 Story Journals Due

11/26-12/5 Small Group Workshops

Finals Day Self-Assessment Part II due


Your Name___________________________________________________________________English 343

On a scale of 1-10, rate the time/effort you estimate each student put into your workshop critique. Use the back of this sheet for further comments, if necessary.

1. Armstrong, Mikel

2. Biers, Kelly

3. Brun, Lucas

4. Detloff, Megan

5. Engler, Aaron

6. Erickson, Justin

7. Hickey, Janel

8. Hoffmann, Charlotte

9. Jenkins, Jason

10. Johnson, Adria

11. Losasso, Angela

12. Martin, Tim

13. Miller, Amy

14. Moeller, Heather

15. Mustapha, Adebayo

16. Natale, Richard

17. Nerison, Bobbie

18. Schmitt, Daniel

19. Urlacher, Emily

20. Voelker, Marcy

21. Wagner, Sarah

22. Wayne, Tiffany

23. Wilberding, Tamara

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Good Thunder Calendar

Good Thunder roster for 2007-2008 is announced
Visiting authors
2007-08-16
Published in The Free Press, Mankato, MN, 8/16/2007
Rick Robbins, director of the Good Thunder Reading Series, has announced the 2007-08 line­up of visiting authors to Minnesota State University.

Here’s a look at the sched­ule.

Sept. 13 — Beth Ann Fennelly, poetry.

Oct. 11 — MSU alumni reading with Robert David Clark, fiction, Gwen Hart, poetry, and Thomas Maltman, fiction.

Nov. 1 — Robert Wright Minnesota Writer Residency featuring Luke Rolfes (fiction), winner of the Robert Wright Award, and Marie Myung-Ok Lee, fic­tion/ young-adult fiction.

Nov. 29 — Deborah Keenan, poetry.

Feb. 7 — James Armstrong, poetry.

Feb. 28 — MSU faculty reading with Candace Black, poetry/creative nonfiction, Robbins, poetry, and Roger Sheffer, fiction.

March 25-28 — Eddice B. Barber Visiting Writer Residency featuring Tom Franklin, fic­tion.

April 17 — Leigh Allison Wilson, fiction.

Fall 2007 GRADUATE Form and Technique/English 640

Professor Diana Joseph Office Hours: M&W 10-12; TH 10-11
English 640 E-Hours: T&F 9-12
Email: diana.joseph@mnsu.edu Office: Armstrong 201L
dianajosephsyllabi.blogspot.com Phone: 389-5144

Form and Technique in Prose
This course examines the technical underpinnings of fiction and nonfiction genres. Through lectures, readings, class discussions, imitation exercises, and workshops, we will study the relationship between form and content. Specifically, we’ll pay attention to issues of craft including point of view, characterization, setting/place, tone, style, imagery, structure, plot and theme.

Required Texts
Almond, Steve, Candy Freak.
Anderson, Laurie Halse, Speak.
Davis, Amanda, Wonder When You’ll Miss Me
Haddon, Mark, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.
Kundera, Milan, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.
Martone, Michael, ed., The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction.
Satrapi, Marjane, Persepolis.
Sedaris, David, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.


Assignments
1. Craft Analysis=25%
Over the semester, you’ll write six craft analyses; which six texts you write about is up to you.

This assignment requires close analysis of how a text is crafted, but the technique studied is up to you. You might want to examine the release of information in a story’s opening paragraph; how a character is created through action or dialogue; how to write a long passage of indirect dialogue; why a writer might opt to write unquoted dialogue; how to establish setting through sound; or through weather; or through geology. You might want to examine how a writer locates a story in time by using a clock; or a calendar; or the seasons; or how a writer manages quick shifts in time; or uses white space. Point of view, establishing psychic distance, creating a voice, moving into or out of a dramatic moment: each requires the writer understand his or her craft.

For each book or story we read, 1.) Decide what technique you want to examine more closely. 2.) Type a specific passage from the text that shows that specific technique in motion. This passage can be as short as a single paragraph or as long as several paragraphs. 3.) Write a short (no longer than ONE single-spaced page) analysis of what the writer achieved and how he/she achieved it.

Bring 2 copies of your passage/analysis to class (one for me, and one to put on the document camera) for an informal presentation.
2. Imitations=25%
Over the semester, you’ll write 6 imitations; which six texts you imitate is up to you.

1.) Type a short passage from the text—be sure to choose a passage that intrigues you, that you think you can learn something from; 2.) write a close imitation of that passage, paying close attention to the author’s voice, tone, style, level of diction, sentence length and sentence structure, but inserting your own content. Bring 2 copies to class (one for me, and one to put on the document camera) for an informal mini-workshop.

NOTE: There are 13 class days; you have 12 assignments. You will turn in either an analysis OR an imitation (not both—which assignment you do on a particular day is up to you) every class day but one. You chose your “free” day.

3. Participation=25%
Participation in not merely showing up for class—that’s called attendance. I define participation as your active engagement with the class demonstrated through thoughtful contributions to class discussion, evidence of preparedness, and helpful feedback during workshops.

4. Form project=25%
What are all the forms a piece of writing can take? There are books and magazines, of course, and broadsides and chapbooks, but there are also take-out menus and checkbook ledgers, classified ads and vanity license plates. Your assignment is to experiment with form, by creating a text whose form reinforces its content in artistic and interesting ways. My only limitation is the text itself must be something I can hold in my hand. Make a copy for each member of our class.

Class Policies
Do the work; volunteer for presentations. Missing more than one class results in dropping a full letter grade. Show up on time. If you’re not here, you can’t participate. No handwritten work will be accepted. All coursework must be completed to pass this class. Late work will not be accepted. Assignments are tentative and subject to change.














Schedule of Events

August 30 Banks, p. 53

September 6 Wonder When You’ll Miss Me

September 13 Speak

September 20 Sontag, p. 569 and Thon, p. 595

September 27 Dress Your Family

October 4 Cunningham, p. 229 and Ford, p. 288

October 11 Candy Freak

October 18 Proulx, p. 521

October 25 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

November 1 Braverman, p. 167 and Hansen, p. 338

November 8 The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

November 15 Baxter, p. 131 and Walker, p. 624

November 22—THANKSGIVING BREAK

November 29 Persepolis

December 6 Diaz, p. 244 and Dybek, p. 256