Thursday, August 21, 2008

English 343 Undergraduate Fiction Workshop

Professor Diana Joseph Office Hours: M 2-3; T 5-6
Interns: Tom Flynn E-hours: TH&F 9-12
Lesley Arimah Office: Armstrong Hall 201L Phone: 389-5144

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.

Required Texts and Materials
Martone, Michael. The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction. (Please make sure you have the FIRST edition.)
Money for copying expenses

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 folder. 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 the first Self-Assessment, you’ll 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

In the second Self-Assessment, you’ll justify the craft choices you made in your full length story.

3. Participation=25%
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 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.

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.

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 10%. 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—andyou 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.

Schedule of Events

Monday, 8/25 First day of class

Wednesday, 8/27 “Sarah Cole,” 53

Monday, 9/1 No class—Labor Day

Wednesday, 9/3 “White Angel,” 229

Monday, 9/8 “Woman Hollering Creek,” 219

Wednesday, 9/15 “The Man Who Knew Belle Starr,” 112

9/17-10/8 Workshop

Monday, 10/13 “Gryphon,” 131

Wednesday, 10/15 “Wild Horses,” 96

Monday, 10/20 “Fiesta, 1980,” 244

Wednesday, 10/22 “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried,” 343

Monday, 10/27 “First, Body,” 595

Monday, 10/29 “Strays,” 542

11/3-11/24 Workshop



11/26-12/3 Small Group Workshops

Finals Day—Tuesday, 12/9 10:15 SELF-ASSESSMENT #2 DUE

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.

Andrews, Aaron P

Baden, Kaitlyn E

Bloomquist, Cynthia A

Brito, Rafael

Campbell, Sam J

Carda, Kari A

Cassidy, Ryan E

DeJoy, Jeremy P

Dinsmore, Sharon M

Dukart, Katherine M

Eiden, Holly A

Guffey, Brendan R

Harder, Chris

Mielke, Peter D

Niederkorn, Ashley J

Peterson, Jeffrey A

Rezmerski, Hilary R

Seipel, Nicholas J

Swiontkowski, Jeffrey N

Tarr, Tricia N

Thompson, Tonja N


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