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: Online:

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.

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


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