Wednesday, January 7, 2009

English 340 Form and Technique

Professor Diana Joseph

Interns: Alex Phillips

Lesley Arimah

Office: AH 201 L, extension 5144

Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday 12-2; Wednesday 2-3; or by appointment

Online: Monday & Friday 10-12


English 340: Form and Technique in Prose

This course studies the technical underpinnings of prose genres. Through lectures, readings, class

discussions, exercises in imitation, and large and small group workshops, we will examine the

relationship between form and content. Specifically, we will pay close attention to technical matters

including point of view, characterization, setting/place, tone, style, imagery, structure, and theme.

Required Texts and Materials

The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction, ed. Martone

$ for copying expenses

$ for printing expenses—you must print the outside readings and bring a copy to class


1. Imitation Notebook=25%

For each piece we read, I’ll give you an imitation exercise. You’ll begin it in class and complete it on

Your own time. These exercises must be typed and double-spaced. You will have at least 3 opportunities

to workshop one of these exercises in a small group. Toward the end of the semester you’ll develop your

one of your exercises into a full-length imitation of the original text. We’ll workshop these in a large

group. You’ll turn in your story, all drafts and revisions, along with a reflective preface on Finals Day.

2. Craft Analysis=25%

Select a story from any edition of Best American Short Stories between 1994—2007 OR an essay from

any edition of Best American Essays 1994—2007. The piece you pick should be one you love. Make a

copy that you’ll turn in to you with your essay.

If you’re writing about a short story:

In your craft analysis, define, then discuss and analyze ONE of the following elements of fiction as it

relates to the story you selected. Support and illustrate claims with specific examples from the text;

explain how and why the examples support your claim.

Point of view








If you’re writing about an essay:

In your craft analysis, define, then discuss and analyze ONE of the following elements of nonfiction as it

relates to the essay you selected. Support and illustrate claims with specific examples from the text;

explain how and why the examples support your claim.

Voice and/or the role of the “I” in the narrative

Characterization and/or the writer’s responsibility to subjects




Research, Reporting, and/or “Immersion” in the subject

Thematic development

3. Participation=25%

Participation is 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. Because this class relies so heavily on

participation, you can’t sit silently and expect to do well (that’s called intellectual freeloading.) But I also

don’t want one voice to dominate class discussions. Expect to listen as much as you talk. I don’t want to

give reading quizzes so do the readings. Finally, each of you will offer an assessment of your peers

workshop responses; I will take this into consideration when determining participation grades.

4. Self-Assessment=25%

I don’t grade creative work; I grade your ability to explain what you’ve come to understand about

craft. In your Self-Assessment, you’ll describe and justify the craft choices you made for your full-length

story or essay.

Class Policies

Each absence over 3 will lower your final grade by 5%. I do not distinguish between excused and

unexcused absence. 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.

English 340 Schedule of Events

Tuesday, January 13 Orlean, “The American Man at Age Ten”

Thursday, January 15 Joseph, “The Devil I Know is the Man Upstairs”

Tuesday, January 20 O’brien, “The Things They Carried,” 501

Thursday, January 22 Kincaid, “Girl,” 398

Tuesday, January 27 Williams, “Taking Care,” 659

Thursday, January 29—February 5 Small Groups

Tuesday, February 10 Sedaris, “Ashes”

Thursday, February 12 Toure, “What’s Inside You, Brother?”

Tuesday, February 17 Braverman, “Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta,” 167

Thursday, February 19 Richard, “Strays,” 542

Tuesday, February 24 Alexie, “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona,” 21

Thursday, February 26—March 5 Small Groups

March 10/March 12—Spring Break

Tuesday, March 17 Klosterman, “Bill Sim”

Thursday, March 19 Baxter, “Gryphon,” 131

Tuesday, March 24 Johnson, “Emergency,” 351

Thursday, March 26 Beard, “The Fourth State of Matter”

Tuesday, March 31—April 30 Large Group Workshop

Final Exam: Tuesday, May 5 12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.


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