Distinguished Visiting Writer Courses
2011 - 2012 Courses
Anne Sanow, Fiction
Linking Stories, Story Cycles, Making Stories. An individual short story is a fully realized art form that can immerse the reader into the life of a character and vividly depict a particular place and time. Other short stories do more: they "talk" to related stories, creating story cycles, linked story collections, and novels-in-stories. In this course we will be reading like writers, discussing examples of linked stories to see what makes them tick.
Wendy Call, Creative Non-fiction
Literary Nonfiction: Legend and Lyric in Linn County. To begin, we will learn the basics of “immersion reporting” as we delve deeply into the places, people and parables of Linn County. We’ll borrow tools from the world of journalism to gather our stories, but we will work in the world of lyric nonfiction to tell those stories. Once we’re satisfied with the legend and lyric we have created on the page, we’ll recast our work as oral stories (presented at a reading), digital stories (published on the web with images and sound) and/or recorded audio essays (for podcast or radio distribution).
2010 - 2011 Courses
Angie Estes, Poetry
The Language of Beauty: Poetry and the Visual Arts. Since Homer first tried to describe Achilles’ shield in the Iliad, poets have sought to capture art via the written word. This process is called “ekphrasis”: the verbal or linguistic expression of visual forms. The ekphrastic poem expresses a new experience of the visual work of art so that the painting or sculpture, the photograph or building, comes to life by means of the poem’s meditation on and presentation of it. Our course will be part creative writing workshop and part literature seminar, and our aim will be to produce our own poetry—ekphrastic poems—in response to works of visual art.
Gary Gilson, Journalism
Journalism From the Bottom Up. Most reporting depends upon official sources, who are too often self-serving. Rather than learning about reality from so-called representatives of the citizenry, students will immerse themselves in reporting and writing about the daily lives of unemployed and underemployed people in the local economy. Basics of reporting, writing and ethics will be part of the fabric of the course.
2009 - 2010 Courses
Sarah Prineas, Fiction
The Protagonist Must Protag: The Intersection of Plot and Character in Children's Literature. The most memorable characters in children's literature, from Laura Ingalls to Max the King of the Wild Things to Bilbo Baggins, have been protagonists who protag; that is, they are characters who act to achieve their goals, thereby generating plot. We will read selections from children's literature and develop an understanding of what protagonists do and who they are. We will also discuss the particular importance of "protagging" in children's literature. In turn, we will use this knowledge in our own writing projects.
Michael Martone, Creative Non-fiction
Reading and Writing the Rural. First, you will learn much about contemporary rural life and agricultural practices. The landscape that we will study though real is often a hidden one from our predominantly urban and suburban point of view. Second, you will read a variety of writing in prose about the farm and rural life, all of it written within the last forty years. Third, we will examine through your writing and the recorded reactions of our authors, the sweeping changes in the rural landscape and in farming over the last half-century, and at the same time take measure of our held beliefs and images of agriculture and how they differ from the portraits created by the authors and our own newly formed opinions.
2008 - 2009 Courses
Ross Gay, Poetry
Representing Bodies. In this course, we will examine the political and ethical ramifications of representing bodies (our own included), particularly bodies in pain (though also bodies in love and bodies at rest), in poetry. As such, the course will be framed with a few theoretical texts—excerpts from Elaine Scarry's "The Body in Pain," Susan Sontag's "Regarding the Pain of Others," and Sadiya Hartman's "Scenes of Subjection"—in addition to the work of several poets. We will be writing and workshopping poems composed in the midst of, and in conversation with, the ideas generated by these texts and our discussions of them.
Mike Conklin, Feature Writing
Advanced Topic in Creative or Media Writing. In this course, you will learn the craft of feature writing, which, unlike straight news reporting, allows the author more creativity to tell stories. Feature writing starts with, first and foremost, finding and having good ideas; it depends on fundamentals that turn these ideas into articles appealing to audiences. Through listening, reading, research, reporting, and, of course, writing, you will be encouraged to stretch your thinking.