This course is an introduction to creative writing, focusing on literature with a strong element of place. Students will closely examine poems, short stories, and essays in which evocative settings are rendered with precision, originality, and effect. How do writers, across genres, bring static landscapes to life? How can we make backdrop as vivid and legible as character? We will explore these questions as we read select literary works, gleaning descriptive techniques as well as basic methods of writing dialogue, plot, and verse. This course has a workshop component and requires that students draw from the foreign scenes they encounter at each port of call.
Field ClassCountry: India
Day: 1 - Friday, 06 March
Marketplaces—whether tidy or chaotic, dusty or gleaming—are prime portholes into foreign cultures. At the market place, the writer can play anthropologist, observing the convergence of peoples and rituals of interaction. But the writer’s main challenge is to describe. In all three genres this course encompasses—fiction, nonfiction and poetry— specific, sensory detail is the essence. For this reason, our field lab activities put a strong emphasis on note-taking: how to bring keen and constant attention to the many dimensions of a crowded scene. Writers will spend the day navigating the antique markets and spice markets in Cochin. Each writer’s primary task is lend close attention to external stimuli, observing not only the array of detail in the marketplace, but the sensations and stirrings in themselves, as this, too, is story material. Partway through their observational journeys, each student will pause and evaluate their gathered material to identify themes and further focus their reportage for the remainder of the field lab excursion. Academic Objectives: 1. Students will learn best practices as note-takers and strengthen their observational powers. 2. Students will challenge their notions of specificity, pushing all descriptions further in the direction of the specific. 3. Students will practice honing their focus and identifying themes and potential narrative pathways. 4. Students will write with immediacy, using their detail in three different genres: poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.