This course will begin with a broad overview of the two major categories that are conventionally thought to comprise creative writing: "prose" and "poetry." After establishing these formal distinctions, this course will endeavor to dismantle them, through a study of recent texts that consciously scramble our understanding of what prose and poetry do. We will engage through both reading and writing the recent literary trend towards innovative writing that consciously resists categorization into any one genre: poetry or prose; fiction or autobiography; creative, documentary, or critical writing. Instead, the texts at hand form hybrids.
Cole Swenson, a contemporary poet, applies this idea of hybridity to creative writing, saying: Hybrid writing tolerates a high degree of the restless, the indeterminate, and the uncanny because, like the best writing of any era, it doesn't seek to reinforce received ideas or social positions as much as it aims to stimulate reflection and to incite thoughts and feelings.
Applying both the notion of becoming something new and stimulating reflection and inciting thoughts and feelings, our goal in this class will be less to learn the traditions and practices of a particular genre of writing than to shed those traditions and expectations as we feel and think our way towards forms that support, match, and challenge the subject matter we have chosen. We will read novels that engage the tools of poetry, poetry that engages the tools of documentary film, and fiction that slides into nonfiction, and we will endeavor to write while employing all the tools of every genre we can think of, and more.
(Offered Fall 2015.)
Limited to first- and second-year students.