2014-2015 Course Descriptions
emersonWRITES offers creative writing courses in 4 different genres. Courses are designed and taught by MFA graduate students at Emerson College who are trained in teaching. In emersonWRITES courses, students will exercise their creative voices and work to become versatile writers. The skills they learn at emersonWRITES translate to high school courses and beyond—to the college classroom.
Faculty: Marcy Braidman and Sarah Sassone
Some books take hundreds of pages to tell a story—can you tell yours in just five? Edgar Allan Poe once wrote that a person should be able to read a short story in one sitting. What if you were able to read three or four short-short stories in one sitting? Welcome to flash fiction!
Like Poe’s classics, flash fiction holds all the elements of a short story: fleshed-out characters, significant conflicts, and intense attention to implication, and will help you fine-tune your writing so that each word counts. You’ll find that working the details on short-short works will improve your writing in other genres, too. Learn to bring your characters and story to life in 1,000 words or less!
Who writes short-shorts? We write short-shorts!
Genre Fiction: Elves, Detectives, and Ghosts, Oh My!
Faculty: Jamie Burke and Miriam "Mimi" Cooke
Our will class focus on four different genres of writing—detective fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror—to redefine the term "literary fiction" and discover what it means to make a good story. Through this course, we'll read stories by authors from Edgar Allen Poe and Conan Doyle to Margaret Atwood and JK Rowling, taking inspiration from their techniques and applying them to our own writing. You’ll learn how to write engaging, plot-driven stories, filled with compelling characters, dialogue, and details. Class discussion, workshops, and group exercises will foster a creative community, and create a space for everyone to hone their story-telling skills to become a stronger writer.
By the end of the course, you’ll have a sample of writing to be included in the emersonWRITES anthology, and you'll discover opportunities to submit your work for publication in print or online journals. The skills we'll practice will also apply to the writing you are asked to do in high school, college, and beyond. Finally, we’ll present our writing at the student showcase, and invite everyone to join us in worlds fantastic, fabulous, frightening, and beyond.
Poetry: Being a Linebreaker
Faculty: Johnette Ellis and Jordan Pailthorpe
Is poetry a noun or a verb? Is it designed for the page or just meant to be heard? Does it need to rhyme or be measured? What do you do when a poem breaks through? When to signal a stop? Where to find its spark? Is it the way the line breaks or the way the line starts?
A Linebreaker embodies the playful, punk-rock street spirit of writing in order to address what poetry is and can be for this generation of writers. By including new approaches to writing poetry, this course will bend the “rules” of writing to create innovative ways to conceptualize what poetry can be. Taking a cue from poets like Kenneth Goldsmith and Majorie Perloff, we will frame, cite, and recycle already existing phrases, sentences, and everyday language to create new innovative work. We will learn from contemporary poets, such as Tracy K. Smith, Suheir Hammad, and many others in order to channel their energy into our writing, exploring the power, beauty, and possibility of our own voices.
Since this course will have an underlying goal of writing with others, we will practice learning and writing collaboratively. We will read each other’s work generously and critically in a workshop setting to grow our skills in the art of writing and discussing poetry. By the end of this course you will have a unique collection of poems ready for publication, a portfolio consisting of collaboratively created projects that extend outside the classroom, and a true sense of partnership with your peers. You will have the opportunity to perform your work and be included in a class anthology.
Nonfiction: Telling My Story, My Way
Faculty: Kayleigh Shoen and Jennifer Keogh
Telling one’s own story is the most basic form of non-fiction, and one of the most complex. In this course, you will explore your own personal experiences and family histories. We will experiment with the elements of story-telling and genre to find new ways of expressing ourselves and coming to terms with the world around us. Along the way we will look at graphic memoir, recipe-memoir, poetry, flash non-fiction, and other exercises. The course will culminate in a personal essay that can be used for college applications or a creative submission and will be revised for the program anthology.