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Creative Writing 05 Abstract Colours

Spring 2020

CRW 210 Bilingual Fiction Writing: Novella- Juana Moriel- Payne

Latin American Novella of the Boom and Post-Boom

In Latin America, the universal literary genre of the novella has had a unique development. It has had a lively progress, from the Iberian tradition to the early 19th Century, and again, from the mid 20th Century to the early 21st Century. Readings will include pre-boom ovellas of José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardí and Alejo Carpentier, boom novellas of Álvaro Mutis, Gabriel García Márquez, G. Cabrera Infante, Julio Cortázar, and post-boom novellas of Ana Lydia Vega, Roberto Bolaño, and Laura Restrepo. Students will analyze these in order to understand how Latin American writers transformed this universal-literary genre according to their own realities.  At the same time, students will analyze the genre’s form and structure. Students will write their own novellas using mechanisms of the short story and the vovel: a technique that combines intensity and expansion, elements that show contrary forces, and create a specific-unique rhythm, as Judith Leibowitz says in Purpose in the Novella.

  • Joaquín Fernández de Lizardí, The Itching Parrot/El periquillo sarniento
  • Alejo Carpentier, The Road to Santiago/El camino de Santiago
  • Álvaro Mutis, The Snow of the Admiral/La nieve del admiral
  • Gabriel Garía Márquez, The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother/ La increíble y triste historia de la candida Eréndira y de su abuela desalmada.
  • G. Cabrera Infante, I Heard Her Sing/ La escuché cantar
  • Julio Cortázar, The Pursuer/ El perseguidor
  • Ana Lydia Vega, Miss Florence’s Trunk/El baúl de Miss Florence
  • Roberto Bolaño, Distant Star-Estrella distante
  • Laura Restrepo, The Scent of Invisible Roses/Olor a rosas invisibles

Students can read and write in either English or Spanish.

CRW 233: Creative Non-fiction Writing- JoAnna Novak

"Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly," writes MFK Fisher. And sharing writing about food is equally intimate, conjuring sensations and memories, evoking experience and heritage. In this course, we'll read and write about all things gustatory, guided by the works of writers such as Elizabeth David, Richard Olney, Gabrielle Hamilton, Adrian Miller, Holly Hughes, Anthony Bourdain, and more. Creative non-fiction offers students the opportunity to explore several platforms for expression that may include memoir, essays, and articles. Students draw on public and private events to create stories, offer informed commentary, satire, and comedy. The course will culminate in a portfolio of short-form non-fiction.

CRW 240: Fiction Writing II- JoAnna Novak

Weird. Unnerving. Strange. Disarming. How does horror reflect the real and how does the real depict horror? In this course, we'll read texts that straddle fictive modes (realism, horror) to take the reader on gripping, unforgettable journeys. Course texts will include short fiction and novels by writers such as Brian Evenson, Chris Dennis, Mariana Enriquez, Alma Katsu, Melanie Golding, Dan Bevacqua, Amanda Goldblatt, and Samanta Schweblin. Through both reading and writing, this class considers point of view, pacing, tone, structure, and setting. The course will culminate in a portfolio of short stories.  

CRW 246 Poetics – Johnny Payne

This course will ground you in conventional poetics and the Western tradition in poetry dating back to the 15th century up to the modern. We’ll look at rhyme schemes and types, meter, and verse form including such prosodic elements as enjambment, assonance, consonance, and other aspects that contribute to a well-made poem. This approach is meant to complement free-form and experimental approaches. We will focus on the sonnet, ode, ballad, sestina, villanelle and elegy as forms. Though you will write multiple poems, this is not merely a workshop. Rather, you will be assigned intensive reading in theory and poems, as well as practice in creative exercises that allow you to understand and emulate these challenging forms, in the hope that they will shape your sense of poetics and of the great and varied history of Western poetry that has endured alongside more recent developments in the genre.

Paul Fussell, Poetic Meter and Poetic Form
Robert Hass, A Little Book of Form
Mark Strand and Eavan Boland, The Making of a Poem
Willis Barnstone, Six Masters of the Spanish Sonnet

Summer 2020

CRW 217 Bilingual Non-Fiction: Crónica – Juana Moriel-Payne 
Latin American Chronicle and Travel Writing

Since its beginning after the European and (Latin) American encounter, to the Twentieth Century, Latin American Chronicle has observed the complex reality of urban spaces. It has included journalistic and literary elements, with a narrator/observer that is emotionally involved in his/her socio-historical narratives, perceptions that makes the genre a subjective one. In this sense, chroniclers are enunciator-narrators who take a significant distance from journalism to transgress the official-social representations by exposing social tensions and conflicts.

In this course, before/during Peru visit writers will:

  • Examine videos about the Conquest of Mexico and Peru, texts of Colonial-Era chroniclers, and theories and historical approaches about race/resistance in Latin America.
  • Analyze Travel Chronicle as literary genre.
  • Write 4 original Travel Chronicles (1000-words each) – one about physical space, one about an event, one about nature, and one about people– integrating aspects of the Travel Chronicle and Latin American chroniclers.

After Peru visit writers will:

  • Examine the works of 19th, 20th & 21st Centuries’ Latin American chroniclers in Literary and Historical context.
  • Write 4 original Chronicles (1000-words each/ double space) – one inspired by 1930’s chronicles, one inspired by chronicler Carlos Monsivaís, and two inspired by contemporary Latin American chroniclers. 

CRW 240 Latin American Short Story and Poetry (Peru Study Abroad Program)

This course will introduce you to major writers of Latin America in two genres in the 20th century. Writers famous internationally, such as poets Borges, Neruda, Mistral, and Vallejo, are accompanied by writers influential within Latin America: Zaid, Cisneros, Hahn, and some just as talented yet lesser known, e.g. Morejón and Pizarnik. In fiction, the extraordinary explosion of short fiction writers—Lugones, Quiroga, Hernández, Carpentier, Rulfo, Cortázar, Vargas Llosa, Lispector, and numerous others—gives evidence of an equally fertile century for narrators. The focus will be mainly on reading this literature and writing your own short stories and poetry, as we also put these modernist writings into their cultural and historical context to make sense of what Eduardo Galeano calls “The Century of the Wind.”  

Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology, ed. Stephen Tapscott
The Oxford Book of Latin American Short Stories, ed. Roberto González Echeverría.

CRW 248: Photography and Narrative – Juana Moriel-Payne

In this class, we will take pictures out of the drawer, out of historical archives, or out of magazines and other repositories in order to “read” them as scenes and sites of memory: geographic, cultural, historical, or personal places that can enrich our writing. We will Look at photography as narratives of racial/ethnic identity, gender, sexuality, representation, difference, commemoration, testimony, and much more. The course will have at least 3 online-sources to look & “read” photographies to create a writing project (poetry, prose, flash fiction, short story, memoir). We will read poetry and narrative books, and the course will have one-main Book: Phototextualities: Intersections of Photography and Narrative, Alex Hughes & Andrea Noble, eds., a collection of essays whose authors “refuse to allow photo-images to sit silently on a page.”

Poetry & Photography Books:

  • Calendar of Dust, Benjamin A. Saenz.
  • Ford Over, John Pluecker. 
  • Fault Lines: A Collection of Contemporary Poetry and Photography, Clarissa Sofía.

Narrative & Photography Books:

  • Telling Tales: Contemporary Narrative Photography, Rene Paul Barrlleaux & William Chiego, eds.
  • Family Frames: Photography, Narrative, and Post-memory, Marianne Hirsch.
  • Unfinished Stories: The Narrative Photography of Hansel Mieth and Marion Palif, Janet Zandy.
  • An On-Line Archival Source: UCLA Library- Special Collections. “Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive: Los Angeles Holiday. Photographs.

CRW 299C Publishing Seminar – Thomas Cook

What is a novel? What aesthetic and social movements shape the publishing landscape? This seminar exposes students to the theories and practices that drive commercial and academic publishing across selected genres and markets. The course culminates in a hands-on editing and publishing project directed by students. 

Fall 2020

CRW 216 Latinx & Latin America Memoir – Juana Moriel-Payne

In this course, we will analyze the autobiographies/memoirs of Latin American and Latina authors from the last decade of the 20th as we write our own memoirs.

Through the Latin American memoirs of Reinaldo Arenas and Gioconda Belli, we will explore how they used the memoir to reflect and expose time of transformations and contradictions among the Latin American cultural & literary world. With Lila Quintero and Gloria Anzaldua, we will see memoirs that explore themes as immigration, assimilation, bilingualism, among others, in the United States. Those and more some more readings will open us a door to explore and write about our unique experience in Spanish, English, or both.

*Bilingual: the course welcomes students who manage the two languages from 10% to 100%, students able to participate to the best of their ability in bilingual discussions and workshops, able to read with diligence peers’ manuscripts written in Spanish, and willing to attempt to read half of the assigned books in Spanish (English-version is available in all cases). This is a creative writing course that looks at Spanish beyond grammar. Its aim is not to limit the writing process-experience but to encourage it without boundaries.


Online-Library Free-Code Access/Selected chapters:

  • The Cambridge Companion to Latina/o American Literature, John Moran González, Ed.
  • Autobiographical Writing in Latin America: Folds of the Self, Sergio Franco.
  • Reinaldo Arenas: Before the Night Falls  
  • Gioconda Belli: The Country Under my Skin
  • Esmeralda Santiago: When I Was Puerto Rican
  • Lila Quintero, Darkroom
  • Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands-La Frontera

CRW 230 Novel Writing – Johnny Payne

This course will have as a reading focus on novels of the American South, some classic, some contemporary.  Technique focus will be on setting, characterization, plot, dialogue and description.  These writers are known for gothic, grotesque, and gospel, as well as lyricism and an obsession with history as a mechanism for self-understanding.  We will leaven our reading and writing with film and music from the blessed, benighted South.


  • James Dickey, Deliverance
  • James McBride, The Good Lord Bird
  • Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
  • Edward P. Jones, The Known World
  • Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
  • Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

CRW 231 Poetry Workshop - JoAnna Novak

In "Unmatching Legs Ode," Sharon Olds writes: "I wish our bodies/could leave us when they are done with us—/leave our spirits here, and walk away." In this poetry workshop, we'll explore poems about the body: its oddities, its imperfections, its fallibility, its power. Readings to include texts by Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Sharon Olds, Lucille Clifton, Lisa Robertson, and others.

CRW 248 The Creative Habit - JoAnna Novak

In The Creative Habit, choreographer Twyla Tharp writes: “Destiny, quite often, is a determined parent. Mozart was hardly some naive prodigy who sat down at the keyboard and, with God whispering in his ears, let music flow from his fingertips. It's a nice image for selling tickets to movies, but whether or not God has kissed your brow, you still have to work. Without learning and preparation, you won't know how to harness the power of that kiss.” In this course, we'll get closer to harnessing the power of that kiss by studying literature of creativity, inspiration, and success by artists across mediums: dance, tightrope walking, painting, writing, and more. Texts will include On Writing by Stephen King, On the High Wire by Philippe Petit, the writing of Agnes Martin, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Marie Rilke, What It Is by Lynda Barry, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch, and others.

CRW 299 D Studies in Publishing: Book Arts – Thomas Cook

This seminar engages students in hands-on production of chapbooks, broadsides, and other handmade publishing projects. The course will also feature secondary readings on the history of bookmaking and print culture with a focus on literary publishing. The course will culminate in individual and group book production.