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Literature MFA Course Descriptions SP23

Pre-authorization is required for students not enrolled in the Literature Department's MFA Program in Creative Writing. Please submit any pre-authorization request through the Enrollment Authorization System.

Instructor: Marco Wilkinson

This course will focus on the emerging field of ecopoetics.  As a site of investigation of human and more-than-human interactions and an exploration of epistemology and ethics in a time of environmental emergency, the theorists we will read offer varied (and sometimes conflicting) approaches ranging from celebrations of language’s ability to connect us with a world beyond human culture to Juliana Spahr’s broadside that “nature writing [is] immoral.” Theorists to be read will include Donna Haraway, Jacques Derrida, Anna Tsing, Timothy Morton, David Abram and others. Alongside theories of ecopoetics we will read creative work from a variety of genres, including work by Juliana Spahr, Lauret Savoy, Evelyn Reilly, Allison Cobb, Brian Teare, Camille Dungy, Robin Kimmerer, and others.

Visualizing Literature: Stage, Sequence, Pace
Instructor: Anna Joy Springer

In this graduate-level cross genre workshop, we will create and study texts in which visual design and illustration do as much work to inform the reading of our literary art as the words do.

There will be two modules to this course, and these modules will emphasize the creation and reading of analogue visual literatures that appear off-screen.

  1. Single-page prints, large format 2D, and other public writing;
  2. Multi-sheet and book-formatted literature including non-written visual imagery.

For each of these modules, you will create new writing and revise pre-existing writing in response to holistic design prompts to experiment with staging, sequencing, and pacing your stories, poems, mixed-genre writing, and other literary art. There will be small and full-group workshops and think-throughs for each module, as well as in-class and video demos, writing exercises, and discussion. Together we will practice a simple version of linoleum relief printing, transferring images and stenciling, plus other “illumination” techniques, and crafting both accordion and (simple) sewn books. 

This is an excellent class for both experimentation and project completion. For example, we will try out different single-page staging techniques by starting with our own ‘killed darlings’ and will finish works-in-progress for publication as chapbooks or a one-off artist’s book. Some very ambitious participants may decide to embroider an essay or carve an ice poem. For the purposes of this course, it’s fine (and often better) to work with drafts-in-progress, as the elements of page and multi-page design will require skillful revision supported by creative peer critique and written feedback.

Course materials include books and art supplies that you will need to purchase and have on-hand in class for demos and studio time. Materials and books will cost around $200 at the low end, so please budget accordingly. Materials list to come. You may need to acquire image and book design software from the Adobe Creative Suite or similar products, but you can also layout your writings with rulers, blue pencils, and glue.

Course Books to acquire by first class:
Text In the Book Format by Keith A. Smith
To The Realization of Perfect Helplessness by Robin Coste Lewi 

All other course readings will be provided.

You will leave this course having a deeper understanding of some ways literary arts visual arts can activate each other and create reader-response in ways neither form can do alone. You will learn of graphic literature makers and movements, and you will make two well-developed, presentation-ready visual literary projects that provide a complex reading experience via multiple routes of perception and recognition.