purpose of the course is to give students at the beginning of their graduate
careers an understanding of the influences that bear on them as creative
writers—as students of writing within an academic setting (UHM in particular),
and as artists in a world context. We’ll discuss such topics as:
- Literary arts as a
fundamental human activity
- The imagination and the
artists interior life
- The situation of
creative writing as a field within academia
- Localism, regionalism,
sixteen-week seminar is divided into seven overlapping areas. Each consists of
close readings and conversations. Students will be fully involved every week by
leading class discussions, writing weekly responses to the assigned readings,
and collaborating on a final project: a colloquium presentation, with students
from the other 625 sections, on a book-in-common: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
topics and some sample readings:
THE WRITER IN THE BEGINNINGS: ORALLITY AND LITERACY
Ong’s Orality and Literacy; essays on
recent theories of cognitive psychology as it applies to writing and
imagination (e.g., Steven Pinker, The
Language Instinct); essays about myth (e.g., Robert Bringhurst, Everywhere Being is Dancing); and the
anatomy of phonetics.
LITERATURE AND THEORIES OF MIND
Baron-Cohen’s Mindblindness: An Essay on
Autism and Theory of Mind;recent research on how we imagine (or “mind
read”) the thoughts and motives of other people and how writers indicate the
“thinking” that goes on in literary works (e.g., Lisa Zunshine, Strange Concepts and the Stories They Make
HOW FICTION WORKS
Wood’s How Fiction Works; Alan
Palmer, “The Construction of Fictional Minds”; a general introduction to
narratology; essays by fiction writers on their craft.
HOW POETRY WORKS
Hirshfield’s Nine Gates: Entering the
Mind of Poetry; essays by poets on poetry (e.g., Lorca, Hass, Neruda,
Rilke, Southwick, and others).
WRITING IN THE WORLD AND IN THEORY: IS ART RESPONSIBLE?
on the role, if any, that writing can have in the domains of politics, ethics,
spirituality, social change (e.g., Martha Nussbaum, “Victims and Agents: What
Greek Tragedy Can Teach Us about Sympathy and Responsibility”; Tony Judt, “What
Have We Learned, If Anything?”; Wole Soyinka, “Between Truths and Indulgences”; Orhan Pamuk, “My Father’s Suitcase”:
Nobel Prize Lecture, 2006). Readings about the positioning of literature in
current critical theory (e.g., Rene Girard, “Theory and Its Terrors” from The Limits of Theory; Erin O’Connor,
“Preface for a Post-Postcolonial Criticism,” and others).
CREATIVE WRITING AS COURSE IN THE ACADEMY: PEDAGOGY
general introduction to the methods of teaching creative writing in schools,
with essays such as Deena Skolnick and Paul Bloom, “The Intuitive Cosmology of
Fictional Worlds”; Kendall Walton, “On the (So-called) Puzzle of Imaginative
Resistance”; Robert Mezey, “The Poetry Hour,” and others).
FRANKENSTEIN: A FINAL PROJECT
will apply what we’ve learned (if anything) by looking at Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (the original 1816-1817 version), and talking
about it the way writers talk about writing. We’ll read a few additional
essays, such as Denise Gigante, “Facing the Ugly: The Case of Frankenstein”; and
Lisa Zunshine, “Why Robots Go Astray, or the Cognitive Foundation of the
grades will be based on the equality of seminar participation, weekly responses
to reading assignments, final project.