Foundatns of Creative Writing

Prof. Susan M. Schultz

Foundations of Creative Writing, 625


The purpose of the course will be to think about writing and ourselves as writers. There will be frequent creative exercises, as well as responses to the reading and a short essay (6-8 pages). The final seminar paper will be an autobiographical essay of 15-20 pages at the end, on the topic of becoming a writer. (Some of this autobiography will, of necessity, be speculative.) Students will prepare to address an as-yet-undetermined theme at a colloquium with English 625 students in other tracks. Their presentations will be three minutes long. I will encourage active participation in every aspect of the course.

This course is intended for all creative writers, so students may choose the genres in which they want to do their exercises and even their essays and reading responses (documentary and lyrical essays are welcome). Attention will be paid to the process of getting published, as well as to becoming a publisher of others. How to create a community of writers is something we will, I hope, enact in the class, as well as discuss in more abstract terms. We will occasionally workshop creative and critical work.

Student Learning Outcomes:

1. To think critically and creatively about why we write.

2. To think historically about the writing processes of others and ourselves.

3. To think about the ways our work develops out of an intellectual relationship with another writer.

4. To prepare to teach creative writing to others.


1. A cluster of essays that defend or attack literature:

Plato, Horace, Sir Philip Sidney, P.B. Shelley, T.S. Eliot, W.E.B. DuBois, Toni Morrison, Amiri Baraka, John Gardner, Joy Harjo, Cathy Park Hong, and more.

2. Writers’ memoir(s): Jean-Paul Sartre, The Words. Will also use some selections of other memoirs by writers, including work by Simone Weil, either Gravity and Grace or essays. Interviews with authors: Charles Johnson among them, from Paris Review and other places.

3. Writers on writers: Charles Olson on Herman Melville; Susan Howe on Emily Dickinson, Steve Collis on Susan Howe. Publishers on publishing, including Matvei Yankelevich of Ugly Duckling Presse.

4. Hidden histories: W.S. Sebald, The Emigrants, Lawson Fusao Inada, Legends from Camp, Kaia Sand, Remember to Wave, Donovan Kuhio Colleps, Proposed Additions.

5. Pedagogy: Hazel Smith, The Writing Experiment. Selection from Natalie Ginsberg, Writing Down the Bones. Somatic exercises by C.A. Conrad