Foundation of Creative Writing

Eng 625D Foundation of Creative Writing

Professor Gary Pak

Fall 2018

Monday, 3:30-6 PM


The purpose of this course is to give the graduate creative writing student an introduction to the history, traditions, influences and current trends in creative writing. With this in mind, we will look at one basic question, “Why write?” Of course, there are other corollary questions that will be considered, such as “For whom are we writing?” and “Whose art is it?” And, given the events of this changing world, we will also investigate two questions that deal with the contention between two cultural “camps”: “Is art for art’s sake?” and “Is all art political?” Also to be discussed are other relevant, perhaps more practical, topics, such as creative writing pedagogy, writing groups, writer retreats, MFA programs, reading lists, etc.


More specifically, we will be asking these questions (and others) during the course of the term:


  • What is writing?
  • What is art?
  • What is the state of writing in the world?
  • What is the writing process?
  • Who owns the past?
  • Whom am I writing for?
  • Is writing a reflection of a MUSE or dialectical engagement with the MATERIALIST WORLD? Or…?


Course Requirements:

  • A 2-3 page research proposal.
  • A standard seminar paper (10-15 pages).
  • Ten weekly reactions to the readings, submitted to the class blog.
  • Two short class presentations: an in-class research report and a 15-minute talk at a departmental colloquium.
  • Full attendance and active participation in class.



  • Foundational knowledge of the theories and methods of creative writing in its historical breadth.
  • Understanding of advanced creative writing research methods and creative techniques.
  • Written and oral ability to place one’s own creative work within broader artistic conversations.
  • Independent research (using primary and secondary sources) and/or creative skills.


Course texts (subject to change):

John Berger, Ways of Seeing; Lajos Egri, The Art of Dramatic Writing; David Gershom Myers, The Elephants Teach; Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark; Ngugi Wa Th‘iongi, Decolonising of the Mind; Jean-Paul Sartre, What is Literature?; and a course packet (uploaded to Laulima “Resources”) of readings by Margaret Atwood, Bertolt Brecht, André Brink, Carlos Bulosan, John Gardner, Epeli Hau‘ofa, Robert Henri, Jane Kramer, Ayn Rand, Alan Sillitoe, Mao Tse-tung, Albert Wendt, and others.