Course Descriptions

Fall 2014

All WRT courses are restricted to graduate students in the Michener Center’s MFA program or graduate students in our affiliated programs in English, Theatre or RTF, unless special permission is granted.  Click for other departments’ workshops in fiction, poetry, playwriting, or screenwriting.


Naomi Shihab Nye
Mondays, 9:00 am – 12:00 noon
FDH Seminar Room

Restricted to, and required of, entering MCW class of Fall 2014.  Description forthcoming.


Elizabeth McCracken
Mondays, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
FDH Seminar Room

The good news and the bad news is: there are no rules. When it comes to writing, a piece of fiction succeeds or fails only depending on how it obeys its own rules, when it teaches the reader how to read and enter the particular fictional world. In our workshop, students will read each other’s work with generosity and optimism and rigor, to understand each piece’s best intentions and try to help the author to fulfill them-to learn, in other words, not only how to be critics, but how to read our own work critically. We will discuss in class and in conference both the smallest details of writing fiction as well as its loftiest aims.


Dean Young
Tuesdays, 9:00 am – 12:00 noon
FDH Seminar Room

This is a class for practicing poets.  The majority of our class time will be discussing the work generated by the poets in the class.  Each student is expected to submit one poem a week and be an active and prepared participant in workshop discussions.


Cristina Garcia
Tuesdays, 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
FDH Seminar Room

Our priority in this workshop will be reading and critiquing each other’s works-in-progress. Each writer will have the opportunity to have two to three stories, or excerpts of longer works (up to seventy pages total), discussed in class. In addition, we’ll be reading five strikingly different books (novels, memoirs, reportage)—one every couple of weeks—and studying, in-depth, the various narrative strategies employed by their authors. We’ll focus on issues of voice, structure, characterization, the role of research, and stylistic techniques. Creative responses to texts as well as other brief writing assignments, both in-class and out, will supplement the readings and critiques.

The required books for this class are:  Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov, The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino, Shah of Shahs by Ryszard Kapuscinki, Before Night Falls by Reinaldo Arenas, Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson. Additional short stories will be assigned.


Kathleen Orillion
tenatively, Wednesdays 10-1 (subject to change)
FDH Seminar Room

Students will write an original, full-length feature screenplay.  Over the course of the semester, each student will have 3-4 opportunities to submit their work-in-progress for class discussion.  Everyone is required to read one another’s work and provide thoughtful, detailed, and constructive feedback.  Although we will be considering issues of plot, structure, and momentum, this workshop will, for the most part, emphasize character-driven screenplays—that is, stories that develop organically from the character(s) that you create.