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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2007

T C 325 • Fiction and Narrative Nonfiction

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43363 MWF
2:00 PM-3:00 PM
CRD 007

Course Description

This course will give aspiring student writers the opportunity to learn the craft from accomplished professionals. In all, six established authors will visit the class to share their perspectives on the craft of writing. National Book Award winner Barry Lopez and PEN award winner Mary Karr will be among our distinguished guests, as well as visitors from the UT Austin and UT Dallas faculty, alumni of the James Michener Center for Writers, and writers from the Austin community. Each guest lecturer will discuss an element of craft, including:

Precipitating moments (how to begin a story)
The arc of the narrative
Narrative perspectives and conceits
Character and character development
Dialog and colloquial language
Descriptive language and sensory detail
Figurative language, metaphor and symbolism
Habits of the productive writer

Grading Policy

Each week, students will discuss assigned readings and participate in short writing exercises, which they will exchange with each other for constructive criticism. The last six weeks of the course will be workshop format: two or three students will submit complete narrative pieces each week, which will be discussed the following week by the entire class. Students will also be required to attend at least two public readings and submit short critical papers about the authors and their work.

Workshop participation: 20%
Five-page critical papers (2): 20%
Short writing exercises: 20%
12-15 page narrative (workshop draft): 15%
12-15 page narrative (revised final draft): 25%


Through close reading of exemplary prose and through exercises designed to strengthen critical skills, students will develop the ability to transform experience and imagination into evocative writing.

The reading material for this course will introduce students to a pantheon of contemporary narrative prose writers, illustrating the variety and diversity of the work being published today. The course packet will include selections by Margaret Atwood, Joan Didion, Andre Dubus, Aminatta Forna, William H. Gass, Barry Hannah, Mark Helprin, Dennis Johnson, Jhumpa Lahiri, Gabriel Garcëa Márquez, Alice Munro, Tim O'Brien, Juan Rulfo, Robert Stone and Tobias Wolfe. Arctic Dreams and Field Notes by Barry Lopez and The Liars Club by Mary Karr will also be required reading.


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