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

Spring 2009

T C 357 • Writing Narratives - W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
42862 TTh
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
CRD 007B

Course Description

This course will identify common techniques used in several forms of narrative: fiction, creative nonfiction, narrative poetry, and subjective journalism. We will analyze and discuss the work of established professional writers to better understand key components of narrative: exposition, the development of characters, the construction of scenes, and the trajectory of plot. We will also discuss the role of research in writing a narrative.

Through creative writing exercises, students will experiment with narrative techniques in their own essays, articles, poems and short stories. Students will then submit drafts of these assignments for critique in a workshop setting. With guidance from the instructor, students will discuss each other's work. At the end of the semester, each student will submit a portfolio of polished work, reflecting the revisions that resulted from workshop criticism.

Several distinguished guests will visit the class to discuss components of narrative. Yale professor Anne Fadiman, whose award-winning book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is required reading for this course, will be among our classroom visitors. Other guests will include local and visiting writers and poets, a magazine editor, and UT faculty.

Grading Policy

Workshop participation: 20% Nonfiction essay (8-10 pages): 20%
Short fiction story (8-10 pages) 20%
Journalistic article (6-8 pages): 10%
Poetry exercise (5-10 pages): 10%
Portfolio of revised creative writing assignments: 20%


The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Anne Fadiman The Ice at the Bottom of the World, Mark Richard Course Packet, including work by Hunter S. Thompson, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Marie Howe, Gerald Stern, C.K. Williams, Lawrence Wright, Jim Woodring, Ernest Hemingway, J.M. Coetzee, Philip Levine, Yusef Komunyakaa, Tobias Wolff and others.

About the Professor
Matt Valentine's fiction has been published in several literary magazines, and he has received writing awards and fellowships from New York University, the Michener Center for Writers, Playboy magazine, the Vermont Studio Center and the Greensboro Review. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for short fiction. Also a professional photographer, Valentine's work has been widely published, and exhibited in group shows at the Gulf and Western Gallery (New York), the Silver Eye Center for Photography (Pittsburgh), and the Harry Ransom Center (Austin). His photographs of the September 11th Tragedy were included in the book Here is New York (Scalo, 2002) and in group shows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the International Center for Photography, where the exhibition was recognized with the ICP's prestigious Infinity Award. Currently, he is completing a series of photographic portraits of major contemporary poets.


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