Courses for Fall 2022

Register through PATH@Penn.


English 3016.301    Intro to Creative Writing: Writing Real Science    Weike Wang    M 1:45-4:45   
 

English 3019.301    Intro to Creative Writing: Sports Narratives    Jamie-Lee Josselyn    M 1:45-4:45    
 

English 3020.301    Intro to Creative Writing: Extreme Noticing    Sam Apple    T 5:15-8:15    


English 3025.401    Introduction to Creative Writing: Writing Asian American Lives    Piyali Bhattacharya    TR 10:15-11:45   


English 3101.401    Poetry Writing Workshop    Herman Beavers    R 1:45-4:45   
 

English 3105.301    Advanced Poetry Workshop    Rachel Zolf    W 1:45-4:45    
 

English 3111.301    Experimental Writing: Poetics of the Infra-Ordinary    Kenneth Goldsmith    R 1:45-4:45    
 

English 3200.301    Fiction Workshop: Divergent Words    Marc Anthony Richardson    W 5:15-8:15    
 

English 3207.301    I Was a Teenage Monster: Coming of Age in Speculative Writing    Jeff T. Johnson    W 3:30-6:30   
 

English 3208.301    Advanced Fiction Writing: Short Fiction     Max Apple    T 1:45-4:45    
 

English 3211.301    Fictional Friendships: Writing Ardor and Amity    Piyali Bhattacharya    TR 1:45-3:15     


English 3252.301    Writing for Young Adults    Nova Ren Suma    W 1:45-4:45    
 

English 3306.401    Voting Writes    Lorene Cary    W 5:15-8:15 
 

English 3307.301    Creative Nonfiction Writing    Max Apple    R 1:45-4:45   


English 3308.301    Cooking with Words    Gabrielle Hamilton    T 1:45-4:45   

 
English 3350.301    Advanced Nonfiction Writing: Narrative Nonfiction    Buzz Bissinger    R 5:15-8:15    
 

English 3353.301    Advanced Nonfiction Writing: Xfic    Jay Kirk    M 5:15-8:15    
 

English 3411.301    The Arts and Popular Culture    Anthony DeCurtis    R 1:45-4:45      
 

English 3413.301    Advanced Journalistic Writing: Journalistic Storytelling    Dick Polman    M 1:45-4:45    


English 3417.301    Political Journalism: The '22 Midterm Congressional Elections    Dick Polman    W 1:45-4:45    
 

English 3426.301    The Art of Editing    Julia Bloch    R 10:15-1:15    


English 3501.301    Writing and Witnessing    Rachel Zolf    T 1:45-4:45    
 

English 3510.301    Making Comics    J.C. Cloutier, Rob Berry    R 10:15-1:15
 

English 3516.301    Writing as Translation    Ahmad Almallah    M 1:45-4:45    


English 3600.401    Screenwriting    Kathleen DeMarco Van Cleve    M 1:45-4:45


English 3600.402    Screenwriting    Scott Burkhardt    W 1:45-4:45


English 3600.403    Screenwriting    Scott Burkhardt    R 5:15-8:15     


English 3601.401    Advanced Screenwriting    Kathleen DeMarco Van Cleve    W 1:45-4:45   
 

English 3603.401    Writing for Television    Scott Burkhardt    W 5:15-8:15
 

English 3606.401    Experimental Playwriting    Brooke O'Harra    MW 12:00-1:30
 

English 3608.401    The Planets in my Pen: Experiments in Writing, Visual Art & Performance    Ricardo Bracho    R 3:30-6:30  


English 3652.401    Is This Really Happening? Performance and Contemporary Political Horizons    Brooke O'Harra, Sharon Hayes    W 5:15-8:15  
 

Master of Liberal Arts courses

Please note that these courses are generally not open to Penn undergraduate students. For information about the MLA program, visit the College of Liberal and Professional Studies.


English 9000    The Archeology of Fiction    Kathryn Watterson    R 5:15-8:15
 

English 9001    Fiction Workshop    Stephanie Feldman    T 5:15-8:15 (Online)
 

English 9011    Screenwriting    Sunita Prasad    M 7:00-10:00 (Online)

  

 

Descriptions

 

English 3016.301    
Intro to Creative Writing: Writing Real Science    
Wang   
M 1:45-4:45
 

In this course, students will read and write fiction and nonfiction with an eye for science research. Most if not all fiction and nonfiction requires some kind of research. Our readings will explore how writers can incorporate knowledge and facts into their prose without compromising craft (the how). While research is ubiquitous to writers, science is rarely found in creative writing without being conflated with science fiction—which this course will touch on, but will not be our main focus. Instead, this course will explore ways to bring real science into our pieces and make them fun, exciting and fresh. The first half of the semester will be dedicated to reading and mini workshops of a short piece (2-3 pages). The second half of the semester, each student will work towards a longer piece (7-10 pages), to be workshopped. Students do not need a science background for the course, though an interest in science, creative writing and craft will prove helpful.


 

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English 3019.301    
Intro to Creative Writing: Sports Narratives     
Josselyn   
M 1:45-4:45 
 

Sports shape our lives as individuals, as families, and as communities. Whether a runner completing a marathon for charity, a high school hopeful’s quest for a scholarship, or a pro team clinching—or falling short of—a title, the highs and lows of an athletic journey, when combined with literary devices, insightful reflection, and occasionally just the right amount of indulgence, make for stories that teach and inspire. Even those of us who are true amateur athletes, exclusively spectators, or even sports skeptics can tap into the emotions that sports evoke. And as we have seen recently, as well as throughout history, sports provide a crucial platform for social, political, and cultural issues via circumstances both on and off the court, field, or track.

Over the course of the semester, students in our workshop will compose a personal essay from the perspective of an athlete or fan, a reported piece on an athlete, team, or sporting event, and a short story that centers around athletics. For their final project, students will complete a longer piece in one of these modes, along with a revision of an earlier draft. As students develop their own sports stories, we will be joined by in-class guests and we will read the work of impactful storytellers like Grantland Rice, Toni Cade Bambara, Roger Angell, John McPhee, Leslie Jamison, Hanif Abdurraqib, Bill Simmons, and Penn’s own Buzz Bissinger, Sam and Max Apple, and Dan McQuade. We will also look to professional athletes whose words and gestures have made an impact like Kathrine Switzer, Mary Cain, Serena Williams, Kevin Love, and Colin Kaepernick. And, of course, we’ll watch Rocky.


 

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English 3020.301    
Intro to Creative Writing: Extreme Noticing    
Apple   
T 5:15-8:15
 

In the words of novelist Alice LaPlantte, “our first job as writers” is “to notice.” We all notice the world around as we make our way through each day, but “noticing” as a writer is different. Whether working on fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or any other genre, the writer has to pay attention to the very small, to zoom in on the specific detail or insight that can make even the most mundane moment feel entirely new. Noticing in this way is a skill that, like most skills, is developed with practice. In this class, we’ll practice paying attention to the small with weekly writing prompts and take occasional “noticing excursions” around campus. Along the way, we’ll review student writing as a group and read works by great contemporary noticers, including Karl Ove Knausgaard, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ben Lerner, and Miranda July. Questions? Contact me at samapple@gmail.com. 


 

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English 3025.401    
Introduction to Creative Writing: Writing Asian American Lives    
Bhattacharya   
TR 10:15-11:45 
 

Kids know more about dinosaurs than they do about Asian Americans.” So says Dr. Karen Su, founding director of PAACH (Pan-Asian American Community House) at Penn, and though she’s talking about children’s literature, her sentiment might apply to adults, too. Who are the Asian Americans? What does it mean to be non-Black POC in this country? How do religion, ethnicity, gender, class, nationality, and immigration status define this group? How do we discuss all this while being inclusive of both “us” and “them”? This course will explore these questions through the lens of an introductory fiction, nonfiction, and poetry creative writing workshop. We’ll follow the traditional workshop format of critiquing each other’s short stories, essays, and poems in class, along with close reading works by authors as established as Jhumpa Lahiri, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Amy Tan, and as contemporary as Lisa Ko, Bushra Rehman, Ocean Vuong, and Mira Jacob. We’ll use these texts as springboards to examine representations of identity, inclusion, and exclusion, and we’ll be invited to consider these representations in the media around us as well as in our local communities. Finally, we’ll think through how we can contribute to discussions of these topics with our own artistic voices. This course is cross-listed with Asian American Studies 1200.


 

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English 3101.401   
Poetry Writing Workshop    
Beavers    
R 1:45-4:45
 

This workshop is intended to help students with prior experience writing poetry develop techniques for generating poems along with the critical tools necessary to revise and complete them. Through in-class exercises, weekly writing assignments, readings of established and emerging poets, and class critique, students will acquire an assortment of resources that will help them develop a more concrete sense of voice, rhythm, prosody, metaphor, and images as well as a deeper understanding of how these things come together to make a successful poem. Weekly assignments will involve using familiar forms like the sonnet, as well as forms originating outside the U.S. such as the pantoum and the ghazal. Students will be asked to produce a final portfolio of poems, keep a writing journal, and participate in a public reading at the end of the term. This class is cross-listed with Africana Studies.


 

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English 3105.301    
Advanced Poetry Workshop    
Zolf    
W 1:45-4:45
 

This workshop is designed for students who want to deepen their poetic practice. There is no prerequisite for this course other than a desire to work on your poetic potential to create a sequence, long poem or other form of extended writing using poetic language. By “poetic” I mean a kind of wild force that acts on and in language to upend fixed ideas and categories. You don’t have to be a poet to take this course. It is open to writers and artists interested in working with the force of the poetic to amplify the sound, rhythm, arrangement and structure of your writing. In the language lab, we will experiment with different ways to: write poetically and generate new work, revise, and articulate our poetics, our ways of making. Weekly assignments will include: reading contemporary collections of poetry and essays on poetics, writing, peer review, and participation in class discussion.


 

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English 3111.301    
Experimental Writing: Poetics of the Infra-Ordinary    
Goldsmith    
R 1:45-4:45
 

"How should we take account of, question, describe what happens every day and recurs every day: the banal, the quotidian, the obvious, the common, the ordinary, the infra-ordinary, the background noise, the habitual? To question the habitual. But that's just it, we're habituated to it. We don't question it, it doesn't question us." In this class, we’ll put a poetic microscope on those things around us which we normally pay no attention to—objects on our desk, the room we live in, the food we eat, the language around us—and turn it into literature. "How are we to speak of these ‘common things,’ how to track them down rather, how to flush them out, wrest them from the dross in which they remain mired, how to give them a meaning, a tongue, to let them, finally, speak of what is, of what we are."

Describe your street.
Describe another street. Compare.
Make an inventory of you pockets, of your bag. Ask yourself about the provenance, the use, what will become of each of the objects you take out.
Question your tea spoons.
What is there under your wallpaper?
How many movements does it take to dial a phone number?
Why don’t you find cigarettes in grocery stores? Why not? *

Quotes from Georges Perec, “The Infra-ordinary,” 1973.


 

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English 3200.301    
Fiction Workshop: Divergent Words
Richardson    
W 5:15-8:15
 

In this fiction writing workshop, we will be making a conscious effort to transcend our personal reading and writing preferences to be apprenticed by visceral, divergent literature—aesthetic achievements centered around objective life, subjective reality, and ecstatic confession and play! Most of the works that tend to affect us deeply are the ones that might have wearied us, or even greatly disturbed us. But in time, upon further reflection, we find them rather informative—or even illuminating! We will do a lot of new weekly writing, which will result in a draft and a final version of an original prose piece. You and another classmate will be “hosting” at least two classes in open discussion of a weekly reading or film and critiquing each other’s drafts—focusing on craft rather than content, aesthetics rather than plot. You will challenge your self-censorship in a safe and supportive environment and will read weekly what you write to develop your observational and listening skills in determining the effects of the spoken word: you will emote! emote! emote!


 

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English 3207.301    
I Was a Teenage Monster: Coming of Age in Speculative Writing  
Johnson    
W 3:30-6:30
 

This writing workshop explores representations of adolescence, growing up strange, and becoming other. How can fantastic exaggeration and conceit accurately represent coming-of-age experiences and the trials and tribulations of teenhood? How does becoming a monster map onto becoming an adult? How can we draw from cross-media representations of teenage monsters to write our own monsters? What do the monsters we make say about our societal and cultural concerns? We’ll examine monstering in TV, film, comics, novels, and poems, building on references students already have on hand. We will also read and discuss monster theory. Along the way, we will write and revise our own speculative stories, poems, or essays of the strange and the monstrous.


 

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English 3208.301    
Advanced fiction Writing: Short Fiction    
Apple    
T 1:45-4:45
 

The class will be conducted as a seminar. Every student will write four stories during the semester; each story will be discussed by the group. The instructor will, from time to time, suggest works of fiction that he hopes will be illustrative and inspirational but there will be no required books. Attendance and active class participation are essential. Permit from the instructor is required. Please submit a brief writing sample to maxapple@gmail.com.


 

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English 3211.301    
Fictional Friendships: Writing Ardor and Amity    
Bhattacharya   
TR 1:45-3:15

 

How many kinds of love exist among friends? What is the difference between friendship and romance? In what ways do the ideals of femme, masc, trans, and cis complicate friendship? What are sisterhoods and what are bromances? What is a frenemy? In what ways do we dissolve the boundaries between queer friendships? And what role does family play in making friends: that is, can one ever dilute blood? What do race and class have to do with ardor and amity? How do we define our friends outside and inside our communities? This fiction workshop will explore not only how we experience friendship, but also how we write it. We will examine novels famous for their takes on friendship (Toni Morrison’s Sula, Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, Tanwi Nandini Islam’s Bright Lines, Nicole Dennis Benn’s Patsy, Justin Torres’s We the Animals) and interrogate the sticky, blurry lines between friendship and love, between loyalty to a person and loyalty to a community. We’ll also be writing our own short stories, creating characters who have to make difficult decisions because of their friendships and particularly because of relationships that teeter on the edge of fidelity and fondness.  


 

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English 3252.301    
Writing for Young Adults    
Suma   
W 1:45-4:45 
 

Young adult literature is powerful, inventive, and worthy of respect—and those writing it have enormous potential in their hands. Part workshop and part seminar, this class will explore the craft of YA literature through creative assignments and readings of texts by both giants in the field and emerging voices, and discussions of student work in a constructive environment. Students will focus on craft concerns crucial to writing about and for teens, such as: voice, point of view, immediacy, opening hooks, and pacing, and we will look beyond straightforward prose into forms such as verse novels, epistolary, and other experimental mashups. Students will read contemporary YA works and will write creative responses inspired by assigned readings. Authors we will study as models may include Elizabeth Acevedo, Tiffany D. Jackson, Malinda Lo, Samantha Mabry, Anna-Marie McLemore, Emily X.R. Pan, Randy Ribay, Courtney Summers, and Ibi Zoboi. Come ready to challenge any preconceptions you may have about YA literature and examine what some believe is its greatest potential: to offer young readers a vehicle for recognizing themselves, and for reflecting and even transforming the world around them. Students will workshop their own YA novel openings and share YA short story drafts in small groups. Ultimately students will come away with a final portfolio of creative work that showcases their unique YA voice, with potential for further exploration beyond the confines of this class.


 

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English 3306.401    
Voting Writes  
Cary 
W 5:15-8:15 
 

This course is designed as an editorial group to share excellent, nonpartisan, fun, cool, sometimes deadly earnest, content for and about fresh voters. English 3306 will sometimes work directly with diverse populations of youth from other colleges and high schools throughout Philadelphia. 

We will practice many forms that writers today must learn to tell stories or publicize longer-form work: blogs, social media posts, short videos, podcasts. Then we'll publish your work in real time during the mid-term election season of 2022 with the multimedia platform  #VoteThatJawn and regional partners. Launched in 2018 after March for Our Lives urged youth to register and vote,  #VoteThatJawn greatly helped amplify youth voice and increase registration in Philadelphia in 2018 and 2020.

Student writers will also write posts to participate in and promote at least one registration or election event with area youth.

As it performs a civic service, this class is listed as an Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) course. This course is cross-listed with Africana Studies.


 

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English 3307.301    
Creative Nonfiction Writing    
Apple   
R 1:45-4:45
 

Each student will write three essays and the class will offer criticism and appreciation of each. There will be some discussion of and instruction in the form, but the course will be based on the student writing. Attendance and participation required.


 

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English 3308.301    
Cooking with Words    
Hamilton   
T 1:45-4:45
 

This writing workshop, taught by eminent New York TImes Magazine food columnist and restaurateur Gabrielle Hamilton, will be devoted to the topic of food, although it is not, strictly speaking, a course on food writing. Instead, we will read a manageable and engaging syllabus of writers who have used food in their work—writers who may include John Berger, KD Lang, and Ogden Nash—and then craft our own original writing about non-food topics through food. Have you ever spent the night in jail and eaten the bologna sandwich and warm half-pint of milk they leave for you in the holding cell? Let’s go at that story through the bologna sandwich. Ever ended a friendship over the way they spoke to the waitress who delivered the food? Hidden your lunch at school so no one would tease you about what was in your lunchbox? Overspent on a bottle of wine to prove to the clerk  you “knew what you were doing”? We’ll use the food story as the catalyst for the larger story, with a focus on getting the “weight” and the “freight” of each aspect of the story just right. Please submit a permissions request to join the class waitlist. For more information, please contact Devon Inman at dwinman@sas.upenn.edu .


 

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English 3350.301    
Advanced Nonfiction Writing: Narrative Nonfiction    
Bissinger   
R 5:15-8:15

 

This is a course for students who love the written word and desire to advance their ability to write and craft narrative nonfiction. It is a course in applying devices of fiction to nonfiction writing without compromise of facts. Writing will be emphasized, and so will avenues of storytelling through such components as creating a narrative spine, building a dramatic plot, character development, scene-setting and use of quotes. Students must be willing to do significant reportage, since narrative nonfiction cannot exist without it. There will be heavy concentration on writing assignments and workshopping. We will also examine the work of authors such as Katharine Boo, Isabel Wilkerson, Monica Hesse, Lillian Ross, Lorene Cary, Gay Talese, David Foster Wallace, Truman Capote, John Hersey and JR Moehringer. We will also examine some of my own works such as Friday Night Lights and magazine pieces from Vanity Fair for candid discussions on what the author was trying to do and whether it was achieved. Each writing assignment will be roughly a thousand words. A comprehensive narrative nonfiction piece of somewhere around 5,000 words will be required at the end of the semester. Class attendance and participation are essential.

The course will meet on Thursdays 5:15-8:15 and Fridays 1:45-4:45pm on the following days: Sept. 1, 2, 15, 16, 29, 30. Oct. 13, 14, 27, 28. Nov. 10, 11. Dec. 8, 9.

I will be available for one-on-one discussions during the week of Oct. 17.


 

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English 3353.301    
Advanced Nonfiction Writing: Xfic    
Kirk 
M 5:15-8:15
 

This advanced creative nonfiction workshop lets students publish their final pieces on Penn’s online literary journal XficXfic is an innovative nonfiction journal for undergrad writers who want to test the boundaries of longform and earn course credit in English 3353. The type of stories Xfic most wants to publish are ones where the writer is in pursuit of immediate experience. Reality as it unfolds before your eyes. Then, in workshop, we will take the raw material of experience and transform it into compelling narrative through innovative and experimental techniques. Xfic seeks writers seeking new ways to discover meaning, who seek to be more daring, more performative, more excellent, more virtuosic, funnier and weirder, and, most of all, who seek to directly engage and invent reality at the same time. Come and join us!

XFic is sponsored by the Kelly Writers House and the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania. For questions about the class, please contact Jay Kirk at jaykirk@upenn.edu


 

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English 3411.301    
The Arts and Popular Culture    
DeCurtis   
R 1:45-4:45  
 

This is a workshop-oriented course that will concentrate on all aspects of writing about artistic endeavor, including criticism, reviews, profiles, interviews and essays. For the purposes of this class, the arts will be interpreted broadly, and students will be able—and, in fact, encouraged—to write about both the fine arts and popular culture, including fashion, sports and comedy. Students will be doing a great deal of writing throughout the course, but the main focus will be a 3,000-word piece about an artist or arts organization in Philadelphia (or another location approved by the instructor) that will involve reporting, interviews and research. Potential subjects can run the full range from a local band to a museum, from a theater group to a designer, from a photographer to a sculptor.


 

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English 3413.301    
Advanced Journalistic Writing: Journalistic Storytelling    
Polman   
M 1:45-4:45  
 

The key issue: “How does the writer hook the reader, and how does the writer keep that reader hooked to the end?” English 3413 is about mastering the mechanics of effective nonfiction narrative storytelling. Imagine that you are writing general-interest feature articles for a general-interest publication or website: What are the best ways to put the reader into your story? What are the elements that make a piece work? What are the elements of a good opening? When is it better to “show” as opposed to “tell”? When is it best to use first, second or third person? When is it best for the writer to use your own voice—or keep that voice at a distance? When is it best to use humor, and when to avoid it? When is it best to use anecdotes and scenes—both of which are staples of narrative storytelling? What are the “universal” themes that exist between the lines? We’ll work in different genres: observational pieces, profiles, personal pieces, long-form third-person pieces—and guest professionals will visit to share their expertise. An editor of mine used to say, “Good writing can be nurtured, cultivated, and encouraged.” That’s what I try to do. And I always say, “Journalistic writing is the most fun you can have working hard, and the hardest work you can do while having fun.”


 

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English 3417.301    
Political Journalism: The '22 Midterm Congressional Elections    
Polman   
W 1:45-4:45
 

How do journalists who cover national politics meet the challenge of writing factually and truthfully—when there is no longer a general public consensus about what constitutes fact and truth? Journalists today are tasked with the traditional job of holding people in power accountable (starting with the Biden administration)—while also writing responsibly about the Trump-inspired movement that imperils democracy itself. And these challenges will be exacerbated in the coming months, as the Republicans try to seize control of the House and Senate in November's midterm congressional elections. Students in this course will write frequent timely pieces—opinion columns and news analyses—while confronting some broader issues: Is traditionally "objective" journalism up to the challenge? Is it feasible to provide "balanced" "both sides" coverage when one of the major parties is led by a former president who seeks to undermine traditional democratic values? Is it possible to write critically of lies and misinformation without being labeled "partisan?"


 

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English 3426.301    
The Art of Editing    
Bloch   
R 10:15-1:15
 

This course takes a critical and practical approach to the art of editing. Is the editor simply a “failed writer,” as T. S. Eliot claimed, or is good editing the key to a writer’s clarity and integrity? In addition to exploring theories and histories of the red pen, we will consider a few case studies of editorial interventions, such as Ezra Pound’s excisions and revisions of Eliot’s The Waste Land, Marianne Moore’s five-decade quest to revise a single poem, and the editor who was discovered to have invented Raymond Carver’s distinctive narrative style. We will immerse ourselves in the technical aspects of editing, covering such topics as the difference between developmental and line editing, the merits of MLA and Chicago style, proofreading in hard copy and digital environments, and when to wield an em dash. Students will gain practical copyediting experience, learn about a range of different levels of editorial interventions, and investigate the politics of language usage and standards, reading from literary texts such as Gloria Anzaldúa’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” Harryette Mullen’s Sleeping with the Dictionary, and Dohra Ahmad’s Rotten English anthology to ask crucial questions about what “standard English” really means. This course counts toward the Journalistic Writing Minor.


 

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English 3501.301    
Writing and Witnessing    
Zolf   
T 1:45-4:45
 

This course will explore one of the fundamental questions we face as humans: how do we bear witness to ourselves and to the world? How do we live and write with a sense of response-ability to one another? How does our writing grapple with traumatic histories that continue to shape our world and who we are in it? The very word “witnessing” contains a conundrum within it: it means both to give testimony, such as in a court of law, and to bear witness to something beyond knowledge, in a spiritual sense. In this class, we will explore both senses of the term “witness” as we study work by a number of writers and thinkers, including Claudia Rankine, Divya Victor, Paul Celan, Don Mee Choi, Saidiya Hartman, Layli Long Soldier, and Akilah Oliver, that wrestles with how to be a witness to oneself and others during a time of ongoing war, colonialism, racial violence, climate change, and other disasters. Students are welcome in this class no matter what stage you are at with writing, and whether you write poetry or prose or plays or make other kinds of art. Regardless of your experience, in this class you’ll be considered an “author,” which in its definition also means a “witness.” We will examine and question what authorship can do in the world, and we will analyze and explore the fine lines among being a witness, a bystander, a participant, a spectator, and an ally. In this class you will critically analyze and write responses to class readings; do writing exercises related to the work we read; and complete (and be workshopped on) a portfolio of creative writing (and art, if you choose) that bears witness to events that matter to you. 


 

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English 3510.301    
Making Comics    
Cloutier, Berry    
R 10:15-1:15

 

This course is a creative writing workshop in the inexhaustible art of making comics. Open to both beginners and enthusiasts alike, the seminar will expose students to the unique language of comics and allow them to create their own stories in the medium. Through essential critical readings, practical homework, and lab assignments, students will develop an understanding of how text and sequential images create a unique kind of reading experience and storytelling. Over the course of the semester, students will take on a variety of roles in the making of comics (writing, illustrating, page layout, inking, character creation, and more), read groundbreaking comics theory and criticism, analyze now-classic and experimental comics, adapt a variety of prose & verse genres into comics and, ultimately, create a longer graphic narrative project as a group.

Although this is not intended as a course in drawing, all students will be expected to explore comics storytelling through the combination of words and cartoons (don’t worry, stick figures are fine!). In-class reviews will give students direct insight into how certain choices of composition affect the storytelling process. During the first half of the semester, the course will rigorously combine theory and practice, navigating through a slew of different genres (e.g. poem, short story, journalism, memoir, etc.) and how these can be transmogrified into comics form. The second half will be dedicated to the production of the longer comic project.


 

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English 3516.301    
Writing as Translation    
Almallah    
M 1:45-4:45
 

“Translators need to be invisible,” said Elena Marcu, Romanian translator of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. “They need to leave no trace.” What happens when we translate someone’s voice into another language? What is lost, and is anything gained? Is it most important to strive for accuracy and fidelity, or does the translator become a co-creator of meaning—leaving their own traces? And how can the act of translation expand and push our own creative abilities into new spaces we discover?

This workshop course is devoted to creative writing as inherently a form of translation. Students will try their hands at writing their own translations, although please note that knowledge of a language other than English is not required. The idea is to work from available translations in English to come up with our own versions of the texts and mediums we chose. We’ll also write parallel texts and adaptations based on the available English translations. But to understand what we’re doing in a larger context  We will read some of the theory on translation by Borges, Benjamin, and Bakhtin. We will also examine the merits and problematics of translations that divert significantly from their source texts such as Pound's translations of Chinese poetry and re-writings of the Arabian Nights. This will give us a chance to broaden our definition of translation and to look at adaptations of works in movies and graphic novels. It will even enable us to look at using genres from other literary traditions in the context of translation by looking at the history of incorporating the Persian Ghazal into English. Essentially, translation/re-writing is a fact of life, and this course will help you deal with that reality!


 

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English 3600.401    
Screenwriting    
DeMarco Van Cleve       
M 1:45-4:45

 

This is a workshop-style course for those who have thought they had a terrific idea for a movie but didn't know where to begin. The class will focus on learning the basic tenets of classical dramatic structure and how this (ideally) will serve as the backbone for the screenplay of the aforementioned terrific idea. Each student should, by the end of the semester, have at least thirty pages of a screenplay completed. Classic and not-so-classic screenplays will be required reading for every class, and students will also become acquainted with how the business of selling and producing one's screenplay actually happens. Students will be admitted on the basis of an application by email briefly describing their interest in the course to the instructor.

 

 

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English 3600.402    
Screenwriting    
Burkhardt       
W 1:45-4:45

 

This is a workshop-style course for those who have thought they had a terrific idea for a movie but didn't know where to begin. The class will focus on learning the basic tenets of classical dramatic structure and how this (ideally) will serve as the backbone for the screenplay of the aforementioned terrific idea. Each student should, by the end of the semester, have at least thirty pages of a screenplay completed. Classic and not-so-classic screenplays will be required reading for every class, and students will also become acquainted with how the business of selling and producing one's screenplay actually happens. Students will be admitted on the basis of an application by email briefly describing their interest in the course to the instructor.

 

 

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English 3600.403    
Screenwriting    
Burkhardt         
R 5:15-8:15

 

This is a workshop-style course for those who have thought they had a terrific idea for a movie but didn't know where to begin. The class will focus on learning the basic tenets of classical dramatic structure and how this (ideally) will serve as the backbone for the screenplay of the aforementioned terrific idea. Each student should, by the end of the semester, have at least thirty pages of a screenplay completed. Classic and not-so-classic screenplays will be required reading for every class, and students will also become acquainted with how the business of selling and producing one's screenplay actually happens. Students will be admitted on the basis of an application by email briefly describing their interest in the course to the instructor.

 

 

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English 3601.401    
Advanced Screenwriting    
DeMarco Van Cleve   
W 1:45-4:45

 

This is a workshop style course for students who have completed a screenwriting class, or have a draft of a screenplay they wish to improve or want to learn everything in one shot and are ready to do a lot of writing, and even more rewriting.

 

 

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English 3603.401    
Writing for Television    
Burkhardt
W 5:15-8:15

 

This is a workshop-style course for those who have an interest in writing for television. The course will consist of two parts: First, students will develop premise lines, beat sheets and outlines for an episode of an existing television show. Second, students will develop their own idea for a television series which will culminate in the writing of the first 30 pages of an original television pilot. Students will be admitted on the basis of an application by email briefly describing their interest in the course and their experience as a writer to course instructor.

 

 

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English 3606.401 
Experimental Playwriting
O'Harra 
MW 12:00-1:30
 

In this course, students will write for theater and performance. Writers in the class will take cues from a myriad of experimental playwrights and performance artists who have challenged conventional ideas of what a script should look and sound like. Students will be asked to challenge how narrative is constructed, how characters are built and what a setting can be. This class will push beyond the formal structures of the well-made play script and address how writers explore and reinvent form and language as a means for radical change in the field of performance.  Some playwrights we will read include Gertrude Stein, Suzan-Lori Parks, Maria Irene Fornes, Robert O’Hara, Young Jean Lee, John Jesurun, and Toshiki Okada. This class is ideal for playwrights, performers, screenwriters, and writers of experimental fiction. This course is cross-listed with Theatre Arts.


 

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English 3608.401 
The Planets in my Pen: Experiments in Writing, Visual Art & Performance
Bracho
R 3:30-6:30 


The Planets in my Pen is a multi-genre creative arts workshop constellated around experimentation. We will be looking at innovative writing, visual art and film as models for the making of poetry, fiction, memoir, drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, plays and performance. The genres, techniques and movements of science fiction, surrealism, performance art and the political essay will be key with an emphasis on feminist, queer, left and anticolonial models of art and world making. The works of William S. Burroughs, John Rechy, Nelly Santiago, Jean Genet, Ntozake Shange, Octavia Butler, Adrienne Kennedy, Lucrecia Martel, Aimé Cesaire, Jamaica Kincaid, Regina Jose Galindo, Raul Ruiz, Josefina Baez, Zadie Smith and Cherríe Moraga will be among those read, viewed and studied. As their final project students will submit a final manuscript, performance and/or art object as well as participate in a public reading/viewing/screening. This class is scheduled with GSWS 3600, LALS 3600, and THAR 3600.

 

 

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English 3652.401    
Is This Really Happening? Performance and Contemporary Political Horizons    
O'Harra, Hayes 
W 5:15-8:15

 

This class addresses the meeting points inside of and between a range of resistant performance practices with a focus on artists using performance to address political and social encounters in the contemporary moment. Performance, a chaotic and unruly category that slides across music, dance, theater and visual art, has long been a container for resistant actions/activities that bring aesthetics and politics into dynamic dialogue. Embracing works, gestures, movements, sounds and embodiments that push against and beyond the conventions of a given genre, performance can't help but rub uncomfortably against the status quo. Scholars working across Performance Studies and Black Studies importantly expanded critical discourse around performance to address the entanglement of the medium with physical, psychic, spatial and temporal inhabitations of violence and power. Generating copious genealogies of embodied resistance, this scholarship instigates a complex, interdisciplinary and multidimensional perspective on intersections between art and life, performance and politics. The class hosts a series of public lectures, presentations and performances by visual artists, choreographers, theater artists, composers/musicians, performers, curators and activists engaged with the social and political moment. Presentations will be open to the public with students in the course developing in-depth research into the work of each visiting artist/performer/presenter to engage the larger context of each visitor's scholarship and/or practice through readings, discussion and in-class presentations. This course is open to all interested students. No prior requisites or experience with performance or the performing arts is necessary.


 

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Master of Liberal Arts Courses

Please note that these courses are generally not open to Penn undergraduate students. For information about the MLA program, visit the College of Liberal and Professional Studies.

 

English 9000
The Archeology of Fiction
Watterson
R 5:15-8:15
In-person

 

This writing workshop is an archeological dig for the layers of experience, thought, sensation, and fantasy buried in your own imagination that inspire the creation of your stories. In this seminar, you will have the opportunity to excavate stories you want to tell by using the tools of writing and dreaming, improvisation, visualization, and mindfulness. Every week, you’ll do writing exercises to spark new connections. You will also explore the elements of literary fiction that invite readers to step into the interior dreams that can be seen, tasted, felt, and experienced through the sense details that take us there. We will mine a deeper understanding of the art and craft of writing, including choices about structure, plot, character-development, dialogue, point of view, style and voice, by reading short stories by a wide range of authors, including Alice Munro, John Edgar Wideman, Annie Proulx, Charles Johnson, Jamaica Kincaid, Jumpa Lahiri, and Langston Hughes. From them, you can learn a great deal about your own work by paying attention to theirs and applying the lessons you learn. This will be a semester of sharing, listening, reading, thinking, watching your own mind and writing, writing, writing. The workshop will include in-class exercises; take-home exercises; daily free-writing, close-readings, an in-depth study of three works by one author; oral presentations; class participation, and critique workshops in which you will read your work aloud and receive feedback designed to help you approach revision as an art.
 

 

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English 9001
Fiction Workshop
Feldman
T 5:15-8:15
Online

 

This course will investigate craft elements such as characterization, voice, world-building, conflict/tension, plot and narrative structure. How do we use these craft fundamentals in our own writing? When, if ever, do we disregard them? In our examination of craft tools, we’ll read and analyze contemporary fiction written by authors such as James Baldwin, Elif Batuman, Jhumpa Lahiri, Yiyun Li, Edna O’Brien, Helen Oyeyemi and George Saunders. In addition to reading and analysis, this course will feature intensive group workshops during which we share and discuss our works-in-progress with one another. This course will encourage students to write freely and to experiment with style, structure and content; it is open to writers of all levels of experience, including beginners.


 

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English 9011
Screenwriting 
Prasad
M 7:00-10:00
Online

 

This workshop-style course will introduce students to the fundamentals of screenwriting, including the basic tenets of classical dramatic structure and storytelling strategies. Writing exercises, screenplay reading assignments, and in-class readings of each other’s work will help students develop scripts that have a sound narrative structure, are attentive to character and emotion, and are conducive to visual media. Each student should, by the end of the semester, have at least thirty pages of a screenplay completed.


 

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