Courses for Fall 2024

Courses for Fall 2024
To join a course, click here to register via PATH@Penn.
English 0402.302
First-Year Seminar: Kelly Writers House
Julia Bloch R 10:15am-1:15pm
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This new first-year seminar will be held at Penn’s vibrant literary arts hub, the Kelly Writers House. Meeting each week in this Victorian cottage for a three-hour seminar, attending events together and debriefing about them afterwards, and writing creatively in response to what they experience in the Writers House Arts Café, students will also work closely with visiting poets, novelists, journalists, and other writers and artists giving readings, workshops, and colloquia at KWH throughout the semester. The course will include writing critical and creative responses to live events; writer visits; hands-on workshops; and exploring surrounding arts sites. In addition to producing their own creative work, students will collaboratively curate a public-facing literary event. The main objective of this course is to introduce students to the disciplines of English and Creative Writing by centering the living, evolving textures of contemporary writing. This course is suitable for first-year and upper-level students alike. Interested upper-level students can email for permission to enroll.

English 3010.301
Introduction to Creative Writing: Poetry and Fiction
Ahmad Almallah MW 12:00pm-1:30pm
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This introductory workshop explores the main tools of writing poetry and fiction! Thematically, we’ll be reading a number of different examples to learn why poets such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Sylvia Plath turn to fiction as a way to revitalize their poetic practice, and why novelists such as Herman Hesse and Herta Müller turn to poetry. And we’ll read writers who work in both genres, such as Zbigniew Herbert and Salim Barakat. Students will learn to use the main tools of fiction, such as characterization, dialogue, and description, as well as the forms of poetry, such as sound, image, and enjambment. The workshop also aims at encouraging a philosophical exploration of the border between reality and imagination in the form of writing poems and short fiction pieces.

English 3015.301
Introduction to Creative Writing: Fiction and Journalism
Anna Badkhen T 5:15pm-8:15pm 
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This workshop is an introduction to writing fiction and journalistic writing. We will focus on the main tools of prose writing that are indispensable to both genres, including characterization, dialogue, description, research, and revision. Our resources will be multi-genre—we will look at visual art, music, dance—and global. We will encounter a broad stylistic range of international aesthetic and narrative models, and discuss the narrative responsibility each of them entails. Our guides will likely include Teju Cole, Shailja Patel, Jamil Jan Kochai, Edward P. Jones, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Anne Carson, Ousmane Sembène, Okwui Okpokwasili, Anjali Sachdeva, Binyavanga Wainaina, Isaac Babel. Suitable for beginners or more experienced writers who want to return to fundamentals.

English 3019.301
Introduction to Creative Writing: Sports Narratives
Jamie-Lee Josselyn M 1:45pm-4:45pm 
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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. A key question we’ll ask throughout the semester is: how can storytelling enable us to leave sports better than we found them?  

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 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 Toni Cade Bambara, Roger Angell, John McPhee, Leslie Jamison, Hanif Abdurraqib, Mirin Fader, 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, Simone Biles, Kevin Love, and Colin Kaepernick. And, of course, we’ll watch Rocky

English 3023.301
Introduction to
Creative Writing: Fantasy and Magical Realism
Abbey Mei Otis M 1:45pm-4:45pm
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This class will use two genres of nonrealist writing as an introduction to the core concepts of writing creative prose. We will read work in fantasy and magical realism across the traditions of surrealism, science fiction, slipstream, Afrofuturism, fairy tales, and speculative memoirs, and we will try our hand at creating our own original work in these forms. Core craft concepts—including characterization, point of view, imagery, embodiment, pacing, scene and structure—form the foundation of our study, essential for all prose writing and particularly works of invented worlds and altered realities. In addition, we will discuss concepts such as world-building, entertainment, escapism, wonder, cognitive estrangement, and the grotesque BOTH as vital forces that inform our relationship to the world, AND as tactics to be cultivated through practice. The literature of the imagination comprises a tradition older, more extensive and more varied than the literary realism that is the focus of so much creative writing study. We will find a place in a long historical tradition of storymaking for magical realism and the fantastic. We will also discuss the role of strangeness and defamiliarization as an essential tool for creating work that is resonant and urgent in the contemporary world. Potential readings include: Marlon James, Toni Morrison, Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Louise Erdrich, Shirley Jackson, Kelly Link, Julio Cortazar, Ursula Le Guin, Mary Shelley, the Brothers Grimm, Pu Songling. Students can expect to write frequently and workshop writing by their peers in a collaborative setting. 

English 3025.401
Introduction to
Creative Writing: Writing Asian American Lives
Piyali Bhattacharya TR 1:45pm-3:15pm 
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“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. 

English 3026.401
Introduction to
Creative Writing: Writing Real Science
Weike Wang M 10:15am-1:15pm 
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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. We will read fiction, nonfiction and poetry that have been imbued with science either in the content itself or in the methods.  Each student will have the opportunity to workshop up to 4 pieces (3-5 pages each). Students do not need a science background for the course, though an interest in science, creative writing and craft will prove helpful. This course is cross-listed with Asian American Studies 1226.  

English 3104.401
Poetry Lab
Syd Zolf T 1:45pm-4:45pm 
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There’s a reason Plato banned poets from his utopian Republic: poetry is wild, uncontainable, ungovernable. The poetic is a feral force acting on and in language to upend fixed ideas and categories, ways of thinking and seeing. In the poetry lab, we’ll perform experiments to help you explore and expand your poetic potential. Students are welcome in the workshop no matter what your experience with the poetic has been. You can even be a prose writer or an artist interested in working with the force of the poetic to improve the rhythm, diction, sound, and arrangement of your writing. In this course, you’ll read and respond to a wide range of poetic works, write every week, be workshopped by your peers, and work on a poetic portfolio that is just as wild as you can be. Cross-listed with Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. 

English 3120.401
The Translation of Poetry/The Poetry of Translation
Taije Silverman TR 3:30pm-5:00pm 
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In this class we will study and translate major figures in modern poetry, such as Shu Ting, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Charles Baudelaire, and Pablo Neruda. The curriculum will be tailored to the linguistic backgrounds of students who enroll. If you've taken a semester of Hebrew or Arabic, we'll study Dahlia Ravikovitch or Mahmoud Darwish. If you speak Korean or Russian, we'll translate poems by Yun Dongju or Anna Akhmatova. Through study of the most famous modern poems in Urdu, Italian, Bulgarian, or Polish (to name a few), the class will explore the world through its modern literary treasure. All are welcome, with neither translation experience nor language skills required. Assignments will include an oral presentation and a short final essay. This course is cross-listed with COML 3120. 

English 3202.301
Speculative Fiction 
Abbey Mei Otis W 5:15pm-815pm
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This creative writing workshop will explore contemporary traditions within the mode of the speculative and the fantastic—including Western science fiction, magical realism, Afrofuturism, fantasy, horror, slipstream, dystopia, visionary fiction—and investigate the political and cultural landscapes that gave rise to each. We will discuss concepts such as imagination, entertainment, escapism, world-building, cognitive estrangement, and the grotesque BOTH as vital forces that inform and shape our relationship to the world, AND as tactics to be cultivated through practice and deployed by skilled craftspeople. We begin from the position that content is inseparable from aesthetic, that language is as important to the vitality of speculative fiction as to any other mode of writing, and furthermore that all language is political and thus encodes something urgent about the moment from which it emerges. We will particularly examine how genre, low culture, and nonrealism have been used as strategies for subversion and resistance. We will test the hypothesis that all fiction is speculative by writing and workshopping our own original work. 

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

English 3211.301
Fiction Workshop: Friends and Frenemies
Piyali Bhattacharya TR 3:30pm-5:00pm 
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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.  

English 3253.401
What If It All Ends Tonight: Nontraditional Writing for Young Adults
candice iloh R 5:15pm-8:15pm 
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This workshop-style course explores how to write outside of traditional norms for young adults. We will play with choices we can make, as people or artists, to create tension, heighten emotional stakes, and shift perspective in moments of self-actualization. Through weekly engagement with literature that disrupts so-called classical literary form, we will traverse coming-of-age storytelling that centers curiosity and intention. In this course, we will ask what possibilities lie ahead when we allow a story to lose composure and take an unexpected turn in narrative, thought, or even visual presentation. In addition to practical exercises that build the essential tools of fiction (such as dialogue, characterization, and exposition), we will use pivotal scenes, paragraphs, and sentences from a diversity of authors to discuss writing that elicits an evocative, immersive reader experience. Together, we will learn from provocative, award-winning authors such as Akwaeke Emezi, Tiffany Jackson, Kacen Callendar, Safia Elhillo, Malindo Lo, Jason Reynolds, Sara Farizan, and Elisabet Velasquez. We will close-read others’ work and give each other feedback, working with the narratives that you’ve already created, as well as wish to bring into the room. At the end of the semester, class will culminate with a 2,500-word final project that has been taken through the workshop process. All students will have the opportunity to meet one acclaimed published author and a senior editor from Penguin Random House. This course is cross-listed with Africana Studies. 

English 3303.301
Narrative Nonfiction: The Art of Experience
Jay Kirk W 5:15pm-8:15pm
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Every work of nonfiction is a writer’s attempt to reconstruct experience. But experience can be an elusive thing to capture: a strange hybrid of the highly subjective and the more tangible zone of perceptible fact. How do we strike a balance in narrative nonfiction? For one, we employ the same devices that we already use to navigate our way through the world—that of our senses. The more vivid the details of sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound, the more immersed the reader will become in the author’s re-created world of words. But what of the more abstract, less concrete sixth sense of thought? After all, it is our mind that perceives and finds the subjective meaning in experience. In this narrative nonfiction writing workshop, we will look at craft, literary technique, the mechanics of building vivid and powerful scenes, discuss the role of story-logic, and the importance of hard fact-checking. Yet, the student is also urged to pay close attention to their own internal narrator, and to be mindful of the intuitive (and unconscious) powers at play in their writing. Each week we will review classics in the genre, do in-class writing exercises, go on periodic “experiential” assignments, and explore how the art of playing around with the raw material of everyday life (i.e., “reality”) can make for great and unexpected stories. 

English 3306.401
Writing and Politics
Lorene Cary M 5:15-8:15pm
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Writing and Politics (AFRC/ENGL 3306) is a creative writing workshop that connects you to this year’s election. You will receive structured choice in writing assignments while you wrestle with Big Questions and with issues crucial to new voters, such as climate change, gun violence, Black Lives Matter, school funding, and reproductive rights. Write and publish compact and engaging prose. Create social media posts to go viral. Work on and off campus with partners at schools, universities, and organizations. You’ll practice these and other real-world skills without which even excellent writers may founder: project management, public reading preparation, and a meditative habit of observing—as if the same old, impossible world were born fresh every day. Which it is. If we do the job right, we will amplify the voice of young voters, which older media tends to ignore. If we make it fun to read, look at, and listen to, then we’ll be on our way to creating community—and stealth culture change.

This course acts as an editorial group with #VoteThatJawn, a successful digital and social initiative that since 2018 has been responsible for increasing Philadelphia’s youth vote. It is cross-listed with Africana Studies 3306 and is an Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) course designed to help students become active, creative, contributing citizens of a democratic society. 

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

English 3350.301
Long-Form Reported Nonfiction
Buzz Bissinger R 5:15pm-8:15pm and F 1:45pm-4:45pm (every other week)
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This workshop in narrative nonfiction emphasizes the tools of good storytelling: creating a narrative spine, building a dramatic plot, character development, scene-setting, and use of quotes without compromise of facts. Students must be willing to do reportage, since narrative nonfiction cannot exist without it. There will be heavy concentration on writing assignments and workshopping. We will also read the best and brightest of nonfiction by authors such as Katharine Boo, Lillian Ross, Gay Talese, David Foster Wallace, Truman Capote, John Hersey, and JR Moehringer, and Penn’s own Buzz Bissinger. The course will be challenging but decidedly unstuffy with ample give and take, offered in a style that is unorthodox, distinct, and brimming with passion. This course is taught by Buzz Bissinger, the author of several bestsellers including Friday Night Lights, a longtime contributor to Vanity Fair, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Students who have taken this course have gone on to work at such publications as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Bloomberg, Forbes, and Fortune

The course will meet every other week. Professor Bissinger will be available for one-on-one discussions and always available by email. 

English 3402.301
Guinea-Pig Journalism
Sam Apple T 5:15pm-8:15pm 
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"Guinea-pig journalism" is a term sometimes used to describe nonfiction in which the author seeks out new experiences and writes about them in the first person. The genre can include everything from travel writing, to undercover investigative reporting, to hilarious narratives of unusual self-experiments. Students will be expected to dream up their own adventures to write about, and we’ll critique student work in class each week as a group. Readings will include newspaper articles by the fearless nineteenth-century female reporters who invented the genre as well as essays by James Baldwin, Barbara Ehrenreich, and David Foster Wallace, among others. Questions? Contact me at

English 3411.301
The Arts and Popular Culture
Anthony DeCurtis R 1:45-4:45pm 
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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 choose to write about both the fine arts and popular culture, from music, movies and TV to fashion, sports and comedy. Students will be writing short essays 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.

English 3421.301
Political Journalism: The Presidential Election
Dick Polman W 1:45pm-4:45pm 
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Ben Bradlee, a legendary Washington Post editor, once said that political journalism is “the first rough draft of history,” an opportunity to report and write about the tumultuous civic life of this nation as it unfolds in real time. And it has rarely been as tumultuous as it is right now, with democracy itself on the ballot in the 2024 election. We live in an era when even the very definition of truth is widely under assault. And with the news cycle spinning faster than ever before, we will spend much of our time in this course time feeding off the news as it happens. National politics is a 24/7 staple on streaming sites, social media, and in the minds of tens of millions of Americans who struggle to make sense of the news overload. Political journalists have a great challenge: seemingly by the hour, they are tasked with making smart judgments, supporting their analyses with empirical reportage, and communicating those judgments in clear language. They must cut through the clutter and engage the reader—smartly and often entertainingly—in a climate where journalists are derided in some circles as “enemies of the people.” They must respond in real time to events, statements, and upheavals that could never have been anticipated. The students in this course will be tasked to do the same, writing pieces that will be workshopped in class. We will also get the opportunity to air broader issues: Is traditionally objective “both sides” journalism up to the task of watchdogging the newsmakers in an era when democracy itself is under serious threat? Is it feasible to provide “balanced” coverage of two parties when many members of one party, starting with its likely presidential nominee, have been openly working to undermine democracy? This course, tracking a fast-moving presidential campaign, could not be more timely. Only true “junkies” of national politics—those who follow the news closely, and those who aspire to write about it—are likely to love this course. At a time when Americans are more awash in political news than ever, the goal of this course is to help students master the craft of writing clear, responsible, incisive, substantive, and engaging political journalism—and backing it up with factual research/reporting. The hope is that students can live off the news and develop their “earned voice” via effective reporting, writing, and (most important of all) thinking. 

English 3501.401
Writing and Witnessing
Syd Zolf W 3:30pm-6:30pm
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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 understanding, 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. Cross-listed with Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, and Comparative Literature. 

English 3600
Screenwriting Workshop
401 Kathy DeMarco Van Cleve M 1:45pm-4:45pm Add to Cart
402 Scott Burkhardt R 1:45pm-4:45pm Add to Cart
403 Scott Burkhardt W 5:15pm-8:15pm Add to Cart
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. Cross-listed with Cinema & Media Studies. 
English 3601.401
Advanced Screenwriting
Kathy DeMarco Van Cleve W 1:45pm-4:45pm
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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. Classes will consist of discussing student's work, as well as discussing relevant themes of the movie business and examining classic films and why they work as well as they do. Classic and not-so-classic screenplays will be required reading for every class in addition to some potentially useful texts like What Makes Sammy Run? Cross-listed with Cinema & Media Studies. 
English 3603.401
Writing for Television
Scott Burkhardt R 5:15pm-8:15pm
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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. Cross-listed with Cinema & Media Studies. 
English 3604.401
Playwriting Workshop
Anne Marie Cammarato F 12:00pm-3:00pm
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This course is designed as a hands-on workshop in the art and craft of dramatic writing. It involves the study of new plays, the systematic exploration of such elements as storymaking, plot, structure, theme, character, dialogue, setting, etc.; and most importantly, the development of students' own short plays through a series of written assignments and in-class exercises. Since a great deal of this work takes place in class - through lectures, discussions, spontaneous writing exercises, and the reading of student work - weekly attendance and active participation is crucial. At the end of the semester, students' plays are read in a staged reading environment by professional actors. Cross-listed with Theatre Arts.

English 3652.401
Is This Really Happening? Performance and Contemporary Political Horizons
Brooke O'Harra and Sharon Hayes W 5:15pm-8:15pm
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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. Cross-listed with Fine Arts and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies.

English 3655.401
Writing Class
Ricardo Bracho W 3:30-6:30pm
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Gayatri Spivak has stated, “Of race, class and gender, class is the least abstract.” While materially true, in literary, theatrical, perofmative and cinematic representational schemes, class is often occluded, made permeable in opposition to longstanding economic realities or simply wished away in order to focus on plot and pleasantry. Within this course, students will instead focus their writing on class, whether that be on the middle classes, the bourgeoisie, ruling class, or the world’s majority: the working class. Work on class can take the form of satire or solidarity; expose conflict and antagonism between and within a given class; historicize individual relationships within the history of property relations; focus on finances, wealth, or poverty; portray class ascent or descent. Writing may be in any genre: poetry, fiction, memoir, political essay, film script, play or performance. We will read and view work by artists such as Tillie Olsen, Kae Tempest, Leslie Feinberg, Zadie Smith, Cherrie Moraga, Alma Luz Villanueva, Helena Maria Viramontes, Gary Indiana, Gloria Naylor, Paul Beatty, Robert Altman, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the Dardenne Brothers, Ken Loach, Lucrecia Martel, Bertolt Brecht, Clifford Odets, Adrienne Kennedy, Studs Terkel, Jean Toomer, Valerie Solanas, and the Chicano, Black and Nuyorican Theater Movements. We will develop work in/on class via writing exercises, attend readings, plays and performances both on and off campus. Students will do a midterm presentation of their work in progress. Final projects can be a short story, essay, a suite of poems, a play or film script, a short video, a collection of vignettes or a mélange of these genres. Let the writing of class begin! Cross-listed with Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, Latin American and Latinx Studies, and Theatre Arts.


English 9001
Fiction Workshop
Stephanie Feldman T 5:15pm-8:15pm Online course
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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 Adam Johnson, Kelly Link, Jhumpa Lahiri, Yiyun Li, Karen Russell, Sofia Samatar, 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.

English 9017
Considering Race, Class and Punishment in the American Prison System
Kathryn Watterson W 5:15-8:15pm
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This writing seminar will sharpen and expand our writing, while bringing to our hearts and minds a deeper understanding of the reality of imprisonment in the United States. This system never goes away. This year it is locking up more than 2,300,000 men, women and children—the highest per-capita rate of imprisonment in the world. Even when we know the statistics and watch shows about crime and jail on TV, what do we really know about life behind bars? For a year? Ten years? Life?

As a young journalist, I saw how the criminal justice system was used to suppress Black leadership. I felt drawn to teach creative writing at Holmesburg Prison, to eventually investigate the state prison system, interview prisoners, make friendships, write a newspaper series, magazine articles, and my first book on the subject. For nearly five decades, I’ve observed the human cost of a prison system that connects and damages all of our lives and keeps people from poverty in place.

In this course, we will seek insights in books and stories written from prisoners’ personal experiences. We’ll also read scholars—Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson, Angela Davis and others—who shed light on the historical repetitions and political exploitations.

Guest speakers will include public defenders, parolees, former prisoners, and those fighting for prisoners’ rights and re-entry. Students will gain a more intimate understanding of how the legacies of slavery, racism, the prejudices of class, caste, and misogyny intersect and determine who goes to prison and who does not.

Students will free-write for ten minutes a day, every day, and write personal reflections on readings, films, and guest speakers. Responses will lead to essays or stories that students write and present for class discussion. These key pieces may draw from observation, facts and imagination, and may traverse literary nonfiction, memoir, fiction, or poetry. We will present the best of your work in a reading at the end of the semester.

Also offered as: AFRC 9017 / GSWS 9017 / MLA 5017 / URBS 9017