Liberal Arts Courses
In this course students explore the elements of poetry and lyric---the relationship between meaning and rhythm, meaning and sound, and meaning and form---through a survey of poems and songs, on a page and stage, in addition to a few opportunities to write poetry. Texts studied will include nursery rhymes, songs, narratives, blank verse, limericks, ballads, sound poetry, shout-outs, slam poetry, and nonsense. We will participate in creative and analytical ways of reading and responding to lyric and poetry through studying some fixed forms (such as ballad, ghazal, and villanelle), exploring what happens when words hit the air, and looking at the close relationship between music and poetry, through the "music" of language and discussion of lyrics and their relation to poetry.
This course focuses on film adaptations of novels and short stories, paying special attention to similarities and differences in narrative technique. Students view various types of film adaptations and consider reasons for changes from the works of fiction. The course emphasizes the challenges in adapting a work of literature to the screen, the limits and possibilities of both art forms, and the techniques writers and filmmakers use to express their ideas. In addition to discussing works of fiction, film adaptations, and the roles of film director, screenwriter, and film scorer, students will have the opportunity to work on their own cinematic adaptation of a short story, including writing original music for the screen. Such authors as George Orwell, Ayn Rand, Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut, Cormack McCarthy, and Vladimir Nabokov will be considered, as well as such film directors as Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Claire Denis, François Truffaut, and Akira Kurosawa.
With an emphasis on the visual elements of cinema, we will explore the creative forces that go into making great films. We will view and discuss one film per week by directors such as Welles, Coppola, Kurosawa, Scorsese, the Coens, Hitchcock, Kieślowski, Fellini, P.T. Anderson, Almodóvar, von Trier, Wes Anderson, David Lynch, Susanne Bier, and Iñárritu. We will also examine visual strategies in short films. While we will consider dramatic structure, pacing, screenwriting, directing, acting, and film scoring, our focus on the cinematography of “moving pictures” supports the concept that film is photography.
In a workshop setting, students will participate in acting exercises and theater games as well as perform character monologues and improvisational scenes. Then, from the point of view of the actor, they will study several play scripts. The final demonstration of their understanding of the play scripts and characters will be the performance of a scene from the play.
This is an intensive workshop (seminar format) in which the student concentrates on the writing of poetry, on the use of metrics and form, and on the use of symbolism and metaphor.
This course focuses on the craft of composing fiction, including narrative design from the traditional to the experimental, point of view, voice, tension and resolution, character construction, and dialogue. We will also discover how student and professional writers catch and sustain their reader's attention. As models for creative writing, we will choose a small number of works by such authors as Jhumpa Lahiri, Raymond Carver, Alice Munro, Tim O'Brien, Ha Jin, Amy Tan, and Milan Kundera. Thinking as writers, not critics, we will read these stories as we read our own: with an eye and an ear tuned to the construction of imaginative stories people enjoy reading. However, the primary emphasis of this writer's workshop will be on shaping student's original short stories. The sessions will be highly interactive, including peer editing and regular small-group work. We will also explore the possibility of students publishing their stories in literary journals and eZines.
This workshop is a scriptwriters' roundtable. Members collaborate on scripts for films (including shorts), one-act plays, or TV. They create stories, characters and dialogue that grab the audience's attention and refuse to let go. Some classes are conducted as writers' meetings for a film or cable series, including role-playing and improvisation. Creative options include drama, comedy, one-man/woman shows, multimedia projects, and composing music for collaborative scripts. As models for writing, we discuss briefly plays and films by dramatists such as the Coen brothers, David Lynch, Charlie Kaufman, Wendy Wasserstein, Wes Anderson, Alan Ball, Edward Albee, and David Mamet. However, the focus of the workshop is on students' original scripts. Completed dramas will be submitted for publication in FUSION: A Magazine of Literature, Music, Art and Ideas.
In this course, students write creative nonfiction, including personal narratives, memoirs, journalism, travel writing, personal essays, and more. Through their writing, students explore their place in the world, develop and improvise personal narratives, and explore voice and identity. Students read and discuss texts written by others while writing personal responses to topics concerning music and other forms of art. The class also explores ways that creative nonfiction may reveal the truth better than objective reporting can, and the ways that memory works on our experiences. Classes revolve around writing, exploring outside texts, careful reading of peers' work, and constructive feedback.
This poetry class is a hands-on workshop that spans a wide range of poetic types, from the most open ended, experimental, contemporary mode—the prose poem—to one of the most compact, formal, and traditional—the haiku. Students will encounter the haiku, a complex tradition that stimulates intense awareness and attention to the perceptual moment. Haiku practice, in this class, is fully contextualized within Japanese spiritual traditions of Taoism, Shinto, and Zen Buddhism. The class includes a treatment of five types of Japanese poetry that unfold from haiku: tanka, renku, senryu, haibun, and haiga. As we explore these forms, Japanese aesthetics are investigated both through reading, class exercises, and visits to the M.F.A's Japanese section. We will explore the way these traditions have entered and influenced English-language poetry from uniquely American versions of haiku in Richard Wright, Nicholas Virgilio, and beat poets like Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouak, to New York School poets such as John Ashbery, and moderns and postmoderns like Henryette Mullens, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Fred Wah, and Forrest Gander.
This course will teach students the fundamentals of journalism and how to apply these fundamentals specifically to reviews and critical analyses of music. Students will write reviews of recordings and live concerts aimed at both professional musicians and the general public; interviews and news pieces related to the music industry, trends, gear, and instrument innovation; and publicity pieces and press releases. Students will also learn blogging techniques, as well as the differences between writing for the web and writing for print.
This course explores the diversity of children's literature both inside and outside our country, illustrating common social themes as well as multicultural perspectives. Content covers Western and non-Western folktales and fairy tales, along with vibrant representations of multicultural and non-Western children's literature, including texts from African American (Carolivia Herron and Christopher Paul Curtis), Indian (Ruskin Bond and Anushka Ravishankar), Jewish (I.B. Singer and David Wisniewski), and Finnish writers (Tove Jansson). The class, through discussion and reading of primary texts and secondary critical sources, will learn to approach children's literature with particular attention to historical, multicultural, and social contexts. Other topics examined include the definition of children's literature, some of the many possible theoretical approaches to it, and the significant role it plays in our lives and our cultures.
In a wIn a workshop setting, students will read, explore, and act scenes from plays. They will present a minimum of three fully prepared, rehearsed scenes—one from each genre of plays—classical, contemporary, and musical theater plays. Students will learn to analyze and dand develop an understanding of the playwrights’ craft as it applies to character objectives and actions.