Fall Term

Course Information

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1. Creative Writing Workshops
English CAJR. Journalism in the Age of Trump
Instructor: Jill Abramson
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Wednesdays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

At its heart, journalism is a truth-seeking exercise based on reported facts, careful collection of evidence from witnesses, and reasoned, dispassionate analysis. The editing and presentation of stories should honor the intelligence of readers and the audience. The journalist is not a combatant in the story. But these time-honored traditions are under assault like never before. President Trump’s declared war on “fake news,” his attacks on the press as “enemies of the people” as well as secular changes in technology and the ways in which the news is produced and delivered have combined to undermine the very notion of truth. The class will closely study the role of social media in spreading information, including false stories. We will chart the rise of a more ideological press. We will spend the semester examining these developments, their effects on journalism, and their consequences for democracy.

Writing assignments will include weekly essays examining the core issues at stake in the battle for the truth, compilation of a narrative based on real documents in the Russia investigation and a major, written exercise where students will propose ways that truth can be preserved and protected in journalism.

Readings will include classics, such as Richard Hofstadter’s Paranoid Style in American Politics, George Orwell’s 1984 and Michiko Kakutani’s new book, The Death of Truth. In class, we will watch the documentary series “The Fourth Estate,” and examine nightly news clips from Fox News, MSNBC and CNN. We will examine the key legal documents in the federal investigation of Russian interference in the election and study how they were reported. There will be guest speakers, including the journalists who cover the Trump White House, the Mueller investigation and new projects promoting truth in the news.

Supplemental Application Information: Please include with your application a letter telling me how you consume news, through social media,websites, video, podcasts or print publications. Please also address why you are interested in journalism and tell me whether you have had any reporting experience. (No experience is required). A writing sample is optional for this course application.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

 

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English CBBR. Intermediate Poetry
Instructor: Josh Bell
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Tuesdays, 6-8:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students. 

Initially, students can expect to read, discuss, and imitate the strategies of a wide range of poets writing in English; to investigate and reproduce prescribed forms and poetic structures; and to engage in writing exercises meant to expand the conception of what a poem is and can be. As the course progresses, reading assignments will be tailored on an individual basis, and an increasing amount of time will be spent in discussion of student work.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a portfolio including a letter of interest, ten poems, and a list of classes (taken at Harvard or elsewhere) that seem to have bearing on your enterprise.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CDWR. Writing the Documentary
Instructor: Musa Syeed
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Tuesdays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This course will focus on non-fiction writing for film, with a primary focus on the documentary treatment. We will discuss various aspects of the craft, including interviewing techniques, research, varying formal approaches, and story structure, as well as ethical concerns in documentary filmmaking. We will examine produced treatments and screen a wide array of documentaries. Students will be expected to perform research, primarily in the field, and identify their own documentary subjects, about whom they will develop a film treatment as a final project.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a 3-5 page writing sample. Screenplays are preferred, but fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and plays are acceptable as well. Also, please write a short note to introduce yourself. Include a couple films/filmmakers that have inspired you, your goals for the class, as well as any themes/subject matter/ideas you might be interested in exploring in your writing for film.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

 

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English CHCR. Advanced Poetry
Instructor: Josh Bell
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Mondays, 3-5:45 pm | TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students. 

By guided reading, classroom discussion, one on one conference, and formal and structural experimentation, members of the Advanced Poetry Workshop will look to hone, deepen, and challenge the development of their poetic inquiry and aesthetic. Students will be required to write and submit one new poem each week and to perform in-depth, weekly critiques of their colleagues’ work.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a portfolio including a letter of interest, ten poems, and a list of classes (taken at Harvard or elsewhere) that seem to have bearing on your enterprise.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CIHR. The I’s Have It: Writing and Reading the Personal Essay
Instructor: Michael Pollan
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Mondays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

In this advanced workshop, we will read widely in the tradition that begins with Montaigne and write essays of our own in a variety of lengths and forms. A principal goal of the course will be to develop a voice on the page and learn how to deploy the first person, not merely as a means of self-expression but as a tool for telling a true story, conducting an inquiry or pressing an argument.

Supplemental Application Instructions: To apply, submit a brief sample of your writing in the first person along with a letter detailing your writing experience and reasons for wanting to take this course.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CIJR. Introduction to Journalism
Instructor: Jill Abramson
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Mondays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

An intense seminar for those interested in understanding the changing role of journalism and in learning the art of reporting and writing narrative stories. The course is intended for those contemplating careers as journalists or because they want a better sense of how journalism really works. Coursework will include two narrative articles that are ready for publication. Readings will include some of the best examples of modern journalism, from magazine features by authors including Gay Talese to multimedia narratives such as The New York Times’ “Snow Fall.”

Supplemental Application Information: The application should include a letter saying why the student wants to take the workshop, why writing and journalism interests them, and which websites, magazines, newspapers and other news sources they read, even gossipy sites like Gawker.  A writing sample is optional for this course application.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CKR. Introduction to Playwriting
Instructor: Sam Marks
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Mondays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This workshop is an introduction to writing for the stage through intensive reading and in-depth written exercises. Each student will explore the fundamentals and possibilities of playwriting by generating short scripts and completing a one act play with an eye towards both experimental and traditional narrative styles. Readings will examine various ways of creating dramatic art and include work from contemporary playwrights such as Kenneth Lonergan, Martin McDonagh, Suzan Lori-Parks, and Sarah Ruhl as well established work from Anton Chekhov, Sarah Kane, and Harold Pinter.

Supplemental Application Information: Submit a 2-4 page sample in any genre. Also, please write a few sentences about a significant theatrical experience (a play read or seen) and how it affected you.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CLR. Introduction to Screenwriting
Instructor: Musa Syeed
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Mondays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This workshop will introduce students to the fundamentals of dramatic screenwriting, including narrative theory and structure, character design, dialogue/voice, genre, and tone. In the beginning of the semester, we will focus on craft exercises, reading produced scripts, and watching short films. We will then transition to workshopping student work in class, and each students will have the opportunity to submit two short screenplays, one of which they will revise for a final project.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a 3-5 page writing sample. Screenplays are preferred, but fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and plays are acceptable as well. Also, please write a short note to introduce yourself. Include a couple films/filmmakers that have inspired you, your goals for the class, as well as any themes/subject matter/ideas you might be interested in exploring in your writing for film.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CNFR. Creative Nonfiction
Instructor: Darcy Frey
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Wednesdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

Whether in essay, memoir or reportage, creative nonfiction employs many of the same literary techniques as fiction: narrative structure, character development, scene-setting, extended dialogue, emphasis on voice and point of view. In addition to workshopping student writing, we discuss examples of the genre by writers such as Virginia Woolf, William Maxwell, Joan Didion, and John McPhee. Assignments include two 10-15 page narratives, an extensive revision, and typed critiques of classmates’ work.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit 3-5 pages of creative/literary nonfiction (essay, memoir, narrative journalism, etc, but NOT academic writing) or, if you have not yet written much nonfiction, an equal number of pages of narrative fiction. Also, please write a letter of introduction explaining who you are as writer at the moment and where you hope to take your writing; what experience you may have had with creative/literary nonfiction; which nonfiction writers and books you most admire; what excites you about nonfiction in particular; and what you consider to be your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CNSR. Narrative Science Journalism
Instructor: Michael Pollan
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Wednesdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

The arc of this workshop will trace the process of researching and writing a single long piece of science journalism: finding and pitching story ideas; reporting in depth and at length; outlining and structuring your story; choosing a narrative voice and strategy, crafting leads and “overtures,” and making connections between your story and its larger contexts.  As a group, we’ll also work as editors on one another’s ideas and pieces. And since reading good prose is the best way to learn to write it, we’ll be closely reading an exemplary piece of narrative science journalism each week. Students will be expected to complete a draft and revision of a substantial piece by the end of the term.

Supplemental Application Information: To apply, submit a brief sample of your non-academic writing along with a letter explaining your reasons for wanting to take this course and describing your science experience, if any.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CPY (001). Fiction Writing
Instructor: Paul Yoon
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Wednesdays, 12-2:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

An introductory workshop where we will learn to read as writers and study all aspects of the craft of fiction writing, including such topics as character, point of view, structure, time, and plot. The first weeks will focus heavily on writing exercises and reading contemporary short fiction. Writers we will study will include: Daniyal Mueenuddin, Haruki Murakami, Jenny Erpenbeck, and Tom Drury. As the semester progresses, the focus of the workshop will shift to creating and discussing your own work at the table, along with submitting a final revision project.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit the first 3-5 pages of a short story or a novel, along with a substantial letter of introduction. I’d like to know why you are drawn to fiction writing and what your goals are for this class. I’m interested in the writers you are reading. I’d also like to know a writer or an artist whose work you admire and why. This could be someone in a different field, such as a painter, a filmmaker, or an architect but the important thing is to be specific about what resonates and what draws you to them. Lastly, I’d like you tell me a place that has meant something to you. How you define place is up to you.

(Note: the only difference between CPY 001 & 002 is the meeting time. If both fit into your schedule, apply to both.)

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CPY (002). Fiction Writing
Instructor: Paul Yoon
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Wednesdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

An introductory workshop where we will learn to read as writers and study all aspects of the craft of fiction writing, including such topics as character, point of view, structure, time, and plot. The first weeks will focus heavily on writing exercises and reading contemporary short fiction. Writers we will study will include: Daniyal Mueenuddin, Haruki Murakami, Jenny Erpenbeck, and Tom Drury. As the semester progresses, the focus of the workshop will shift to creating and discussing your own work at the table, along with submitting a final revision project.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit the first 3-5 pages of a short story or a novel, along with a substantial letter of introduction. I’d like to know why you are drawn to fiction writing and what your goals are for this class. I’m interested in the writers you are reading. I’d also like to know a writer or an artist whose work you admire and why. This could be someone in a different field, such as a painter, a filmmaker, or an architect but the important thing is to be specific about what resonates and what draws you to them. Lastly, I’d like you tell me a place that has meant something to you. How you define place is up to you.

(Note: the only difference between CPY 001 & 002 is the meeting time. If both fit into your schedule, apply to both.)

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CTV. Writing for Television: Developing the Pilot
Instructor: Sam Marks
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Tuesdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This workshop introduces the television pilot with a focus on prestige drama and serialized comedy.  Students will excavate their own voice and explore the structure and execution of pilot writing through a first draft of their own original script. With intensive reading and discussion of student work we will examine elements of TV writing, such as treatments and outlines as well as character, dialogue, tone, plot, and, most importantly, vision.  Over the semester, we’ll turn ideas into worlds and worlds into scripts.

Supplemental Application Information: Prior experience in dramatic writing is encouraged, though not necessary. Please submit a 5-10 page writing sample (preferably a play or screenplay, but all genres are acceptable). Also, write a few sentences about one of your favorite televisions shows and why you wish to write for TV.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CVB (001). Fiction Writing
Instructor: Laura van den Berg
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Thursdays, 9-11:45 am | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This course will serve as an introduction to the fundamentals of writing fiction. The initial weeks will focus on assigned readings—you can expect to encounter a wide stylistic range, from Helen Oyeyemi to Julio Cortázar to Jenny Zhang, among others—and generating new work through exercises. Later in the term, your own fiction will serve as the primary text as the focus shifts to in-class workshops and, finally, to revision.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit the first 3-5 pages of a short story or novel, along with a substantive letter of introduction. I’d like to know why are you drawn to studying fiction; what your ambitions are for your work; and the writers you are currently reading. I’d like you also to make mention of a passage from a work of fiction that you love—a particular scene from a novel, for example, or a line from a short story—and tell me why this passage has, for you, remained so striking and memorable.

(Note: the only difference between CVB 001 & 002 is the meeting time. If both fit into your schedule, apply to both.)

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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English CVB (002). Fiction Writing
Instructor: Laura van den Berg
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Thursdays, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This course will serve as an introduction to the fundamentals of writing fiction. The initial weeks will focus on assigned readings—you can expect to encounter a wide stylistic range, from Helen Oyeyemi to Julio Cortázar to Jenny Zhang, among others—and generating new work through exercises. Later in the term, your own fiction will serve as the primary text as the focus shifts to in-class workshops and, finally, to revision.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit the first 3-5 pages of a short story or novel, along with a substantive letter of introduction. I’d like to know why are you drawn to studying fiction; what your ambitions are for your work; and the writers you are currently reading. I’d like you also to make mention of a passage from a work of fiction that you love—a particular scene from a novel, for example, or a line from a short story—and tell me why this passage has, for you, remained so striking and memorable.

(Note: the only difference between CVB 001 & 002 is the meeting time. If both fit into your schedule, apply to both.)

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 9/4, no exceptions)

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2. Common Ground Courses
3. Undergraduate Seminars
4. Undergraduate Tutorials
5. Lectures with Sections
6. Graduate Seminars
7. Cross-Listed in other Departments
8. Freshman Seminars