Spring Term

Course Information

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1. Creative Writing Workshops
English Cafr. Advanced Fiction Writing
Instructor: Claire Messud

Thursdays, 4-7 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

Intended for students with prior fiction-writing and workshop experience, this course will concentrate on the structure, execution and revision of short fiction. Throughout the term, we will read and discuss literary fiction from a craft perspective. The course is primarily focused on the discussion of student work, with the aim of improving both writerly skills and critical analysis. Revision is an important component of this class.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit 3-5 pages of prose fiction, along with a substantive letter of introduction. I’d like to know why you’re interested in the course; what experience you’ve had writing, both in previous workshops and independently; what your literary goals and ambitions are. Please tell me about some of your favorite narratives – fiction, non-fiction, film, etc: why they move you, and what you learn from them.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Cajr. Advanced Journalism: Investigative Reporting
Instructor: Jill Abramson

Wednesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

A writing workshop focusing on investigative reporting. Course will focus on how to use data and documents to create compelling narratives. Using case studies, students learn how journalism holds power accountable from Watergate to the Trump era.

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 investigative 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 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Calr. Dramatic Screenwriting II
Instructor: Mark Poirier

Tuesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

We’ll examine films and screenplays in order to develop the skills necessary to write the first draft of a feature-length script. We’ll begin by honing our treatments and outlines, and move on to critiquing specific scenes in our own work and in produced screenplays, with a rigorous focus on character, dialogue, tone, structure, plot, and voice.

Supplemental Application Information: In your letter of application, please answer the following questions:

What creative writing or film courses have you taken at Harvard or elsewhere?

Describe in one paragraph the film you’d like to write this semester.

As a writing example, please include what you consider to be the best scene you’ve ever written. It doesn’t matter if it’s one page or ten. If you want to include a few scenes, that’s fine, but limit your submission to ten pages (correctly formatted).

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Camr. Advanced Playwriting
Instructor: Sam Marks

Tuesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This workshop is a continued exploration of writing for the stage. Students will be encouraged to excavate their own voice in playwriting. They will examine and attempt multiple narrative strategies and dialogue techniques. They will bolster their craft of playwriting through generating short scripts and a completed one act. Readings will include significant contributors to the theatrical form such as Ibsen and Beckett as well as contemporary dramatists such as Annie Baker, Caryl Churchill and Sam Shepard.

Supplemental Application Information: Prior experience in writing the dramatic form is strongly encouraged. Please submit a 5-10 page writing sample (preferably a play or screenplay, but all genres are acceptable). 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 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Capr. Poetry
Instructor: Jorie Graham

Wednesdays, 4-7 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

Open by application to both undergraduates and graduates. Class lasts 3 hours and includes the study of poetic practice in conjunction with the 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 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Cbbr. Intermediate Poetry
Instructor: Josh Bell

Tuesdays, 1-4 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 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Cfmr. Fiction Writing
Instructor: Claire Messud

Wednesdays, 4-7 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

An introductory fiction workshop, in which students will explore elements of craft such as character, point of view, setting, detail, style, etc. The first weeks will be devoted to fiction readings (TBA) and creative exercises; most of the semester will be spent workshopping student fiction. The final project involves significant revision of a story.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit 3-5 pages of creative writing in prose (fiction is preferable, but non-fiction is also fine) along with a substantive letter of introduction. I’d like to know why you’re interested in writing fiction, and in this course; what experience you’ve had writing; what some of your favorite narratives are and why.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Chcr. Advanced Poetry
Instructor: Josh Bell

Mondays, 4-7 pm | Location: 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 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Cijr. Introduction to Journalism
Instructor: Jill Abramson

Mondays, 1-4 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 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Ckr. Introduction to Playwriting
Instructor: Sam Marks

Mondays, 4-7 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 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Clr. Dramatic Screenwriting I
Instructor: Mark Poirier

Mondays, 4-7 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

This class introduces the screenplay, from the Hollywood blockbuster to the indie sleeper. Students will learn the basics of screenwriting by reading scripts and viewing the resulting films, focusing on dramatic structure, character development, tone, dialogue, and the other aspects of film determined by the writer. Students will develop their own feature-length screenplays-which we’ll workshop from the earliest stages-and finish the semester with a first act and the tools, knowledge, and skills necessary to continue screenwriting.

Supplemental Application Information: In your letter of application, please answer the following questions:

  1. What are your five favorite films from the last ten years?
  2. What do you consider the worst film you’ve seen in a theater? In a few sentences, explain why you think it was the worst.
  3. Have you taken any film-related courses at Harvard or anywhere else?
  4. Briefly explain why you’d like to take this course.

The writing sample should showcase your story-telling abilities and your writing voice. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry and dramatic writing are all acceptable. Please limit your sample to five pages. Excerpts are fine—please indicate them as such.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Cnfr. Creative Nonfiction
Instructor: Darcy Frey

Wednesdays, 4-7 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: TBA

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Cnm (001): Introduction to Fiction

Instructor: Neel Mukherjee

Tuesdays: 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

The course will consist of two halves. In the first hour of each class, we will be doing close readings of an assigned text (TBA), with the aim of isolating some aspect of the craft of writing in order to take bearings for your own. In the second half of the class, divided into two equal segments of an hour each, we will be workshopping the writing of two students. Our goal is for each of you to have two turns, and approximately 5-10,000 words of your work critiqued, by the time semester ends. The final project involves significant redrafting of a story or a portion of a novel.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit 3-5 pages of creative writing in prose (fiction is preferable, but non-fiction is also fine) along with a substantive letter of introduction in which you write about why you’re interested in this course; what experience you’ve had writing; some of your favourite writers; what some of your favorite works of fiction are and why.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Cnm (002): Introduction to Fiction

Instructor: Neel Mukherjee

Wednesdays: 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

The course will consist of two halves. In the first hour of each class, we will be doing close readings of an assigned text (TBA), with the aim of isolating some aspect of the craft of writing in order to take bearings for your own. In the second half of the class, divided into two equal segments of an hour each, we will be workshopping the writing of two students. Our goal is for each of you to have two turns, and approximately 5-10,000 words of your work critiqued, by the time semester ends. The final project involves significant redrafting of a story or a portion of a novel.

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit 3-5 pages of creative writing in prose (fiction is preferable, but non-fiction is also fine) along with a substantive letter of introduction in which you write about why you’re interested in this course; what experience you’ve had writing; some of your favourite writers; what some of your favorite works of fiction are and why.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Cpwr. Poetry
Instructor: Jorie Graham

Tuesdays, 1-4 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

Open by application to both undergraduates and graduates. Class includes the discussion of literary texts as well as work written by students.

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 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Cpy. Fiction Writing
Instructor: Paul Yoon

Wednesdays, 1-4 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.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Cvb. Fiction Writing
Instructor: Laura van den Berg

Thursdays, 1-4 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 works by Edward P. Jones, Helen Oyeyemi, Joy Williams, Yoko Ogawa, and others—and short exercises. The readings will give us a lens through which to explore character, structure, time, point of view, etc, and will inform the workshop dialogues that follow. Later in the term, your own fiction will serve as the primary text as the focus shifts to the creation and revision of original work.

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.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, no exceptions)

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English Cvr. Fiction Writing
Instructor: Jamaica Kincaid

Wednesdays, 3-6 pm | Location: TBA

Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

A seminar/workshop. Readings include Bruno Schultz, Jean Toomer, Robert Walser, and Rimbaud’s Illuminations, among others.

Supplemental Application Information: The letter of application should address autobiography: tell me something about yourself. It can be revealing or completely opaque. An example of the opaque: describe a tree, a sunny day, or a favorite hat in 300 words or less. An example of the revealing could be: I am one of those people who think all mammals with hair growing in places not easily revealed when they are standing right in front of you, should shave those areas. Please also submit 3-5 pages of prose fiction.

Apply via Submittable (by 11:59pm on 1/22, 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