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    English Cff. From Fact to Fiction: Finding & Shaping a Story: Workshop

    Instructor: Claire Messud
    Wednesday, 3:00-5:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    In this course, we will explore the evolution of a story from a factual anecdote or incident to a fictional creation. The aims of the semester are to learn to listen to someone else’s story in interviews, and to endeavor to find, from there, the necessary bones for a fictional narrative. What is most urgent? What is most emotionally affecting? What are the details from an interview that stay with you? And from there: what, from a broader account, is the story you are moved to relate? Once you make that choice, how do you do further research, if necessary? How do you select the point of view, the frame, the characters for your fiction? What are the ethics and responsibilities of these choices?

    In these riven and challenging times, storytelling is vital: learning to listen, to engage, and responsibly to relay what we discover. Each person we encounter is a bearer of wisdom and vast experience; so many urgent stories remain untold. How might we, as fiction writers, address reality, without simply writing about ourselves

    Several published writers will visit the class to share their experiences of research, and of the relation in their work of fact to invention. We will read published examples of fact-based fiction, and discuss the authors’ choices.

    The first third of the class will involve preparing and conducting interviews with a chosen subject, and sharing those interviews with the class. The second third will involve refining the story’s arc, research and formal decision-making, and writing a first draft. Finally, we will workshop the revised stories that have emerged from this process.

    Supplemental Application Information: Prior experience writing fiction is helpful but not required. Please submit a writing sample of 3-5 pages of fiction, narrative non-fiction, journalism or personal essay, along with an application letter explaining your interest in this course, any writing experience you feel is relevant, and listing examples of work that moves and/or influences you, explaining why it does.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)

    English Cgf. Genre Fiction Workshop: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Horror, The Ghost Story, The New Weird

    Instructor: Neel Mukherjee
    Wednesday, 12:00-2:45pm
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    The course will consist of two halves. In the first hour of each class, we will be doing close readings of an assigned text (please see ‘Syllabus’), with the aim of isolating some concept or aspect of the genre under discussion in order to take bearings for your own. The assigned reading is obligatory. We will be looking at questions of genre, and at the reasons for the quotation marks bracketing the word genre in the heading. We will also look at the convergences and divergences in the various kinds and modes mentioned in the title of the course. We will be thinking of generic topoi, conceptual underpinnings, imagination, style, world-building, storytelling, resolution, among other things.    

    In the second half of the class, divided into two equal segments of 50 minutes 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 favorite writers; what some of your favorite works of fiction are and why.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)

    English Cns. Fiction Workshop

    Instructor: Namwali Serpell
    Tuesday, 12:00-2:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    This workshop is designed to explore and hone the writing of fiction. We will read and respond to some exceptional published stories in a variety of genres, and each other’s works in progress. We will compose and revise at least thirty pages of fiction—in whatever number, size, and form suit the writer—over the course of the semester. We will also discuss and practice some of the pragmatic matters of a fiction writing career, including giving readings, editorial engagement, and submitting work for publication.

    Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a writing sample of 3-5 double-spaced pages of fiction, and a one double-spaced page letter of introduction about you, your writing, and your hopes for the course.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)​​​​​​​

    English Cafr. Advanced Fiction: Writing this Present Life: Workshop

    Instructor: Claire Messud
    Thursday, 3:00-5:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    Intended for students with prior fiction-writing and workshop experience, this course will concentrate on structure, execution and revision. Exploring various strands of contemporary and recent literary fiction – writers such as Karl Ove Knausgaard, Rachel Cusk, Chimamanda Adichie, Valeria Luiselli, etc – we will consider how fiction works in our present moment, with emphasis on a craft perspective. Each student will present to the class a published fiction that has influenced them. The course is primarily focused on the discussion of original student work, with the aim of improving both writerly skills and critical analysis. Revision is an important component of this class: students will workshop two stories and a revision of one of these.

    Supplemental Application Information: Please submit 3-5 pages of fiction, along with a letter explaining why you'd like to join the workshop, what you hope to get out of it, and what you're working on currently. Please also list your previous writing experience. Your literary and narrative interests are also relevant - what books, films or other artworks speak to you and/or influence your work?

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)​​​​​​​

    English Cfa. Advanced Fiction Writing: Workshop

    Instructor: Neel Mukherjee
    Monday, 12:00-2:45pm
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    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, especially what Creative Writing workshops you’ve already taken at Harvard; some of your favorite writers; what some of your favorite works of fiction are and why.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)​​​​​​​

    English Cmag. Introductory Fiction Workshop: Writers’ Voices

    Instructor: Allegra Goodman
    Section 001: Monday, 3:00-5:45pm | Location: TBA
    Section 001 Course Website

    Section 002: Thursday, 3:00-5:45pm | Location: TBA
    Section 002 Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    Some say that to write well, you need to find your authentic voice.  In this workshop we will explore a different proposition—that a writer can adopt many voices, depending on the situation and the story.  We will experiment with different kinds of narrators, and we will practice writing dialogue as we study the structure and craft of the short story.  The syllabus will include stories by writers such as Franz Kafka, Anton Chekhov, D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Eudora Welty, Tillie Olsen, Raymond Carver, Jamaica Kincaid, Lydia Davis, Gish Jen, T.C. Boyle, Zadie Smith, and Helen Oyeyemi.  In the first weeks of the course, you will write short sketches.  You will then write two short stories which we will workshop in class.  At the end of the semester, you will choose one of these stories to revise and submit as your final project.    

    Supplemental Application Information: Please submit 3-5 pages of prose—either fiction or nonfiction—and a cover letter. In the letter, please share a little about yourself and your interests, why you would like to take the class, and what you like to read.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)... Read more about English Cmag. Introductory Fiction Workshop: Writers’ Voices

    English Cihr. The I’s Have It: Writing and Reading the Personal Essay

    Instructor: Michael Pollan
    Monday, 3-5:45 pm | Location: TBA
    Course. Website
    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 (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)​​​​​​​

    English Cnsr. Narrative Science Journalism: Workshop

    Instructor: Michael Pollan
    Wednesday, 3:00-5:45 pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    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 (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)

    English Cwp. Words & Photographs: Workshop

    Instructor: Teju Cole
    Wednesday, 3:00-5:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    For almost two centuries now, words have accompanied photographs, sometimes to sublime effect. In this writing-intensive workshop, we will model our work on the various ways writers have responded to photographs: through captions, criticism, fiction, and experiments. Assigned readings will range from William Henry Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature (1844–46) to Zadie Smith’s Through the Portal (2018). Students will learn close-looking, research, and editing, and will be expected to complete a “words and photographs” project using their own photographs or photographs made by others.

    Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a photograph and up to a page of text responding (or perhaps not responding) to it, as well as a cover letter saying what you hope to get out of the workshop, and mentioning three books in any genre that have been helpful to your writerly development.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)​​​​​​​

    English Cbn. Creative Nonfiction: Before and Beyond the (Imaginary White) Reader

    Instructor: Joan Naviyuk Kane
    Tuesday, 9:00-11:45am | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 15 students

    Writers of literary, lyrical nonfiction negotiate complex power dynamics with their selves, communities, subjects, and readers. In this workshop we will conduct an intensive study of the craft techniques writing of creative nonfiction, focusing on the balance between the politicization of witness, descriptive detail, and narrative voice. Given that one of the great imaginative allures of lyric prose is that it can invent its audience as much as it can invent its speaker, how do writers of creative nonfiction contend with social context? What are the ways in which we can write and revise lyrically that can allow our work to depart from, evade and amplify the experiential in its collaborations with language, history, and place? We will do some generative exercises and workshopping (each writer will be workshopped at least twice per semester) as well as discussion, of course. Participants will generate drafts, revise new work, and investigate the fundamentals of the genre of creative nonfiction.

    Supplemental Application Information: Applicants are requested to submit 3-10 pages of prose (double-spaced), a 2-3 page cover letter in which they may address how long they’ve been writing seriously, what previous study they have done in literary arts, any additional experiences that seem relevant to their application, what type of direct criticism and revision they are seeking from a workshop, craft approaches they would like to know more about, and discussion of any other writers in which the writers’ craft and/or ways in which the writers’ work has served as a model for the applicant’s own literary ambitions.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)

    ... Read more about English Cbn. Creative Nonfiction: Before and Beyond the (Imaginary White) Reader

    English Cacf. Get Real: The Art of Community-Based Film: Workshop

    Instructor: Musa Syeed
    Tuesday, 12:00-2:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    “I’ve often noticed that we are not able to look at what we have in front of us,” the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami said, “unless it’s inside a frame.” For our communities confronting invisibility and erasure, there’s an urgent need for new frames. In this workshop, we’ll explore a community-engaged approach to documentary filmmaking, as we seek to see our world more deeply. We’ll begin with screenings, craft exercises, and discussions around authorship and social impact. Then we each will develop a short documentary over the rest of the semester, building off of intentional community engagement. Students will end the class with a written documentary treatment and recorded material for a rough cut.

    Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a 3-5 page writing sample of any genre. Also, please write a short note to introduce yourself and the community/communities you might be interested to work with and your relation to them. Include an example of 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. Filmmaking experience is NOT necessary.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)

    ... Read more about English Cacf. Get Real: The Art of Community-Based Film: Workshop

    English Ctv. Writing for Television: Developing the Pilot: Workshop

    Instructor: Sam Marks
    Tuesday, 12:00-2:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    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 (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)​​​​​​​

    English Chcr. Advanced Poetry: Workshop

    Instructor: Josh Bell
    Tuesday, 6:00-8:45pm
    Course Website
    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 (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)

    English Ccfc. Poetry Workshop: Form & Content

    Instructor: Tracy K. Smith
    Monday, 12:00-2:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    In this workshop, we’ll look closely at the craft-based choices poets make, and track the effects they have upon what we as readers are made to think and feel. How can implementing similar strategies better prepare us to engage the questions making up our own poetic material? We’ll also talk about content. What can poetry reveal about the ways our interior selves are shaped by public realities like race, class, sexuality, injustice and more?   

    Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a writing sample of 5-10 poems and an application letter explaining your interest in this course.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)

    English Csgj. Advanced Fiction Workshop: What's So Western About the Western Story

    Instructor: Gish Jen
    Tuesday, 12:00-2:45pm | Location: TBA
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    Is there an identifiably “Western” story? Where did it come from? Would some of our most celebrated authors survive an MFA program today? Are there alternative ways of thinking about fiction? And —most importantly—what can we take away from them? In the first half of each class we will discuss such matters, placing mainstream fictional tenets in cultural context via stories from Alice Munro to Leo Tolstoy to Zadie Smith. In the second half of class we will turn to student work, with each student given three opportunities to share a piece with the class.

    Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a sample story and an application letter explaining your interest in this course. 

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Sunday, August 22 at 11:59pm EST)

    English Cijr. Introduction to Journalism: Workshop

    Instructor: Jill Abramson
    Monday, 3-5:45pm | Location: Barker 316
    Course Website
    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. A writing sample is optional for this course application.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Saturday, January 15 at 11:59pm ET)

    English Cajr. Investigations: Journalism and Social Justice: Workshop

    Instructor: Jill Abramson
    Wednesday, 3:00-5:45pm | Location: Barker 018
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    This advanced seminar focuses on investigative reporting about social justice issues and cases. Readings will cover school resegregation, housing and homelessness, health care and economic inequities, among other subjects. Class members will learn how to use documents, transcripts and other materials in their reporting.

    The emphasis of the course is on investigative writing techniques, story ideas, voice and narrative framing.

    Students will be required to write two investigative articles, one involving a group reporting project and another on an original subject chosen by each student. There will be intermittent, shorter writing assignments. Grades are based on written work and class participation. Guest speakers will include many of the journalists whose articles are included in class reading assignments.

    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. A writing sample is optional for this course application.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline: Saturday, January 15 at 11:59pm ET)

    English Clr. Introduction to Screenwriting: Workshop

    Instructor: Musa Syeed
    Monday, 12:00-2:45 pm | Location: Lamont Library 401 
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    The short film, with its relatively lower costs and expanded distribution opportunities, has become one of the most disruptive, innovative modes of storytelling--and is often an emerging filmmaker's first step into the industry. This course will introduce students to the basics of short form screenwriting, including narrative theory/structure, character design, and dialogue/voice. In the first quarter of the semester, we will hone dramatic techniques through several craft exercise assignments and in-class writing. In the following weeks, students will write two short screenplays. Throughout the semester, we will be workshopping and doing table reads of student work, discussing screenplays and craft texts, and screening a wide array of short films. The emphasis will be on discovering a sense of personal voice and completing two short screenplays (under 20 pages) that the student can produce in the future, if they choose. 

    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 (deadline: Saturday, January 15 at 11:59pm ET)

    English Ckr. Introduction to Playwriting: Workshop

    Instructor: Sam Marks
    Monday, 12:00-2:45pm | Location: Barker 018
    Course Website
    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 Aleshea Harris, Ayad Akhtar, Robert O’Hara, Clare Barron, Suzan Lori-Parks, and Taylor Mac, as well established work from Caryl Churchill, Edward Albee, 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 (deadline: Saturday, January 15 at 11:59pm ET)

    English Cbbr. Intermediate Poetry: Workshop

    Instructor: Josh Bell 
    Monday, 3:00-5:45pm | Location: Barker 211
    Course Website
    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 (deadline: Saturday, January 15 at 11:59pm ET)