HUMA E-101 Proseminar: Elements of the Writer's Craft
Fall term 2017 CRN 15449Section 1
Francine Prose, in her book Reading Like a Writer, observes that historically "writers learned by reading the work of their predecessors." In other words, we cannot write well if we do not know how to read well. The focus of this course is to teach prose writers how to read well. Students explore the potential and possibilities of different approaches to writing, and, by the end of the course, apply their close reading to their own fiction and nonfiction. This is an intensive course in the craft and analysis of prose from a writer's perspective. The goal of this course is to build a deep understanding of key elements of craft through close reading and textual analysis of the work of master prose writers. We analyze the work of these writers, discussing how they employ structure, character, setting, dialogue, point of view, and other aspects of craft. We study predecessors and the living authors who they have inspired, possibly including work by Karen Russell, Ben Fountain, Lydia Davis, Maile Meloy, and Anthony Doerr. Students write critically and creatively, both in class and out of class, about the works under discussion and about possible applications to their own creative writing. Students examine the conscious choices about craft that published writers make in order to fully realize a piece of writing. Students also select a single author or work to focus their analysis on, culminating in a final project that combines an essay analyzing the author's craft choices with a short sample of their own creative work that puts these master techniques to use.