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ENGL213M - Creative Writing: Experimental Fiction (3-0-3)

Students learn and practice the techniques of creative writing using a combination of lecture, writing exercises and workshops. Using the writing process, students produce finished works of fiction and poetry, exploring and incorporating elements such as point of view, dialog, characterization, setting, imagery and poetic form and structure. Course readings are used for discussion, inspiration and idea development. Peer review and instructor feedback constitute a significant component of the course. Prerequisite: ENGL110XM or ENGL110M. (Fulfills English or Humanities requirement)

The Irish virtuoso of the short story William Trevor famously said “I think all writing is experimental.... I experiment all the time but the experiments are hidden.” In this class, we’ll look at writing that bends reality – and occasionally breaks it – and plays with language, structure, form, and narrative in a wide variety of ways. But this course isn’t only for writers who are striving to be “experimental.” Rather, we’ll explore how innovative and subversive strategies can open up writing of all types, and how all writers benefit from stretching the boundaries of convention. We’ll explore metafiction (which can be traced back to works like The Thousand and One Nights and Don Quixote), surrealism and magical realism, and stories written in the form of menus, PowerPoint presentations, Slack threads, and dating profiles. Whether you want to generate writing that is ostentatiously experimental or hide your experiments in plain sight, this class will give you an array of techniques and opportunities to set them loose.

Some writers we might consider are Georges Perec, Lesley Nneka Arima, Cristina Rivera Garza, Italo Calvino, Lance Olsen, Adam Haslett, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Can Xue, Svetaslav Basara, Kelly Link, Garielle Lutz, Karen Russell, the Best Experimental Writing 2020, ed. by Carmen Maria Machado and Joyelle McSweeney.