Irvine Valley College Online Creative Writing Workshop

Writing 10 - Introduction to Creative Writing

Spring 2012 - Ticket # 64580

Class runs from 1/9/2012 to 5/17/2012

Marjorie Coverley Luesebrink, MFA, Instructor

Reading List


The following are the reading assignments for each week. 

Week 1:  

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock  by T. S. Eliot (1917)

Week 2:  

Excerpt from The Color Purple by Alice Walker 

other recommendations:

The first chapter of "Wuthering Heights" provides another excellent example of character definition -- Wuthering Heights beginning by Emily Bronte. Note the way that the narrator wants us to know that HE is a private person, but not nearly so hostile as Heathcliff!!

Re our "Lyric Voice" of last week, and the poem which has a prefaced note, you might want to look at a perfect example by Samuel Taylor Colderidge.  "Dejection, An Ode."

I don't want to burden you with too much reading here - enough to look at a couple of examples.  However, if you have suggestions of sites we might look at, I can post them here!

Week 3:  

Your assigned reading for this week is the beginning of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.  [You will need to scroll down a little bit to see the displayed pages.  You can't the whole novel from this Google site, but if you have Never read this novel, I do recommend it!]  It's also helpful to remind ourselves of the main things to look for when we are reading poetry and fiction.  

This book is one of the most innovative modern novels in terms of the Time Structures - and Time is our theme for the week.  What I want you to look for here is the way that the narrator sets himself up in relationship both to the story and the time frame.  I will be using this novel as my example throughout the lecture...

Week 4:  

Your assigned reading for this week is a short story by Katherine Mansfield called "At the Bay."  This is a very conventionally-shaped short story, and that is good for us, for we can see the way that the landscape already begins to define the potentiality of the story.  In doing our scene-setting, both in poetry and fiction, we want to remember that the landscape needs to do several things (see lecture).  Be on the alert for the way that this landscape defines the "possible universe."  

Week 5:  

Your assigned reading for this week includes three pieces - a poem by Matthew Arnold, "The Forsaken Merman," and two classic short stories that show how stylistic approaches can differ between authors.  *Occurence at Olw Creek Bridge* by Ambrose Bierce is from a century ago - and while it is a mysterious, elusive little tale, the style is quite traditional.  On the other hand, *Eva is Inside Her Cat*, a stunning piece by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, shows us a very different way of handling mystery and magic realism.  I wanted us to read these as a reminder that styles change over time, and how we think of "style," so often, as a formal imitation of Romantic or Victorian poets.  Style, however, can encompass wide variety of techniques.  Sometimes what we need to do is improve our "own" style and not try to import language and diction from other writers or eras.  See lecture.

Week 6 - 

Your assigned reading for this week brings us back to first causes.  One of the poems which has delighted readers for two centuries is William Wordsorth's INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY FROM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY CHILDHOOD.  Most of us know the words to this so well that we rarely think about the theme, or the "greater truth."  It's about flowers, or youth, or something.  I would like you to read this poem with new eyes, now, noting first who the narrator is and what age he must be in the narrative persona.  I'd like you to look at the setting, too.  And the style.  And, finally, re-assess the theme, using the writing tools you have been honing in this class. 

Week 7 - Extra Reading

There are two assignments for the weekly reading here so that you can contrast two different examples of Third Person Omniscient POV.  In the first piece, Stephen Crane - The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, you will be studying a POV that is told entirely in Third Person Omniscient.  The "view" of the narrative voice is one of bemusement and some distance, as the point of the story is not the inside of these characters, but the changing frontier.  In Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis , on the other hand, we are in a Third Person pronoun story because the narrator can hardly pretend to BE Gregor as an insect.  But very soon, we "move" into the consciousness of Gregor anyway (as Kafka would wish us to do) - and then it seem as though we are in a First Person narrative even though we are not!  Interesting, what can happen with POV! 

Week 8 - Extra Reading

There are two assignments for the weekly reading here so that you can contrast two different examples of First Person.  One is  Edgar Allen Poe's The Cask of Amontillado.  Here we have a narrator determined on revenge.  He is surely reliable: we believe that he does all of these things.  On the other hand, his obsession is so extreme that we can detect the hand of an author persona behind the "I" suggesting to us that there is not all good in this character!  The other assignment is a terrific example of an unreliable narrator.  Charlotte Perkins Gillman, in The Yellow Wallpaper, gives us a woman who seems, at the beginning, to be telling us about a simple vacation - and only as the story progresses do we find out that the narrator "I" is actually in an asylum.  Her insanity may seem perfectly understandable to us, but we know that she is considered by her contemporaries, or at least her husband, as one who needs to be confined.  A terrific and scary story.  They are both scary, come to think of it.  Note the POV which is NOT the opinion of the author!!!!!

Week 9  - Extra Reading 

There are not any good on-line linear print short stories that use multiple point of view, so I have assigned a web page on William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury   and a  Hypermedia work: Fibonacci's Daughter by M.D. Coverley (ours truly!)  Between the two of these, you can get a good idea of how multiple points of view have been used by some authors.  

More Reading  

 F. Scott Fitzgerald's Winter Dreams (from Hudson's Online) is a great piece to look at since Fitzgerald assumes that he has a white, upper-class audience - the kind that would be golfers and not caddies!!  Hypermedia work: Afterimage by M.D. Coverley -- this piece shows how sensory detail can be the suggestion for Default Assumptions.


Enjoy the Magic!

Marjorie Coverley Luesebrink, MFA, your Instructor, is a Professor of English in the School of Humanities and Languages, Irvine Valley College, Irvine, California.

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