ENGL 284B - Autumn 2019
Class Schedule: MW 1:30 - 2:50 BLD 392
Instructor: David Shields
Office Hours: M/W: 2:50-3:30/M/W, walk and talk.
Office phone: 206.543.2247 PDL A-414
We are mortal beings. There is as yet no evidence of god. We live in a hyperdigitalized culture. Art is related to the body and to the culture. Art should reflect these things. Brevity rules.
A sustained argument for the excitement and urgency of brevity; a rally for compression, concision, and velocity; and a meditation on the brevity of human existence.
Participation counts—IT WILL SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECT YOUR GRADE. However, please don’t comment just to comment. Try to contribute judiciously, effectively, thoughtfully, and generously.
Life Is Short: Art Is Shorter—In Praise of Brevity—purchase from UBS or online.
Students will read the book, do the prompts suggested by the book. We’ll do as many of them as we can. Read the whole book on your own, page by page, including the commentaries by Elizabeth Cooperman and me (we are the book’s co-editors). In class, students and I will discuss individual chapters AS WE HAVE TIME. Crucial that you read the book on your own, chapter by chapter as we go and/or all the way through.
In class, students will read aloud their work and critique one another’s work. THAT IS THE CORE FOCUS OF THE COURSE.
Students will learn the virtue of brevity, the key principles of literary composition in general (for novels, short stories, essays, etc.), and the many gestures available to the contemporary writer.
This is not a course in fiction or nonfiction per se. This is a course in prose composition. In how to write. YOU CAN WRITE WHATEVER YOU WANT: PROSE-POEM, ESSAY, FICTION, HYBRID WORK.
QUESTIONS? CONCERNS? REQUESTS? CORRECTIONS?
Exact dates TBA:
Intro to course.
Object assignment, prose-poem, or image becomes metaphor assignment due in class. Read aloud. 100-250 words. The shorter the better. It’s harder to write short than write long. The idea here is to describe something, build in a thematic thread, and have theme “pay out” as metaphor by end of composition.
Lovers’ Quarrel/Happiness assignments due.
Criticism as Autobiography.
General discussion (publication, grad school, brevity, collage, genre, anything)
YOU CAN TURN IN AS MANY REVISIONS AS YOU WANT DURING EXAM WEEK: DUE ON FRIDAY OF EXAM WEEK: Dec 14. PLACE ORIGINAL COMPOSITION(S) AND REVISION(S) IN BOX OUTSIDE MY OFFICE/PDL A414. YOU NEED TO TURN IN A TOTAL OF 10 PAGES OF REVISION, DEMONSTRATING YOUR IMPROVED GRASP OF THE PRINCIPLES OF THE COURSE AND YOUR DEEPENED COMMAND OF YOUR CRAFT AND ART.
ASSIGNMENT: SPECS PROVIDED IN CLASS; DON’T USE ASSIGNMENT SPECS FROM BOOK.