ENGL 384 A: The Craft of Prose

Meeting Time: 
MW 1:30pm - 2:50pm
LOW 114
Photo of David Shields
David Shields

Syllabus Description:

ENGL 384 A - Winter 2019 - 

Meeting Schedule:  MW   130-250     LOW 114

Instructor:   David Shields   dshields@davidshields.com   206-543-2247

Course Description: 

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.

We are mortal beings. There is no evidence yet 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.

Students will read the book and 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 time allows. It’s 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, personal essay, fiction, graphic novel, graphic memoir, hybrid work.

In addition to the approximately ten pages of brief assignments you’ll turn in during the ten weeks of the course yourself, you’ll turn in a total of 10 pages of revision on Friday of exam week, demonstrating your improved grasp of the principles of the course and your deepened command of your craft and art.

David Shields/Elizabeth Cooperman, Life Is Short—Art Is Shorter: In Praise of Brevity 0989360458

Catalog Description: 
Intensive study of various aspects of the craft of fiction or creative nonfiction. Readings in contemporary prose and writing using emulation and imitation. Prerequisite: ENGL 283; ENGL 284.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 11:10pm