Curriculum & Schedule

The 2021-2022 program will meet on Wednesday nights, from 6:00pm-9:00pm.

Phase I: Craft and Tradition, September 15th – October 6th, 2021 (4 weeks, followed by 1 week off October 13th)

In this craft and tradition orientation phase, discussions and readings of exemplary published work across the diverse history of the form will help writers understand the essay tradition and their place in it, and the kinds and forms of essays being published today. Also, students will review advanced lessons in essay-craft (structure, form, narrative modes, narrative arc, use of time, description, voice, etc.), to develop a common language with which to talk about craft and how to offer effective feedback to their peers, in preparation for the first workshop phase (Phase 2). Writers will complete goal-setting exercises, write and share short exercises, and will learn about each other’s work. Students will also be introduced to revision strategies and practice giving constructive, craft-based feedback. By the end of this phase, students will select and fine-tune 3 to 5 essays for Phase II.

Phase II: First Workshop, October 20th, 2021 - January 12th, 2022 (12 weeks, followed by 1 week off January 19th, 2022)

Note: Class does not meet November 24, December 22, and December 29.

During this phase, each student will workshop a total of 3 to 5 essays (student’s choice). Each week, these essays will be presented to the workshop (schedule to be determined). Each writer will be given a thorough critique on each essay, with oral and/or written feedback from the instructor and fellow students on strengths and weaknesses, prospects for publication, and suggestions for overall growth areas for their writing, Ongoing discussions of exemplary published work will focus on advanced craft lessons as they arise.

By end of this phase, in conjunction with a private consultation with the instructor, each writer will identify the essay “tradition” or “traditions” in which they place their own work, and develop a list of essays and essayists in these traditions to seek as models and inspiration to better hone their craft. Based on feedback received in the workshop, they will also identify at least 1 craft goal to work on for subsequent phases, and a set of readings or other activities to help reach those goals.

Phase III: Revision Strategies, January 26th - February 9th, 2022 (3 weeks, followed by 2 weeks off February 16th and February 23rd)

In three weekly class wide sessions, writers will be introduced to a comprehensive framework for revision. During this phase, writers will select 3 to 5 essays to move toward publishable quality and begin revising. Students may also choose to workshop one revision of an essay workshopped in Phase II. Students are also encouraged to use this phase to identify the marketplace options for their work, develop a short list of likely publications, consider revising with specific publication in mind, and begin to send out their essays.

Phase IV: Revision Workshop, Publishing, and Career-building, March 2nd - May 18th, 2022) (11 weeks)

Note: Class does not meet April 6.

During this phase, students will present a portfolio of 3 to 5 revised essays to the workshop, with a goal of having at least 3 essays in finished and ready-to-submit form by the end of this phase. Students will receive final feedback on their essays. They will be coached on the process for identifying publications pertinent to their work, receive practical advice on submitting to these publications and building their careers as essay writers, and be required to submit at least one essay for publication. Guest speakers (writer, editors) will visit the program during this Phase to offer their professional perspectives. In advance of the Muse and the Marketplace (April 27-May 8, 2022), students will receive help preparing for the conference and their Manuscript Mart meeting. Students will also share with the class an informal lecture related to a craft issue they addressed in their own work.

At the end of this final phase, in a private one-hour consultation with the instructor, students will discuss their progress in the program, their publication and career plans, and steps for moving forward in their work and career.

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