Course code:



IM - Introductory/Intermediate

Meets the following requirements:

  • HS - Human Studies

Lab fee:


This course offers a deliberate experiment in how we read, hear, respond to, and talk about words: in particular, the words that make a story-which the writer William Trevor has called “an explosion of truth … concerned with the total exclusion of meaninglessness”, or a poem—of which the poet Li Young Lee says, “Somehow, poem-making and person-making is the same thing.” What quality of attention do we give these words before us and what practices does this attention cultivate, with language as its own integrity and with one another? The writers we’ll turn to are interested in imagination and the unexpected, hunger and what feeds or sustains us, objects of value and what cannot be priced, music and memory, where we live and how we carry it and ourselves in the world. Juxtaposing selected short fiction and poetry, the practices we’ll cultivate with their work include reading out loud for pace and tone, as well as seeing and articulating the arc and architecture of the whole. We’ll also commit to collective and individual Words in Time notebook projects where we’ll gather lexicons (what does this word mean, in denotation and nuance?), register lines of significance, identify points of return and patterns for additional critical inquiry, and create springboards for original work in the genres of our focus. Two Words in Time notebook-project conferences (including a critical inquiry for each genre) and two revised springboards of original work (one for each genre) required. Evaluations will be based on attention to language as precision and possibility in every element of the Words in Time notebook projects named above, as well as the words each student finds to see, shape, and discover a choice of revised springboards in each genre, the short story and the poem. Presence (in every sense of this word) in our discussions finding words is, of course, also essential. Please come prepared to read closely, discuss openly, listen well to the text and one another, and contribute to our work finding and attending to words. This class is offered pass/fail.



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