In April of 1951, Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac spent three weeks typing his novel, On the Road , onto a continuous reel of paper, now referred to as the “Kerouac scroll”. However, the novel was not published until 1957, which allowed Kerouac several years between invention and publication to revise, edit, and omit sections from his original work – but the myth remains – when asked on a talk show how long it took to write the novel, Kerouac answered, “three weeks”.
The popularity of MFA programs, the promise of national or international recognition for acclaimed work, and validation of artistic merit, maintain the “race to publish” for all writers – whether they are new, struggling, or resistant to that model. However, this competitive force often contradicts the complex processes that occur in crafting fiction from idea to final draft, and becomes further eroded in the time between publication and legacy.
We may all wish for the writing, publication, and favorable reception of our work to occur swiftly, but most of the time, writing transpires slowly.
Deep In Thought: Advanced Fiction Writing is a sixteen-credit program devoted to the thought and production of developing advanced skills in the craft of fiction. Over the course of the quarter, students will be immersed in the slow work of writing fiction – invention and world building, understanding the discourse of narratology, and practice full-scale revision on long and short works. As a community of writers, we will inquire about: How can we write outside of a competition-based model, embodying writing as a slow and intricate process? What can we learn from the theories of fiction to improve and ground our writing practice? And, as poet and scholar Natasha Saje has questioned, what are the politics of literary evaluation in a product-over-process literary climate?
This reading and writing-intensive program will explore the fictional works of Roberto Balano, Jeffery Eugenides, Joyce Carol Oates, and Ann Petry, as well as some key theoretical works from Aristole, Hegel, Lukacs, Bakhtin, Barthes, Kristeva, Gates, Jr. and others. This program expects that students have taken and succeed in Foundations of Literary Arts and Studies, or the equivalent, and have significant experience in composing fictional works within the academy.
Students should have taken Foundations of Literary Arts or have equivalent coursework demonstrating successful skill building in critical and close reading, library research, critical and creative writing, and collaboration in teams.
Course Reference Numbers
Literature, creative writing, general humanities