Experiments in Text

Fall 2019
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 25
4 Credits per quarter
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In what sense is creative writing an experiment? For one thing, writing is a process of discovery—it is not inert. “When it enters into an experience,” Joan Retallack asserts, it changes that experience, “creating a new, textual reality.” In that spirit, this course will explore the variety of ways we acquire new kinds of knowledge by writing—where, Retallack reminds us, the process of writing and process of scientific experimentation are not as different as we may think. Our work in this language laboratory will involve continually testing out our instrumentation (our senses), while remaining open to the possibility of getting results that surprise us. The focus will be on building fundamental writing skills that can be applied across academic disciplines, but we will do so by posing difficult questions about written forms in relation to the social worlds from which they emerge. We will study various modes of creative writing, including poetry, prose, and performance, and will read works by authors such as Gertrude Stein, Robert Duncan, and Cecilia Vicuna. Throughout the quarter, students will practice writing by composing a weekly short “experimental mini-essay” engaging with these works, as well as the work of their peers; other written assignments will invite students to experiment with the various creative forms they have been studying, such as writing poems or short fiction. In other words, this course will provide structured opportunities for connecting our work to the work of other writers, and to the social and political spheres that influence how and why we write—we’ll practice tuning in, as poet CAConrad urges, to “the creative viability of everything around us.”


Fall 2019 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

(4): 10074

Academic details

Preparatory For

Arts, activism, graduate study

Maximum Enrollment
Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
Class Standing


In Person or Remote
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

SEM 2 E2105 - Workshop