This menu will include a curated list of HMS courses designated of particular interest and use for BFA Writing students. View HMS course descriptions.
Practice and Inquiry Writing Elective Menus
“Practice” Writing Electives: The Practice menu includes thoughtfully designed elective courses that invite students to develop active understandings of literary genres and writing-related practices not emphasized in the core studio sequence but relevant in the rapidly changing literary world.
“Inquiry” Writing Electives: The Inquiry menu includes courses that are deep investigations into specific theoretical, literary, and aesthetic questions, giving students the opportunity to deepen their understandings of the many fields of inquiry in which they participate as writers, with an emphasis on inclusive study and opportunities to further their creative practice.
**Please note that while four Practice/Inquiry electives are required overall in the BFA, you can choose your four courses freely from either or both menus: in other words, you are not required to take a certain number of Practice electives nor a certain number of Inquiry electives. You should be guided solely by your own interests and goals in choosing from these menus.
Below are the Spring 2020 Menus, followed by course descriptions for each of the Writing electives:
Spring 2020 Writing BFA Practice and Inquiry Menus
**for students currently pursuing the new BFA curriculum
WR 320:01 Screenplay Writing
WR 320:02 Children’s Book Writing
WR 320:03 Journalism
WR 320:09 Haunted Writing
WR 320:12 Content is a Glimpse: Editing the Poetry Section of The Brooklyn Rail
WR 320:14 Advanced Screenwriting
WR 320:22 Graphic Novel II
WR 320:23 Art Writing
WR 320:30 Internship II
WR 325B Prattler II
WR 360:21 Saturday Writing School
WR 320:29 Writing in Response
WR 320:04 Trauma, Play, Experiment
WR 320:05 Latinx Literature
WR 320:06 The Unspeakable
WR 320: 08 Maps
WR 320:10 Sex, Drugs &Rock n Roll
WR 320:11 Reading and Writing the Cult Classic
WR 320:21 Genre-Bending
WR 320:24 Wread Rites
WR 320:26 Rhizomatic Writing
WR 320:28 Writing Evasion
HMS-261A: Intro to Public Speaking
HMS-262A: Introduction to Acting
HMS-300A: Children's Literature
HMS-301B: Modernist Drama
HMS-305A: New Wave Deafness in the Arts
HMS-311B: Detective Fiction
HMS-360D: Introduction to Performance Studies
HMS-404D: Girl in Am Lit/Art
HMS-404E: Photography & Am Lit
HMS-410S: Whitman, Dickinson & Co.
HMS-430D: Psychoanalysis and Art
HMS-431S: Magic, Art, Religion and Science
HMS-431S: Writing about Art and Culture
HMS-431S: Fashion, Labor, Justice
HMS-430S: Postcoloniality & Aesthetics
HMS-440B: Cinema & the City
HMS-440S: Deleuze, Art & Cinema
HMS-441A: Global Cinema
HMS-460S: Walkscapes: (Re)mapping a City
HMS-490A: Electro-Acoustic Music
HMS-491A: The Artist's Book
HMS-492A: Animating Narrative
Writing Elective Course Descriptions
BFA in Writing
Special Topics Descriptions – Spring 2020
WR 320 – Screenplay Writing
1 – Don Andreasen
Wednesday 2-4:50 PM
This course will introduce students to the fundamental techniques of screenwriting. We will study formatting, the use of setting, location, narrative structure, conflict, character development and dialogue. In the first half each student will write short scenes in order to explore and develop various aspects of screenwriting. In the second half students choose one scene to develop into a script for a short film approximately 10-15 minutes in length. Throughout the semester, students will read and discuss their work in class as well as view and discuss various films and topics. The class will be divided into 2 groups who submit their work on alternating weeks. Each script is read aloud by fellow classmates who are assigned their characters by the writer of the script. A discussion and critique immediately follows each reading.
WR 320 – Children’s Book Writing
2 – Peter Catalanotto
Monday 2-4:50 PM
This course will focus on writing a timeless story that will appeal to children and resonate with adults. Through exercises, discussions, the workshop method and in-class assignments, students will mine their lives and imaginations for a story that will enchant and empower children; a story that will inspire discussion stemming from the adult and child's shared experience. Students will discover the importance of brevity, pattern and cadence and how to create writing that supports and enhances images. This course will also offer avenues for submitting stories to agents and publishers.
WR 320 –Journalism
3 – Gabriel Cohen
Wednesday 2-4:50 PM
Do you want your writing to have a positive effect in the world? These days, good journalists are more valuable than ever: they help preserve democracy, defend the environment, champion the oppressed, and help readers gain a deeper understanding of what’s going on. In this class, we’ll read fascinating, powerful examples of journalistic writing, and students will learn and get a chance to practice essential skills, including how to come up with publishable ideas, do research, conduct interviews, write captivating ledes, and make strong arguments. We’ll experiment with various forms including profiles, opinion pieces, and feature articles, and you will learn how to find appropriate venues for story ideas and pitch them to editors. The notion that it is crucial to engage the reader’s interest by making your writing vivid and lively will be fundamental to the course.
WR 320 – Trauma, Play, Experiment
4 – Maria Damon
Wednesday 5–7:50 PM
Trauma and play, two important bases for experimentation, share the characteristic of defamiliarizing the ordinary, the habitual, what we thought we knew. And "defamiliarization" is a classic description of how art changes the everyday. In this class we will explore some of the connections between trauma, play, and experimental writing/art practice: we will read some "experimental" writers, we will experiment with language through frequent writing, and we will share/air these fragments, or other bits of your work reflective of this class. At semester’s end, I'd like to receive not more than 10 pages of wonderful writing/artistic material from each of you: it can be of any genre or any art form. We will also generate at least one text as a group, perhaps multiple texts, through online collaboration or some other kind of collaborative enterprise; we'll check in about this every week. Each student will sign up to do a class presentation on the week of your choice; you may do collaborative presentations; the presentations may take any form except for the predictable (for example, a rehash of the biography of the writer we are reading that week), and the presentations must be written up in a 5-pp paper.
WR 320 – LatinX Literature
5 – Robert Lopez
Thursday 10 AM–12:50 PM
Latinx Literature is an introduction to the writings of Latino/as in the U.S. with emphasis on the distinctions and similarities that have shaped the experiences and the cultural imagination among different Latinx communities. We will focus on mostly contemporary writers, though we will look into the past, as well. By critically analyzing works from a range of genres including fiction and nonfiction, the course will explore some of the major themes and issues that inform the cultural production of these groups, including those that do not engage in what's traditionally and narrow-mindedly expected of Latino/Latina literature.
WR 320 – The Unspeakable
6 – David Gordon
Wednesday 2–4:50 PM
Many people feel the presence of feelings, experiences, truths and intuitions that seem beyond the rational and which we are unable to put our finger on directly. Artists and writers in particular often struggle to fins ways to articulate these realms of experience or memory that seem to escape or be excluded from conventional discourse. Perhaps it is an otherworldly experience, or an idea that eludes rational thought, or perhaps it is a secret truth that has been repressed. Perhaps it is too disturbing or taboo to be allowed out into the light. This course will focus on literature and other artworks that attempt to articulate experience beyond the threshold of what can be directly apprehended or recounted: the uncanny, the mysterious, the terrifying, the mystical, the unreal, the irrational, the terrifying and the haunting: all that which is lost or repressed or simply cannot be articulated through conventional narrative and conventional artistic forms, including works by Kafka, Rilke, Stein, Sebald, Rhys, Fitzgerald, Beckett, Breton; texts by Freud, Benjamin, Bataille; films from Hitchcock, Tarkovsky, Bunuel; visual art and music. Students will be encouraged to explore and experiment with means and methods of uncovering and expressing their own unspeakable truths.
WR 320 – Maps
8 – Samantha Hunt
Tuesday 5–7:50 PM
All truths are suspect as standardization becomes a souvenir from a lost time. So, what becomes of maps in the digital world? What becomes of paper books as computer archives free them from fact? In this course we will work as cartographer-writers, generating new works of writing, maps of the imagination and invisible cities. We will discussthe forces that effect our perceptions of space: fiction, narrative, history, memory, spirit, law, science, math. False documents, chance, manipulation, and getting lost will all play a part. We’ll explore ideas of location/dislocation, inclusion/exclusion as pertains to boundaries, scale and miniaturization in our writing.
Class time will be spent discussing written, visual and heard texts. At each class session a reading response will be collected. Most days, after discussion, we will have an in-class writing assignment. You will have two final projects due – one at midterm, one at the end of the semester. These will take the form of presentations, performances or audio walks of the maps you write.
WR 320 – Haunted Writing: Ghost Stories & Horror Writing
9 – Gina Zucker
Thursday 10 AM–12:50 PM
Ghost stories and horror are different genres, with their own traditions and fans. In literature, they often overlap in technical and thematic ways. Setting, mood, suspense, creepy houses, human fear of the unknown, the unseen, the monstrous, and death: writers of both genres make use of these elements, often to great effect. A ghost story might be a gothic psychological tale (Henry James’s “The Turn of the Screw”) or a contemporary experiment in narrative (Samantha Schweblin’s Fever Dream). A horror story might feature a supernatural monster such as a vampire (Octavia Butler’s The Fledgling), or a heterosexual marriage (Carmen Maria Machado’s “The Husband Stitch”). There are as many ways to write in these genres as there are stories to tell.
In this class we will dip into the roots of both ghost story and horror lit, reading selected examples of the historical, current, and experimental, mostly avoiding the commercial. Exercises and prompts will enhance student compositions in both genres. I will furnish suggestions of publications which accept submissions of this ilk.
WR 320 – Sex, Drugs and Rock N Roll
10 – Max Ludington
Wednesday 2–4:50 PM
Sex, intoxication, physical and emotional pain, trauma, violence, mortal fear, spiritual revelation, romantic obsession. These are just some of the extreme experiences that have fascinated writers and readers since stories have been told. Whether positive or negative, these episodes map the depths and horizons of human experience and give us raw insight into our nature. How do we learn to translate those experiences into good writing without becoming melodramatic or overwrought? Great writers have grappled with that question, and have found answers that we can learn from. Students will be asked to draw upon some of their own most extreme experiences in order to find ways to use them in fiction. Also we’ll discuss the practice of imagining extremes without actually undergoing them. We will read writers past and present, and study them as models.
WR 320 – Reading & Writing the Cult Classic
11 – Eric Rosenblum
Thursday 9:30 AM–12:20 PM
Some books develop passionate followings yet never break into the mainstream. But what makes a cult classic? Is it a brand new voice? Depiction of too-human characters and outrageous events? The presentation of some radical philosophy for living? In this course, students will examine cult classics such as Geek Love, The Secret History, Confederacy of Dunces, and The White Boy Shuffle as they devise and begin to write their own cult classics.
WR 320 – Content is a Glimpse: Editing the Poetry Section of The Brooklyn Rail
12 – Anselm Berrigan
Day 2–4:50 PM
This elective will involve hands-on work putting together the poetry section for three to four issues of The Brooklyn Rail, a free arts and culture monthly published in print and on-line editions. Students will be introduced to the particulars of creating arrangements of work by 4-6 poets per issue, working with submissions and solicited work from a broad range of contemporary poets. We will also take on the matters of layout, copy editing, editorial response, and working within a poetry-specific context that is part of a larger context of visual art and culture rooted in New York City. A side project designed by the class on a one-shot basis may emerge, as well as discussions of other types of editorial projects (books, zines, journals, archives). This course will be led by Anselm Berrigan, who has been the Poetry Editor for The Brooklyn Rail since 2008.
WR 320 – Advanced Screenwriting
14 – Ellery Washington
Tuesday 5–7:50 PM
Advanced Screenwriting: The Modern Three-Act Feature. This course is for students who have a strong story idea that they want to explore in the form of a full-length feature film Class time is divided between screenings, talks and workshop discussions aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of screenwriting and the underlying architecture of a feature film. During the opening weeks of class, we develop our stories by drafting a coherent treatment: a summary of the events and major story/character/emotional arcs engaged by a three-act film. Then we write the actual script for the first act. Clarity of plot/conflict, character development and scene construction, with a heavy emphasis on character as the engine of story, are central tenants for all discussions and workshops. Additional topics include Geography and Landscape (interior to exterior), Image, Scene, Sequence, Plot vs. Character, Dialogue, Motivations and Intentions. All students must have completed at least one SCREENPLAY WRITING course prior to enrolling in this class.
WR 320 – Genre Bending
21 – David Gordon
Wednesday 5–7:50 PM
This course explores genre works that were first considered “pulp” or merely “popular entertainment”—sci-fi, crime, horror, animation, Westerns, and so forth—but have since been accorded high-art and serious literary status, as well as “advanced” work, (literary, high-art, avant-garde, experimental) that draws on these lower regions. The emphasis is on the ways writers and other artists can use these forms, styles, topics to create their work, the ways they cross “genre” lines, combine elements, and blur boundaries between high and low, and on discovering the ways in which it can feed our own writing. Class will combine close examination and discussion of the readings and screenings with written responses and student submissions. Writers include PK Dick, Roberto Bolaño, Muriel Spark, Patricia Highsmith, Chester Himes, Samuel Delaney, Murakami, Nobokov, Patrica Highsmith, Jim Thompson.
WR 320 – Graphic Novel II
22 – Sofi Thanhauser
Monday 10 AM–12:50 PM
The Graphic Novel is a relatively new, and constantly evolving genre. In this course we focus on the Graphic Novels as a contemporary form, emphasizing works produced in the past 10 years both in the U.S. and abroad. As we familiarize ourselves with the contemporary conversation, students will be positioned to enter into the field as creators as well as connoisseurs. Weekly critiques of student work will help students define their style and message, and the semester's work will culminate in a printed zine or published web comic.
WR 320 –Art Writing
23 – Sofi Thanhauser
Monday 2–4:50 PM
Chris Kraus, Susan Sontag, James Agee, and Catherine Millet, are just a handful of the writers for whom art writing has been central. Their art criticism (which we will read, alongside articles in contemporary art publications such as Artforum, e-flux journal, and Art in America) formed a significant part of their oeuvres, shaped their sensibilities, and provided a vehicle for their insights into politics, culture, and aesthetics. This class will launch art student’s own art writing practice, and will culminate in the submission of an article for publication in an online or print art magazine.
WR 320 – Wread Rites
24 – Laura Elrick
Tuesday 5–7:50 PM
To wread, in this case, is to write from the sound and feel of poetry on the tongue. In weekly rituals (designed and performed together), we will spend the first half of class reading a single long work aloud together, for the joy of it, and to experience the kinetics of the thing, to notice its sonic, affective and experiential structures and qualities, and to heighten our sensory capacity toward poetries on the page. During the second half of class, we will write inside the sensory space that has opened up through our wreading ritual, sometimes with a specific prompt, sometimes in imitation, sometimes as response. The texts we generate will be raw and unfinished, and students will be asked to work the material generated in class into a more finished piece for the following week. We will also periodically engage with theories of listening, embodiment, and performance.
WR 320 – Rhizomatic Writing
26 – Cecilia Muhlstien
Monday 2–4:50 PM
In their introduction to A Thousand Plateaus, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, use the rhizome, roots of a plant stem that grow horizontally like a network, as a further concept when its applied to writing communities. They write: “A book exists only through the outside and on the outside. A book itself is a little machine; what is the relation (also measurable) of this literary machine to a war machine, love machine, revolutionary machine, etc.-and an abstract machine that sweeps them along?” We will take this in consideration as we look at the practice of assemblage through various disciplines such as visual and sound arts. How does writing when connected to these disciplines extend itself into infinite possibilities that have as a common denominator an interconnectedness that is at once multiple and moving through the “abstract machines?” What are the avenues of writing in a collaborative space? We may interact with such artists as Chantal Ackerman, Michelangelo Antonioni, Bela Tarr, John Cage, Carole Maso, Agnes Varda, Thalia Field, John Rechy, Anna Kavan, Carrie Mae Weems and James Baldwin.
WR 320 – Writing Evasion
28 – Fulla Abdul-Jabbar
Wednesday 10 AM–12:50 PM
This course will explore writing from those who don’t do what is asked of them. They evade their subjects, their callings, their responsibilities, or censorship. They refuse formal constraints, political restraints, or aesthetic ideals of beauty or coherence. They work around. They work in proximity. We will look at texts on civil disobedience, read evasive love stories, and consider the antihero. We will identify our own sites of resistance within our practice and explore how to engage them. We will look at poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and film by Osama Alomar, C.D. Wright, Herman Melville, Marguerite Duras, Derek Jarman, Jennif(f)er Tamayo, and others.
WR 320 – Writing in Response
29 – Fulla Abdul-Jabbar
Thursday 9:30 AM–12:20 PM
What does it really mean to respond? to give feedback? to engage in critique? This course examines the bourgeoning genre of creative criticism as we read work about art and by artists. We will look at work by practitioners such as Roland Barthes, Glenn Ligon, Kevin B. Lee, Moyra Davey, Adrian Piper, Yvonne Rainer, Johanna Hedva, Jan Verwoert, Sara Ahmed, T Clutch Fleischmann, and others. We will explore ways to stretch expectations of exposition and formal analysis. By wiggling the line between creative and critical practice, students will develop and specify their approaches to criticism and response by situating their writing among larger cultural conversations.
WR 390 – Internship Seminar
2– Adrian Shirk
Monday 5–7:50 PM
At it’s core, this course offers a guided professional exploration while students carry out their first internship and/or independent professional exploration commensurate with an internship. It consists of support assignments and meeting in small discussion groups organized around the students’ individual internship schedules in publishing, media, cultural production and other related fields. The purpose of class meetings is to share experiences, process and discuss readings and assignments, troubleshoot problems or difficulties in their new professional settings, provide (and receive) peer and faculty mentorship, and collectively find ways to make the most of the internship experience — including identifying and pursuing “next steps” toward gainful employment, discerning your core values and how they relate to career/labor, and learning about professional relationship-building.
WR 320 – Internship II
30 – Adrian Shirk
Monday 5–7:50 PM
This course is designed for students who have already completed the Internship Semester of the Introduction to the Professional Workplace Class, and/or for students with significant work and/or internship experience who wish to get credit for an internship at Pratt outside of the usual course sequence. (It effectively replaces the prior policy of allowing students to do additional internships as Independent Studies.) At its core, this course offers a guided professional exploration while students carry out their internship and/or independent project labor. The class is designed around a seminar model with two primary goals: 1) to enable students to get the most out of their own internships; and 2) to foster communication between students about their experiences and the fields they are exploring, so that each comes away with a more nuanced picture of the variety of jobs / professions, experiences and choices available to writers in the current culture and economy. This course does not cover the basic content included in the Internship I (such as workplace dynamics and protocols, and the like) but instead asks students to engage critically with their experiences and to complete specific self-styled projects based on the professional inquiries / excursions they’re undertaking.
WR 325B – Prattler II
01– Eric Rosenblum
Tuesday 5–7:50 PM
This journalism workshop is focused on writing, editing and publishing pieces of non-fiction. Most classes take the form of editorial meetings in which the group discusses students' personal essays, opinion pieces, news stories, and book, art, music and film criticism. Assigned readings from a variety of publications as well as visiting journalists will help students to understand the ethics and process of writing for publication.
WR 360 – Saturday Writing School
21 – Sofi Thanhauser
Saturday 8:30 AM–1:20 PM
The Art of Teaching Writing is an opportunity for Pratt Writing students to switch seats in the classroom, and gain experience as teachers in charge of their very own creative writing course. Students in this course will develop curriculum for, and teach, 10 creative writing classes to a group of students aged 8-13, culminating in a public reading and class publication. The special emphasis in this course is to help Pratt students to develop a teaching practice that fuels, and is fueled by, their creative practice: it is designed for students who are thinking about how to combine a teaching practice with a creative practice in the course of their career.