student on pratt campus

Spring 2021 


“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 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 by your own interests and goals in choosing from these menus.


The Writing Lives Pathway threads consideration of professional preparation, community engagement, and sustainable, lifelong creative practice across the degree. The pathway begins with Community as Classroom and continues through Writer as Worker (both required courses) and then concludes with two courses selected from the Writing Lives Menu, a menu that includes Internship I and II as well as other opportunities for hands-on community engagement and/or professional preparation. Please consult with the Internship Coordinator/Writer as Worker instructor, as well as with your department advisor, for guidance and approval regarding your choices from the menu. If a student wishes to take a non-Writing class rather than a course from the Writing Lives menu because a select course serves their specific professional goals, they may discuss that option and seek approval for it with the Internship Coordinator and department advisor.

HMS Menu

This menu includes a curated list of HMS courses designated of particular interest and use for BFA Writing students. These courses count towards the HMS menu requirement or towards the post-core SLAS elective requirement for BFA students. View HMS course descriptions

Below are the Spring 2021 Menus, followed by course descriptions for each of the Writing electives:

Spring 2021 Writing BFA Practice and Inquiry Menus

**for students currently pursuing the new BFA curriculum

Practice Menu

WR 320 4: Advanced Screenwriting: The Modern Feature
WR 320 22: Art of the Profile
WR 320 32: Children’s Book Writing
WR 320 16: Editing the Brooklyn Rail
WR 320 21: Graphic novel II
WR 320 1: Internship II
WR 320 15: Journalism
WR 320 3: Politics and Poetics of Translation
WR 325B 1: Prattler II
WR 360 1: The Art of Teaching Writing
WR 320 12: Screenwriting

Inquiry Menu

WR 320 10: Feminist Fiction: Dystopia and magic
WR 320 13: Genre Bending
WR 320 2: Ghosts in the Machine, a Writing Course
WR 320 19: Latin X Literature
WR 320 5: Modern Poetry
WR 320 9: Oceanic feeling
WR 320 8: Poetics of Love
WR 320 6: Prose Interventions
WR 320 17: Reading & Writing the Cult Classic
WR 320 23: Sex Drugs & Rock N Roll: Writing in Extremis


WR 320 4: Advanced Screenwriting: The Modern Feature
WR 320 22: Art of the Profile
WR 320 32: Children’s Book Writing
WR 320 16: Editing the Brooklyn Rail
WR 320 1: Internship II
WR 320 15: Journalism
WR 320 3: Politics and Poetics of Translation
WR 325B 1: Prattler II
WR 360 1: The Art of Teaching Writing
WR 320 12: Screenwriting

HMS Menu

HMS-492A-02: Animation Narrative
HMS-431S-05: Art & Politics of Public Writing
HMS-460S-05: Artists' Sustainability
HMS-400S-01: Benjamin & Arcades Project
HMS-300A-01: Children's Literature
HMS-440B-01: Cinema & the City;
HMS-460S-02: Deep Listening
HMS-311B-01: Detective Fiction
HMS-490A-01: Electro-Acoustic Music
HMS-320B-01: Fiction Writing
HMS-441A-02: Global Cinema
HMS-232A-01: Horror & Monstrosity
HMS-303S-01: Intro to Buddhism
HMS-360D-01: Intro to Performance Studies
HMS-261A-50: Intro to Public Speaking
HMS-262A-01: Introduction to Acting
HMS-431A-01: Modernism and Postmodernism
HMS-305A-01: New Wave Deafness in the Arts
HMS-340B-01: Perspectives on U.S. Lit
HMS-440E-01: Poetics of Cinema
HMS-320A-01: Poetry Writing
HMS-430S-01: Postcoloniality & Aesthetics
HMS-390S-01: Rebel Music
HMS-320C-01: Screenwriting II
HMS-308A-01: Shakespeare
HMS-431S-01: Staging,Space & The City
HMS-434S-01: Studies of Racial Capitalism
HMS-491A-01: The Artist's Book
HMS-400A-01: The Comic Apocalypse
HMS-331S-01: The Digital Body
HMS-490S-01: The Idea of Black Music
HMS-432S-01: The Queer Sensorium
HMS-460S-03: Theater of the Ridiculous

BFA in Writing
Special Topics Course Descriptions
All Courses Run for the full semester.

Ghosts in the Machine, a Writing Course
Samantha Hunt
WR 320 2     online
Tuesday        9:00 AM - 11:50 AM

Do you want to hear a ghost story? What story isn’t a ghost story? How do we write what is un-writable? While the dead are in everything we do, they are also nowhere. Where do the dead live in the technological world? This writing course will investigate questions about the unearthly, the disembodied and the pursuit of mystery in our own writing. We will read both traditional and non-traditional ghost stories that range from the terrifying to the trickster to the tearful. We will write our own new, contemporary ghost stories. 


Politics and Poetics of Translation
Christian Hawkey         
WR 320 3     online
Wednesday  9:30AM - 12:20 PM

In this special topics seminar students will explore how the practice of translation can not only inform but in fact expand one’s writing and artistic practice. We will also read and discuss—through the prism of philosophy and literature—some of the most important translation theorists that have shaped how translators transfer the foreign into the familiar. But what counts as foreign, and what is familiar these days? Can we still aspire to a translational practice that renders, as the German theologian and philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher postulated, one’s own language “to a foreign likeness bent”? What is likeness? And how would we achieve this bending? Does the foreign also sometimes bend? And what if things blend? What might constitute queer and decolonial and anti-imperialist approaches to translation? Students in this class will engage with translation theories in a historical and global context, critically discuss translations of canonical and experimental texts, as well as try their hand at a variety of translational practices themselves in order to begin a translation practice and to develop nuanced insight into the cultural history and present state of the art of literary translation. Note: no previous knowledge of a second language is required.


Advanced Screenwriting – The Modern Feature
Ellery Washington       
WR 320 4     online
Tuesday        5:00 PM - 7:50 PM

Advanced Screenwriting: The Modern Feature. 

Modern feature-length screenplays demand a specific architecture. Advanced Screenwriting is a course for students with a story idea that they’re ready to explore in the form of a feature film. During the opening classes we develop our stories in the form a coherent treatment: a summary of the events and the major story/character/emotional arcs of a three-act film. We do so in a way that allows us to fully investigate the architecture a modern feature. Then we script the first act. Class time is divided between discussions and workshops, both focused on clarity of plot/conflict, character development and scene construction, with a heavy emphasis placed on character as the engine of story.  During the semester, additional conversations/lectures will be conducted aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of fundamental screenwriting elements, with topics that include Geography and Landscape (interior to exterior), Image, Scene, Sequence, Plot vs. Character, Voices, and the Underlying Architecture of the Modern Script. All students must have completed at least one SCREENPLAY WRITING course prior to enrolling in this class. 


Modern Poetry
Maria Damon  
WR 320 5     online
Monday        5:00 PM - 7:50 PM

This course focuses on key poets of the 20th Century instrumental in setting the course for modern poetry, and who continue to influence contemporary poetry. Students read essays and poetry by figures like Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Aimé Césaire, Langston Hughes, Kamau Brathwaite, Amiri Baraka, Mina Loy, Hart Crane, Allen Ginsberg, and will consider the question: What makes a poem modern? Features of modern poetry will be explored in the work of such post-WWII poets as Frank O'Hara, Elizabeth Bishop, Lyn Hejinian and others. 


Prose Interventions
Rachel Levitsky
WR 320 6     online
Wednesday  5:00 PM - 7:50 PM

What are the possibilities of expression in language in the grammar and form of prose? How can a writer write a sentence that reshapes thought, and the very consciousness that forms thinking? How are prose forms historical and social? By dual practice of reading and writing, this class will explore how prose--poetic prose, experimental prose, hybrid prose, prose narrative, prose fiction, prose in novels, novellas, short stories, flash fiction and creative non-fiction (in other words, all kinds of prose)--can operate as a language opportunity that is simultaneously formal enough and flexible enough to give voice to narratives that are under erasure, hard to represent, interrupted, silenced, multiple and out-of-bounds. Selected readings will highlight work that is explicitly experimental, trans, queer, feminist, Brown and Black, hyphenated, translated, immigrant, multi-lingual. Authors will include, among others, Gloria Anzaldua, R. Erica Doyle, Renee Gladman, Gail Scott, Bhanu Kapil, John Keene, Pamela Lu, Will Alexander, Jackie Wang, Clarice Lispector, Lila Zemborain and Leslie Scalapino. 


Poetics of Love
Claire Donato  
WR 320 8     online
Tuesday        5:00 PM - 7:50 PM

 “I dread falling in love,” wrote the poet Robert Duncan. “Falling in love means losing my being. Love exposes us to the first body and to the light; we might even fall in love with what we hate or what hates us.” The Poetics of Love seeks to engage the transformative potential of love—from eros to philia, philautia to agape—and emotional interdependence, while simultaneously considering attachment’s affective underbellies: fear, anxiety, hatred. As we seek to understand our collective social consciousness around love, we will construct new metaphors of it that undermine heteropatriarchy, female subjugation, and interpersonal and systemic violence. 


Oceanic Feeling
Claire Donato  
WR 320 9     online
Thursday      10:00 AM -  12:50 PM

Coined in 1927 by French writer and mystic Romain Rolland in a letter to Sigmund Freud, the oceanic feeling refers to "a sensation of 'eternity,' a feeling of something limitless, unbounded, [...] of an indissoluble bond, of being one with the external world as a whole." This poetics laboratory is thusly concerned with ego dissolution, ecstatic joy, mystical experiences, and the possibility of connection during mass extinction. Our bodies, remark French anarchist collective Le Love Gang, "are never isolated, are always enmeshed in shifting patterns of relations. Scattered across space, our selves form patterns, trace connections ethical but unseen." Throughout this course, we will animate our writing via oceanic affects, conduct magical experiments, and commune in kinship. An abecedarian list of topics we will explore: breath, choirs, critical ocean studies, dancing, eco-art, global climate change, Indigenous epistemologies, love, meditation, monasteries, multispecies others, pain, sex, and silence. 


Feminist Fiction: Dystopia and Magic
Gina Zucker     
WR 320 10   online
Tuesday        10:00 AM - 12:50 PM

Feminist Fiction: Dystopia & Magic is an elective literature and creative writing course that aims to foster an understanding and practice of feminist fiction through reading, analysis and creative writing in dystopian, speculative and fabulist modes.
Of her 2016 feminist revenge fantasy, The Power, Naomi Alderman says, “nothing happens to a man in [my book] that’s not happening to a woman right now . . . if my novel is a dystopia, we’re living in a dystopia today.” Margaret Atwood said something similar thirty years ago about her groundbreaking novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, in which every terrifying thing in her fictional world of Gilead had already happened, in some form, on earth. We live in a time of increasingly extreme ideological conflict, as retrograde white male power rages against a new wave of feminist, Black, and gender non-conforming activism, and our nation struggles to find common humanity on a planet hurtling toward ecological disaster. Contemporary writers respond, as writers have throughout history, to our polarized political landscape, and many of them use dystopian/utopian and speculative styles, as well as elements of fantasy, magic realism or fabulism to tell stories that signal the fears and anxieties of our time.
In this class we’ll read work by established feminist speculative and sci fi authors such as Atwood, Octavia Butler and Ursula K. Le Guin, more recent fiction by contemporary writers such as Alderman, Leni Zumas, Carmen Maria Machado and Samanta Schweblin. Our writing in this class will take shape through creative exercises, workshops, presentations, journal keeping, and longer written projects students wish to engage in. We will watch how current events evolve (and devolve) around us, and respond to this reality as writers, thinkers and artists.


Don Andreasen
WR 320 12   online
Wednesday  2:00PM - 4:50PM

This course introduces students to the fundamental techniques of screenwriting. Topics covered include formatting, setting, location, narrative structure, conflict, character development and dialogue. In the first half of the course, students write their own short scenes. In the second half, they develop and expand those scenes into a script for a 7-15 minute short film. 


Genre Bending
David Gordon  
WR 320 13   online
Thursday      5:00 PM - 7:50 PM

This course is an exploration of genre – crime, mystery, sci-fi, horror and others – and of writers who blur the lines between high and low brow, pulp and art, avant-garde, literary and popular culture. We will consider genre works that were first considered “pulp” or merely “popular entertainment”  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 film screenings with written responses and work-shopping student submissions. Writers and artists include: Simenon, Poe, Lovecraft, Delaney, Ross McDonald, Octavia Butler, PK Dick, Highsmith, Hitchcock, Murakami, Nabokov, Borges, Chimes, Spark, the Coen Brothers and more.


Gabriel  Cohen
WR 320 15   online
Wednesday  2:00PM - 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 our volatile world. In this class, we’ll read powerful, fascinating 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 writing various forms of journalism and you will learn how to find appropriate venues for your 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.


Editing the Poetry Section of the Brooklyn Rail
Anselm  Berrigan         
WR  320 16  Hybrid
Tuesday        9:30 AM - 12:20 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 4-8 poets per issue, working with submissions and solicited work from a broad range of contemporary poets. We will also take on the matters of correspondence, layout, copy editing, editorial response, & working within a poetry-specific context that is local and national, while also 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.


Reading & Writing the Cult Classic
Eric Rosenblum
WR 320 17   online
Wednesday  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.


Prattler II
Eric Rosenblum
WR 325B 1   online
Tuesday        9:30 AM - 12:20 PM

This unique journalism workshop gives students the chance to think broadly about the art of newspaper and magazine writing and to write for Pratt's nearly century-old publication, The Prattler. Most classes take the form of editorial meetings in which the group discusses the upcoming issue of The Prattler and workshops student contributions, often consisting of personal essays, opinion pieces, news stories, and art, music and film criticism.  Assigned readings from publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Vice, as well as visiting journalists, will help students to understand the ethics and process of writing for publication.


Latin X Literature
Robert Lopez   
WR 320 19   online
Thursday      10:00 AM - 12:50 PM

In this class we will take a look at LatinX literature. Most of it will be contemporary, as all writing within any community is a conversation. We will read prose and poetry and hybrid works and as we engage with these texts we will write our own pieces in conversation with authors such as Sigrid Nunez, Justin Torres, Ada Limon, and Judith Ortiz Cofer.


Graphic Novel II
Sofi Thanhauser
WR 320 21   online
Monday        9:00 AM - 11:50 AM

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.


Art of the Profile
Daphne Beal    
WR 320 22   online
Wednesday  5:00 PM - 7:50 PM

In this class students will develop the skills to write long-form articles for print and online magazines. With readings by the likes of writers from Didion and Baldwin to Jia Tolentino and Jelani Cobb, the course will focus on profile writing—of people, places, communities, and cultural movements and phenomena—asking the question regularly: How do you take essentially a static thing and create a narrative arc?  We will look at pieces from magazines such as the New Yorker, Harper’s, the Atlantic, the Paris Review,, the Believer, McSweeney’s, T Magazine (along with some other glossies that have a space for more literary articles), Granta, the Yale Review,, and, as well as smaller journals and magazines. Students will be regularly assigned writing exercises to share, and will work toward completing a long, non-fiction article by the end of the semester.

Sex Drugs & Rock N Roll: Writing in Extremis
Max Ludington
WR 320 23   online
Wednesday  2:00 PM - 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 possibility of imagining extremes without actually undergoing them. We will read writers past and present, and study them as models.

Children’s Book Writing
Peter Catalanotto 
WR 320 32   online 
Monday        9:00 AM - 11:50 AM

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. Students will discover the importance of brevity, pattern and cadence and how to create writing that supports and enhances images. Students will be shown the wide spectrum that children's books inhabit and the deeper meaning a simple story can contain. This course will also offer avenues for submitting stories to agents and publishers.

The Art of Teaching Writing
Sofi Thanhauser
WR 360 21   Hybrid
Saturday         8:30AM- 1:20PM

Pratt's Saturday Writing School is a teaching laboratory that provides writing classes for local adolescents. Depending on program enrollment, each pair of writing major undergraduates is assigned a class of between three and six middle school students. Writing undergrads are responsible for the planning and teaching of a ten-week sequence of writing lessons guided by the theory and strategies presented by the instructor. The instructor supervises and advises student teachers and will visit them in their classroom during each two-hour session. A seminar immediately following each class is a forum for reflection on common issues and problems, both classroom and societal, emerging from the Saturday Writing School experience.