Graduate Courses -- Spring 2014

Time to register for Spring 2014 courses!

ENG 502 Writers on Writing (Course ID# 4660)
Professor John High
Tuesdays 6:30-9 PM

The course will offer readings and discussions with prominent fiction writers and poets as well as writers of creative non-fiction. The guest writers will meet with us weekly during the course of the semester to discuss and read from their work.  The purpose is to give us a chance to interact with and question a diverse range of writers about their techniques and ways of thinking as artists. Students will be asked to reflect on and consider their own writing process: How do you think as a writer? How do these writers expand your ways of thinking and experimenting as a writer? The goal is to explore and learn—in this case, first-hand—from other writers and their books in order to better inform our sense of what it means for you to be a writer today.

In addition to reading at least one book by each visiting writer, students will create weekly writing texts in the form of imaginary letters, poems, autobiographies, or stories that dialogue with the work of each visiting author. These texts will contain questions and/or responses prepared before the writer visits and will then serve as take-off points for discussion with the author. In addition, each student will research the work of one writer and introduce her/him
on the night of the reading. There will be additional writing experiments, which evolve from the ideas and ways of thinking of the visiting writers in our dialogues.

On days when there are no visitors we will read, discuss, and perform our own work. At the end of the semester, you will create a chapbook of your writings, which will include an imaginary introduction to your work written in the third person point of view and which reviews your own method of thinking as an artist.

The following are the writers scheduled to visit:

FRANCISCO GOLDMAN (fiction and non-fiction writer) has published four novels and one book of non-fiction.  His most recent novel is Say Her Name, published in April 2011. His books have been published in 16 languages.  The Long Night of None Chickens won the American Academy’s Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction; his other novels have been finalists for several prizes, including The Pen/Faulkner and The International IMPAC Dublin literary award. The Art of Political Murder won The Index on Censorship T.R. Fyvel Book Award and The WOLA/Duke human rights book award. In France, Say Her Name won the 2011 Prix Femina Etranger. A new book, The Interior Circuit – Two Summers in Mexico City, will be published in July, 2014. Francisco Goldman has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Cullman Center Fellow at the NY Public Library, and a 2010 Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.  He has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Harper's and many other publications. He divides his time between Brooklyn, NY and Mexico City; teaches creative writing and literature at Trinity College; and directs the Aura Estrada Prize (

CHRISTOPHER SAWYER-LAUÇANNO (poet, biographer, and translator) is the author of more than a half-dozen books including biographies of Paul Bowles and E.E. Cummings, and a group portrait of American writers in Paris 1944-1960, The Continual Pilgrimage. He is also well-known as a translator and poet. His translations include books by Rafael Alberti, Panaït Istrati, García Lorca and the Mayan Books of Chilam Balam. His new book of poems, Mussoorie-Montague Miscellany is a meditation on time, place and space. Until his retirement in 2006, he taught writing at MIT for nearly a quarter-century. He lives in Turners Falls, Massachusetts.

RUTH OZEKI (scheduled pending book tour) is a filmmaker, novelist, and Zen Buddhist priest. Her most recent novel, A Tale for the Time Being, is currently shortlisted for the 2013 Booker Prize. She is also the author of the novels My Year of Meats and All Over Creation. Her critically acclaimed independent films, including Halving the Bones, have been screened at Sundance and aired on PBS. She is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She lives in British Columbia and New York City.

MICHELLE MAJOR wrote and also co-directed the recent cinema verité documentary film, Venus and Serena, which has screened at film festivals around the world and was released in theaters in the United States by Magnolia
Pictures in 2013 and now on DVD. Born in Harlem, she started as a writer and television journalist. She was part of the producing team for Peter Jennings’ critically acclaimed and groundbreaking documentary project The Century; at ABC’s World News Weekend she found her niche producing and writing features about race, religion and the urban experience. In 2003, she began working with Diane Sawyer at Good Morning America, where she was part of an award-winning team and personally responsible for producing and writing several shows dealing with national topics, ranging from the 2008 Presidential election to Hurricane Katrina.  She also produced top profiles on international leaders and their nations such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran), Felipe Calderon (Mexico), Hamid Karzai (Afghanistan), Bashar al-Assad (Syria) and President Obama. She has a BA in Psychology and Film Studies from Columbia University and a Masters in General Psychology from The New School for Social Research.

WILLIE PERDOMO (poet) is the author of The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon, which will be released by Penguin Books in the spring of 2014. He is also the author of Where a Nickel Costs a Dime, a finalist for the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, and Smoking Lovely, winner of the PEN Beyond Margins Award. His poems have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, BOMB, Mandorla, and African Voices. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee, a former recipient of the Woolrich Fellowship in Creative Writing at Columbia University, and a two-time New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow. He is an English instructor at Phillips Exeter Academy and has an MFA in Creative Writing from LIU Brooklyn.>

ZHANG ER (poet, translator, and editor) born in Beijing, is the author of four collections of poetry in Chinese, most recently Yellow Walls: A String of Doors (2010). She has six chapbooks in English translation, among them, Carved Water and Sight Progress. Her selected poems in two bilingual collections, So Translating Rivers and Cities (2007) and Verses on Bird (2004) were published by Zephyr Press. She co-edited and participated in the translation of the bilingual volume Another Kind of Nation: an Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Poetry (Talisman House Publishers, 2007). She teaches at The Evergreen State College in Washington . Her books in English translation can be found at

MURAT NEMET-NEJAT (poet, translator, and essayist) is the author of The Spiritual Life of Replicants (Talisman House, 2011) and The Peripheral Space of Photography (Green Integers Press, 2004). His work includes the poems Turkish Voices, Vocabularies of Space, Io’s Song, Alphabet Dialogues/Penis Monologues (a collaboration with Standard Schaeffer). He edited and largely translated Eda: An Anthology of Contemporary Turkish Poetry (Talisman, 2004), and was the translator of A Blind Cat Black and Orthodoxies (Sun & Moon Press, 1997), I, Orhan Veli (Hanging Loose Press 1989), and Seyhan Erözçelik's Rosestrikes and Coffee Grounds (2010). He is the author of the essays “Istanbul Noir” (2011), "Writing The Structure of Escape: The Linearity of the Arc" (2012),
“Ideas Towards a Theory of Translation in Eda, “A Godless Sufism: Ideas on 20th Century Poetry,” and “Questions of Accent” (The Exquisite Corpse, 1993). He is currently working on the seven-part long poem, The Structure of Escape.

UCHE NDUKA (poet and essayist) is a Nigerian-American poet and essayist. A winner of the Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize for 1997, his books include Flower Child (1988), Chiaroscuro (1997), The Bremen Poems (1995/99), eel on reef (2007), Ijele (2012), and Nine East (2013). His work has been translated into German and Dutch. He edited the anthologies, Poets in Their Youth (1988) and Und auf den Straßen eine Pest: Junge Nigerianische Lyrik (1996), and has worked as the first Executive Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Authors (1987-1989), National Publicity secretary of ANA (1992-1995), and Lecturer in African Literature at the University of Bremen (1995-2001; 2003-2007). A graduate of LIU Brooklyn’s Creative Writing MFA program, he currently lives in New York City and teaches at CUNY.

IDRA NOVEY (poet and translator) is the author of Exit, Civilian, selected for the 2011 National Poetry Series and named a Best Book of 2012 by Cold Front and The Volta.  Her first book, The Next Country, received the Kinereth Gensler Award from Alice James Books and was a finalist for the 2008 ForeWord Book of the Year Award in poetry and the Levis Reading Prize.  Her work has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, The Leonard Lopate Show, and Slate, and in The Paris Review and Poetry, which selected her poems for the 2012 Friends of Literature Award.  She’s received fellowships from the Poetry Society of America, the National Endowment for the Arts, Poets & Writers magazine, and the PEN Translation Fund.  Her recent translations include Clarice Lispector’s novel The Passion According to G.H. (New Directions and Penguin UK, 2012). She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University and serves as the VIDA Liaison to the PEN Prison Writing Committee.

ENG 523 Fiction Writing Workshop (Course ID# 4781)
The Art of The Short Story
Professor Jocelyn Lieu (Visiting Writer)
Tuesdays 4-6:30 PM

What formal possibilities do stories offer us as writers and readers of fiction? In this workshop, we will study the short story in its stylistically diverse glory. Craft elements will include voice, structure, characterization, plot, pacing and focus, dramatic interaction, and setting. Student stories naturally will be at the center of our inquiry. In very short incarnations, stories can resemble poems or cross over into the lyrically charged territory occupied by poetry. At the other end of the spectrum, long stories can evoke, in fewer words, sweeps of time on the scale of novels. A course packet of readings, meant to inspire and add fuel to craft discussions, may include stories by Sherman Alexie, Toni Cade Bambara,
Roberto Bolaño, Chekhov, Edwidge Danticat, Lydia Davis, Don DeLillo, Cornelius Eady, Yiyun Li, Gabriel García Márquez, Grace Paley, Mercè Rodoreda, Ana María Shua, Joan Silber, Leslie Marmon Silko, David Foster Wallace, John Edgar Wideman, Can Xue, and Hisaye Yamamoto. Whether you write poetry or fiction, write or want to write realistic, magically real, experimental, speculative, or linked stories—to name some possibilities—you are welcome in this workshop. (MFA students only)

JOCELYN LIEU is the author of a 9/11 memoir titled What Isn't There: Inside a
Season of Change and a collection of stories, Potential Weapons. Her work has
appeared in 110 Stories: New York Writes After September 11, Charlie Chan Is
Dead, The Asian Pacific American Review, and The Denver Quarterly, among
other anthologies and journals. She is currently at work on a novel.

ENG 524 Poetry Writing Workshop (Course ID# 4354)
Wabi Sabi—The Beauty of Imperfection
Professor John High
Thursdays 6:30-9 PM

“There is nothing you can see that is not a flower;
There is nothing you can think that is not the moon.”
― Matsuo Bashō

In this workshop we’ll play with the aesthetic techniques of wabi-sabi and its potential influence & possibilities for our own writing. In its most basic application wabi-sabi represents a training whereby the poet learns to find the illuminating & beautiful in the most simple & natural objects/emotions. The term wabi itself evokes a worn simplicity, aliveness, and stillness in language, whereas sabi suggests a calm & serenity that comes with time and consistent, patient work. How can we make our poems more alive and invigorate their core elements with the awareness of impermanence? The aesthetics of wabi-sabi bring the poet toward the transience of a beauty that is constantly changing, such as the seasons; it highlights the roughness & asymmetricality of things with an economy, austerity & modesty of language; and it challenges the poet to view the nature of things with a sense of intimacy, humility, and authentic integrity in relation to words, emotions and linguistic/life currents. It sees the brilliance of natural things, of life & death, and processes. In language this might be
understood as poetry’s understated elegance in viewing our lives and the world.

While grounding ourselves in a meditation of the line (sure-footed words) and the musicality of poetic speech (that one constant of verse), we’ll pursue an overview of wabi-sabi’s poetics. In an exploration of contemplative practices growing out of its connection to Zen and an engagement of the world through the senses, the breath and the body, we will strive to meet language as it happens, in the moment of its happening, its arising & natural syntax—rather than be trapped in unnecessary thought or delusions of perfection; in this way we will also strive to mediate the line in its changing relationship with unique objects that bring us back to our real world & feelings, rather than unnecessary (& potentially
damaging) distractions, to the poem. This is sometimes referred to as the beauty of imperfection—the perfection of imperfection.

How is perfection only mastered in the imperfection of form? How does the chaos of a poem find structure in the harmony of imbalance? If music is the form of poetic silence & speech, wabi-sabi concentrates on daily life and the immediacy, indeed urgency, of our own life’s connection to the poem. We’ll play with these condensed forms of syntax & sensory impressions, experiment with writing in the present tense, and focus language on tone and setting, body & breath, and an ever-deepening sensory perception in our weekly workshops.

ENG 527 Professional Writing Workshop (Course ID# 6069)
Writing and Style
Professor Michael Bokor
Thursdays 4-6:30 PM

You may be familiar with the rhetorical concept of “style,” and even have your own “style” of writing. A writer cannot choose between using “style” and leaving it out of the discursive event. But what exactly is “style” and where does it come from? What is valued as “style”? Focusing on the role of the English language in discursive practices, this course explores the cultural, theoretical, and practical perspectives of “style” to help you understand fully the relationship between
language, culture, and personality and how these forces converge to define and shape the writer’s style. Some of the pertinent questions to consider include:

i. Is style “innocent” or is it the reflection of the personality, taste, and experience of the writer of the text or the culture of the writer’s society? Is it true that style is the writer in disguise?

ii. Does style exist on its own, independent of the writer? Before the work, in the work, or outside it?

iii. What shapes style? Is it the writer’s purpose and attitude to the audience?

Through various assignments, you will interrogate the functions of style and learn the numerous ways in which writers adapt their expressions (texts) to their purposes. By the end of the semester, you should:

• Develop a high degree of clarity, fluency, and appropriateness in your writing;

• Learn how to appreciate style within the context of genre-specific discourses;

• Use knowledge on style to improve your own writing.

This course is particularly good for students seeking opportunities to improve their rhetorical skills for effective academic, creative, and professional writing.

ENG 528 Seminar in Creative Writing (Course ID# 6309)
Dangerous Women, Desperate Men: A Seminar On Noir Fiction
Professor Jessica Hagedorn
Wednesdays 4-6:30 PM

What, exactly, is this thing called noir? Why does it exert such enormous influence over so many writers, filmmakers, and artists in other mediums? What makes noir fiction distinct from thrillers and other crime fiction, and what can it teach us about the dark side of human nature? In this seminar, we will examine the craft and artistry of such diverse masters as Georges Simenon, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Patricia Highsmith, Chester Himes, James Ellroy, Walter Mosley, Elmore Leonard, Natsuo Kirino, and Manuel Vasquez Montalban, among others. The novella-in-verse (“Desperate Characters”) by Nicholas Christopher may be part of the mix, along with a noir film or two. (MFA students only)

ENG 580 Seminar in Twentieth Century Literature (Course ID# 6308)
The American Short Story
Professor Michael Bennett
Mondays 6:30-9 PM

We will combine a traditional survey of the short-story genre with a couple of individualized (and fun!) units: reading and writing a review of a short story collection, and then reading and writing a short short story ourselves.  Most of our reading will focus on the twentieth century, but we will study the history of the genre from its beginnings to the present day, examining how the form has evolved and speculating about why.  We will consider such questions as: what are the differences between Romantic and Realist short stories?; how might we account for these differences or for the transformation from modern to postmodern fiction?;  and how does the contemporary short story draw on and transform what came before?  Students will write a critical essay or develop a detailed lesson plan about the American short story as a genre, developing an original, well-reasoned interpretation that integrates primary and secondary sources.  You will also read independently one book of short stories by a living American writer and craft a review of that work.  Finally, you will create a short short story and describe how you went about creating it (how form and content came together in your creative process) and what stories influenced you in its creation.  At the end of the semester, you will submit a portfolio containing your best work.  You must submit a critical essay (or lesson plan), but you may choose whether you'd prefer to submit your review or your short short story.  We will read short fiction by some or all of the following:  Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, Charles Chesnutt, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Sherwood Anderson, Jean Toomer, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Ralph Ellison, Flannery O'Connor, James Baldwin, Donald Barthelme, Raymond Carver, Edmund None, Ha Jin, Lorrie Moore, Toni Cade Bambara, Michael Cunningham, Sherman Alexie, and Junot Diaz.

ENG 700 Practicum in the Teaching of Composition (Course ID# 4140)
Professor Thomas Peele
Mondays 4-6:30 PM

We will look at the ways that composition is taught and administered both at Long Island University and throughout the field. We’ll study the history of composition form the 1970s to the present, with an emphasis on the expressivist and social epistemic schools of thought. We’ll also familiarize ourselves with some of composition’s areas of specialization, including queer, feminist, and digital rhetorics. We’ll also study composition’s placement within the institution. We’ll consider our composition program’s goals and outcomes, and think about how institutional expectations and interdisciplinary stakeholders shape composition programs.

Students will write a seminar paper of approximately 20 pages on the sub-speciality or pedagogy of their choice (with my approval), create a one month plan for a syllabus for English 16, and write a statement of teaching philosophy. You’ll receive a response from both me and your peers on your submissions, and you’ll be asked to revise them at least once.

ENG 707 Methods of Research and Criticism (Course ID# 4194)
Professor Srividhya Swaminathan
Wednesdays 6:30-9 PM

Whether you are writing critically or creatively, research skills are an integral part of any writing process. These skills allow the writer to explore fully the topic about which she or he writes; they also help lay out a design for the writing. In critical writing, this design takes on the form of methodology, or the manner in which the research will be organized around a specific method of analysis. This course develops research skills and provides an overview of eight critical methodologies that can be utilized in crafting an argument. The course will focus on the genre of the novel, beginning in the eighteenth century and culminating in the twenty-first. We will examine these novels through strategies of reading; strategies of rewriting; and strategies of reworking to create a sophisticated argument.

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