Image of books stacked on top of one another

2020 Spring Courses



Fiction Workshop


Instructor: Imad Rahman
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time: Wednesday, 6:00–8:50 PM
Course Number: ENG 610

This fiction-writing workshop is designed to both help you generate material through a series of exercises and prompts and to provide a safe and vibrant creative space for the work you turn in to be rigorously workshopped. The operating principle here is for us to find that sweet spot, that breakthrough moment that often comes while you’re in the middle of a story that will surprise you, and by extension, us, your readers. I also want to encourage you to take risks, to go beyond your comfort zone, to understand that success inevitably takes numerous detours through failure (as Saumel Beckett said, Fail Better). Our guides for this journey will be two novels (Julia Phillips' Disappearing Earth & Paul Tremblay's The Cabin At The End Of The World) & two short story collections (Nana Kwami Adjei-Brenyah's Friday Black & Kimberly King Parsons' Black Light).

Book 2 Workshop

Instructor: Christopher Barzak
Campus: Youngstown State University
Day & Time: Tuesday, 5:10–7:50 PM
Course Number: ENG 21383

Students will focus on generating 50-75 pages of a prospective book-length manuscript. These books-in-process will be workshopped by all. Novels, novellas, short story collections and novels-in-stories are all welcome to be presented for critique, and we will attend to various questions of those forms in relationship to the types of books students in the workshop have decided to generate. Many students will have been in Book One during the fall semester, and will be continuing their journeys in the generation of their manuscripts, but this workshop is also open to anyone who did not take Book One in the Fall semester, too. 

Craft and Theory of Flash Writing

Instructor: Bob Pope
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: Thursday, 5:30–8:10 PM
Course Number: ENG 666895  02

With the aid of a couple of books of flash fiction or nonfiction, we will explore the reading and writing of very short pieces, under 1000 or 500 words. It’s an art. We will write our own flash to practice what we study. Each student will wind up with a portfolio of at least eight flash pieces ready to submit to online or print publications that love vivid short pieces. We’ll also look at some of these publications along the way. For writers of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry, there are few better ways to work on creating effective language and imagery. How do you leave a reader with the sense of a whole experience, a small truth, or something to savor in such a short space? Once you get the swing of your own style, it’s a small joy.

For permission to enroll in this class, email Catherine Wing at cwing1@kent.edu.



Craft & Theory of Creative Nonfiction: Literary Journalism

Instructor: David Giffels
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Wednesday, 5:20–7:50 PM
Course Number: ENG 3300:689-803

In this MFA craft & theory seminar, we’ll explore the history, aesthetic, ethics, and techniques of contemporary American literary reportage, beginning with its roots in the “New Journalism” of the 1960s, following its evolution in book and essay form, and probing its role in a present world where truth, fact, and nuance are being challenged as never before. Students will read, analyze, and discuss classic and recent works and generate reportage of their own. Readings will include work by Truman Capote, Joan Didion, John D’Agata, Sonia Nazario, Hanif Abdurraqib, and others.

Nonfiction Workshop


Instructor: Hilary Plum
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time: Tuesday, 6:00–8:50 PM
Course Number: ENG 611

This workshop will follow a fairly traditional structure: over the course of the semester, each writer will submit two essays for discussion. A final project will be due at semester’s end. The course will sometimes ask writers to articulate their aesthetic aims within the landscape of contemporary essay writing. How do our choices in form reflect larger values and ethical engagements? How do we create selves and worlds in our essayistic/narrative prose? What conversation do we wish to have with the texts and writing practices called “creative nonfiction” today? Once in the semester each writer will bring in a short outside reading to present to the class. The workshop will assemble itself out of our inquiries into/through/on behalf of the genre. 



Poetry Workshop: A Place for the Genuine


Instructor: Caryl Pagel
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time: Wednesday, 6:00–8:50 PM
Course Number: ENG 613

In this class we will experiment with nontraditional approaches to workshopping poetry. We will discuss student poems alongside author-made “influence collages;” in conjunction with a manifesto, poetics statement, or address to the reader; via “cold reads;” and in tandem with class-composed analytics packets and tailored “writer missions.” We will investigate the most genuine and germane ways of generating new writing with the goal of discovering what kind of feedback is most useful to each student’s compositional process. 

Poetry Craft & Theory: Poetry Saves Lives

Instructor: Dr. Mary Biddinger
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Thursday, 5:20–7:50 PM
Course Number: ENG 3300 689-802 

In this course we will read collections by poets who raise awareness and advocate for social change through their work, while writing our own poems of protest and solidarity. We will discuss poems by Hanif Abdurraquib, Fatimah Asghar, Oliver Baez Bendorf, Erika Meitner, Jillian Weise, and Javier Zamora, among others. Class members will write creative and critical responses to the texts; attendance and participation will be important. Limited to students in the NEOMFA program.



Playwriting Workshop

Instructor: David Todd
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time: Monday, 6:00–8:50 PM
Course Number: ENG 612

This workshop focuses on developing and completing drafts of new full-length plays. We’ll have regular readings of contemporary published plays as well as some exercises and other assignments. However, our primary task will be the workshopping of new pieces that should be taken from the rough draft stage to a state of advanced development. Rather than being rooted in a particular type of writing, this course will involve self-generated projects in all styles and modes.  For permission to enroll in this course, please contact David Todd at d.m.todd@csuohio.edu. 



Digital Humanities

Instructor: Dr. Hillary Nunn
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Monday, 5:20–7:50 PM
Course Number: ENG 689-801

This course offers an introduction to the field of Digital Humanities. The class involves using digital tools to experience literary, cultural, and historical texts. We will investigate how digital technologies shape our experiences of texts and research, as well as how understanding these technologies can lead to new creative and analytical projects. We will consider how digital thinking is shaping new scholarship and writing, as well as how it influences the production and preservation of text. The class will involve several digital projects, but no previous experience is required. Satisfies the NEOMFA literature requirement.

The Female Gothic

Instructor: Pam Lieske
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: Wednesday, 4:25 PM–7:05 PM
Course Number: ENG 6-76895

This course will investigate “female” Gothic fiction from the eighteenth-century to the present, with particular emphasis on the history of “female gothic” literature as well as the psychological and bodily trauma of female protagonists.  Annotated bibliography, oral presentation, two short papers, and one article-length research paper will be required. Readings on trauma theory, Gothic literature, the history of science and medicine, as well as Gothic short stories (Gaskell and O’Connor) and poetry (Shelley, Coleridge) will likely be included.  Readings not ordered through the bookstore will be provided on Blackboard.

American Modernism

Instructor: Robert W. Trogdon
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: Thursday, 4:25 PM–7:05 PM
Course Number: ENG 6/76891

The course will be an examination of American literature in the first part of the twentieth century. We will examine the ways American writers incorporated modernist techniques developed by European writers such as James Joyce, William Butler Yeats and Virginia Woolf into their works, and in the ways they rejected the innovations of high modernism. 

Seminar: Literature, Wisdom, and Social Justice

Instructor: Mark Bracher
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: Monday, 4:25 PM–7:05 PM
Course Number: ENG 6/77104

This course will explore how literary study can develop the capabilities necessary to successfully perform four general cognitive functions essential for wise decision-making, personal well-being, and social justice.  These functions are:

1. Causal/systems analysis: understanding all the multiple and often complex causes of a personal or social problem, including root causes such as social systems and mindsets,

2. Prospection and strategic planning: anticipating and imagining all the consequences, both intended and unintended, both immediate and long-term, for all parties who may be affected by the various possible personal or societal responses to the problem,

3. Social cognition: understanding and accommodating the deep needs and motives of other people, including those who are contributing to a problem and those who will be affected by the various possible responses, and

4. Metacognition: being aware of, evaluating, and monitoring one’s own goals, motives, and limitations in responding to situations and problems.

We will investigate how, based on recent findings in cognitive and neuroscience, certain elements of literary texts, in conjunction with certain pedagogical practices, can engage readers/students in exercising and thereby enhancing the cognitive capabilities necessary to perform these four general functions.


Instructor:  Susanna Fein
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: Tuesday, 4:25 PM–7:05 PM
Course Number: ENG 6/76791

This course will concentrate on the brilliant love poet and comic storyteller Geoffrey Chaucer, and his far-reaching, way-ahead-of-his-time explorations of gender relations (male, female, queer, trans). Primary texts will include Canterbury tales selected from this list: the Knight’s Tale, the Miller’s Tale, the Reeve’s Tale, the Man of Law’s Tale, the Wife of Bath’s Tale, the Merchant’s Tale, the Clerk’s Tale, the Franklin’s Tale, the Physician’s Tale, the Pardoner’s Tale, the Shipman’s Tale, and the Manciple’s Tale. Everything assigned for this course will be read in modern English translation, although work in the original Middle English will never be discouraged. In-class discussions will draw directly on Chaucer’s Middle English, which is not difficult to understand. 

The course’s overarching approach will be, first, to scrutinize Chaucer’s varied approaches to gender and, then, to critically assess what he depicts, how and why he depicts it, and whether his perspectives anticipate modern attitudes, are ethical by our standards, and warrant our attention for their ingenious, often-radical philosophical paradigms. Alongside guided reading of Chaucer’s most penetrating texts, we will read, discuss, report on, and assess classic Chaucerian feminist scholarship of the 1980s to 2000s, supplemented (and challenged) by New Feminism and #MeToo activism of the 2010s. For this class, intensely inquiring minds are sought! 

Scholarly Editing and Publishing

Instructor: Dr. Jon Miller
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Monday, 5:20 PM–7:50 PM
Course Number: ENG 689-805

This course explains the life cycle of books from the idea stage to pub day. We’ll go through and study the main skill sets required for success in publishing. The focus will be on academic publishing, but along the way we will also look at the closely related fields of literary publishing, magazine publishing, and commercial publishing. We’ll learn about acquisitions, series, imprints, peer review, editorial boards, copy editing, book design, proofreading, marketing, and inventory management. We’ll talk about working with freelancers and how to find work as a freelancer. We’ll examine the history of each of these stages in book production. We’ll look at the production schedule of The University of Akron Press and learn how multiple book projects are coordinated and managed. As a literature course, Scholarly Editing and Publishing also teaches textual criticism in this publishing context. Working with the Library of Congress’s newspaper archive, Chronicling America, students will author literary editions for possible publication in the journal Nineteenth-Century Ohio Literature. https:// ideaexchange.uakron.edu/ nineteenthcenturyohioliteratur e/

Studies in Young Adult Literature

Instructor: Stacy Graber
Campus: Youngstown State University
Day & Time: Tuesday, 5:10 PM–7:50 PM
Course Number: ENG 6919

This exciting iteration of ENG 6919 will explore a range of new, nonfiction/informational texts produced for young adults spanning a variety of genres (e.g., collective biography, narrative nonfiction, graphica, etc.), subjects (e.g., art, athletics, true crime, cultural conflict and social issues, science and technology, war and politics, immigration, labor and social class conflict, gender studies, and ethnography of objects), and styles.  Coursework entails weekly reflective writings, a presentation component, and a culminating project, which may be tailored to complement individual academic pursuits such as studying nonfiction in the service of pedagogy or writing nonfiction for young adults.  The overarching theme of the course is the utility of YA nonfiction for catalyzing engaged reading, sophisticated literacy instruction, and authentic inquiry.



Writers on Writing

Instructor: David Giffels
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Tuesday–Thursday, 11:45 AM–1:00 PM
Course Number: English 3300: 557-001

In this course, we will step behind the scenes, directly into the working lives of such writers as Stephen King, Anne Lamott, Michael Chabon, and others to study their motivations, methods, successes, and failures. What makes someone want to become a writer? How does it become a reality? What is the practical and philosophical nature of the writer’s work? And how can we apply their lessons to our own reading and writing?


Instructor: Eric Wasserman
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Monday & Wednesday, 2:45 PM–4:00 PM
Course Number: ENG 3300: 589

This exciting seminar will take students on a serious and enthusiastic journey from the birth of the modern Fantasy genre, through its unfortunate many years of dismissal by literary elitists and snobs, then all the way to the modern Fantasy story becoming a respected artistic form. We will not just explore the classics that encompass the foundation of Fantasy but also timeless gems, overlooked texts deserving respect, graphic novels, and recent selections that have solidified Fantasy being embraced as part of mainstream literature instead of remaining an outlier. The course will not just include written material. Fantasy has a long and rich history and connection to cinema and television. Therefore, visual texts will be a strong component of the class. We will look at how fantastical stories and imagined worlds can at times possibly express more about humanity and our own complex world than a straightforward domestic narrative. Most importantly, students will rethink exactly what they might consider to actually be Fantasy stories.

YA Fiction Writing

Instructor: Dr. Julie Drew
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Monday–Wednesday, 11:45 AM–1:00 PM
Course Number: ENG 3300: 589-802

This course is a workshop for creative writers interested in producing a novel-length work of commercial fiction targeting the young adult market. Students will develop a single project for the course and participate in peer workshops, submitting, and responding to, multiple drafts. Instructor-provided readings, short craft exercises, and class discussion will aid students during and after the semester as they work toward the completion of their novels.



Independent Internship

Instructor: Catherine Wing
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: (Select) Saturdays, 1:00–3:30 PM
Course Number: ENG ST66895

This class is designed to be taken concurrently with (or within a few months of) an independent internship (8-10 hours per week) of the student’s choosing. A student can set up an internship with a local literary organization, publishing house or press, business, non-profit, or school in which their skills as writers are put to use. During the semester the class will meet for a series of seminars that will assist students with preparation of resumés, CVs, cover letters, job research, and interview techniques. The class will meet once a month on Saturdays (from 1-3:30) at the Wick Poetry Center (126 S. Lincoln, Kent, OH 44242). 

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English Department
Kent State University
P.O. Box 5190
Kent, Ohio 44242