Image of books stacked on top of one another

Spring 2024 Courses

Registration for core NEOMFA courses (workshops, craft and theory courses, MFA literature courses, and the internship) is now open. See details for registering on the NEOMFA registration page.

We will publish recommended electives and literature courses across all four universities, but this is not an exhaustive list. For the courses listed here, contact the name listed under the course description to request a seat and, if approved, complete a cross-registration form.




Fiction Workshop: Book 2

Instructor: Imad Rahman
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time: Tuesday,s 6:00–8:50 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENG 610

Intended both for new students & students returning from Book 1. In this workshop, we will continue shaping and sharpening manuscripts-to-be. Our tour guides for this journey will be Elizabeth Hand's A Haunting On The Hill, Lou Berney's Dark Ride & The Best American Short Stories 2023 (Min Jin Lee, ed.). Some of our concerns this semester will be: different ways to conceptualize, inhabit, plot, develop and complicate a novel; how to organize a stand-alone short story collection (how do these stories speak to each other, what should the ordering principle be: strength of story or theme or tone, etc.); and for the especially adventurous, what exactly is a novel-in-stories: an ungainly spillover from a short story collection or the fragments of a ruined novel or a form which contains both the compression of the story and the cohesive expansive unity of a novel? And the big question: how could you, how would you, how should you, how will you—write one of these books?

Contact m.geither@csuohio.edu to register

Craft & Theory of Fiction: Subjunctive Mood

Instructor: Joseph Earl Thomas, Writer-in-Residence
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time:  Wednesdays, 6:00–8:50 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENG 615

Since at least the 19th century the fictional enterprise has held aloft the possibility of creating written art which, at its best, delivers more than real reality to an increasingly educated population invested in working through the difficult questions of the human condition: romance, war, death, grieving and, of course, the pleasures of aesthetic experience. Realism on one hand might be compared to the current renaissance of speculative fiction writing, particularly where “minor” figures and histories are concerned, the margins speaking back, into, and through empire. In this class we will explore a wide range of fiction, primarily contemporary, across the spectrum of genre toward an understanding of social reality as writers concerned with articulating a history of the present and thinking broadly, critically, across difference. Likely writers will include Mat Johnson, NK Jemisin, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Amy Yamada, Kurt Vonnegut, Fernanda Melchor, Samuel Delany, Toni Morrison, Indra Das, Yuri Herrera, and Yoko Towada.

Contact m.geither@csuohio.edu to register.

Writing Fiction

Instructor: Anthony Tognazzini
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: Thursdays, 5:30–8:15 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENG 64071

In this course, we'll roll up our sleeves, sit at desks, and pretend we know nothing about the art of writing fiction. Except we won't be pretending! Pages of language will get passed around. Intensive, ongoing dialogues about original work produced by you, the workshop members, will dominate our class time, alongside more theoretical discussions on the social, cultural, political, and personal functions of fiction. These conversations may haunt you, inducing temporary grandiosity and occasional hyperventilation, but we’ll aim to stay the middle path of clear-minded working discipline. Naturally, there will be much talk of craft, especially the nuances of point of view, voice/tone, structure, and style, as well as our individual and infinitely variable approaches to composition and process. So that you will have ample time to devote to your own projects and to evaluating those of your peers, no outside reading will be assigned, though you will be expected to give regular presentations and turn in evaluative written reports on workshop submissions. A deep sense of artistic commitment, and a generous, openhearted approach to the collaborative group dynamic central to a creative writing workshop, is mandatory.

This course is full.


Creative Nonfiction Workshop

Instructor: David Giffels
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Wednesdays, 5:20–7:50 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENGL 689-802

In this MFA creative nonfiction writing workshop, students will propose a semester-long writing project tuned toward their own literary style, goals and writing background. Once the proposals are discussed and approved, each student will submit two to three pieces of original work to be read and discussed by the workshop participants. Individual readings will also be assigned, tailored to each writer’s aesthetic and goals. Open only to students in the NEOMFA program in creative writing.

Contact dg36@uakron.edu with the subject line “NEOMFA Class Request” to register.



Writing Poetry

Instructor: Catherine Wing
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: Tuesdays, 4:25–7:05 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENG - 64070 - 001

If we are to believe as Shelley does, that as poets we are “the unacknowledged legislators of the world” then we should all be very very busy. Of course, that’s a big IF—perhaps you’re more in line with George Oppen’s idea that we’re “legislators of the unacknowledged world”? Whatever your feelings are on our legislative capacities, it seems a good moment for slowing down and taking stock in what we honestly think poetry can and ought to do. What are your literary “values”? Do you appreciate honesty or humor? Playfulness or sincerity? Energy, intelligence, authenticity, deep image, sly wink? All of the above? What kinds of poems do you most want to make? In this class we will be focusing predominantly on student work as we create and share a mutual reading list that highlights the poems and poets we care most about.

Contact cwing1@kent.edu to register.

Craft & Theory: More Than Words: Poetry + The Visual

Instructor: Caryl Pagel
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time: Thursdays, 6:00–8:50 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENG 615

In this course we’ll discuss poetry that incorporates the visual: drawings, screenshots, photos, observations, marking, and documents. We’ll study poetry comics, collage poems, concrete poems, and other work whose form or content has a relationship to looking. Other visually oriented craft and/or theory topics will include asemic writing, emoji, caption, juxtaposition, meme, plein-air, scale, light, sketch, and aesthetics, and students will have the opportunity to generate poetry + image experiments of their own. We’ll consider the ekphrastic point of view, art historical associations, and recent writing on “mess studies,” and texts will include Lauren Haldeman’s Team Photograph, Douglas Kearney’s Mess And Mess And, Harmony Holiday’s Hollywood Forever, Stella Corso’s Green Knife, and Ross Gay’s Be Holding, among many others.

Contact c.pagel@csuohio.edu to register.





Instructor: N/A
Campus: N/A
Day & Time: N/A
Delivery Method: N/A
Course Number: N/A




MFA Literature: Literature for Creative Writers (full)

Instructor: Dr. Mary Biddinger
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time:  Mondays, 5:20–7:50 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENGL 689-803

This is a friendly and welcoming MFA literature course for writers who are interested in developing a reading practice as part of their creative process. The course will have a manageable reading list of contemporary writing in several genres, with a focus on how texts can inspire writers in their own work. We will also spend time discussing how creative writing pedagogy can incorporate literature when teaching high school and college courses, as well as community workshops. Assignments will include creative responses to readings, a review of a recent book (of the student’s choosing), and a final writing project. 

Literature for Creative Writers can be counted toward the NEOMFA literature requirement.

Contact dg36@uakron.edu with the subject line “NEOMFA Class Request” to register.

This course is full.

Critical Approaches to Literature

Instructor: Jennifer M Jeffers 
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time: Tuesdays, 6:00–8:50 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENG 601, Sec 50, Course 1988 

English 601, Critical Approaches to Literature, is the CSU English Department MA’s “literary theory course.”  In English 601 we will read foundational texts from Nietzsche, Derrida, Foucault, Freud, and Butler as well as literary interpretations that provide various reading strategies. Gilles Deleuze called theory a “toolbox”; this course will provide the tools to think about literature (and the world) from diverse perspectives.

Contact m.geither@csuohio.edu to register.  

Ethnic Literature of the United States: Native America and American Literature

Instructor: Ryan Hediger
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: Wednesdays, 4:25–7:05 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENG 66103/76103 

In light of what some scholars are calling “the Indigenous turn” in critical theory, this course broadly surveys literature by and about Native Americans, from early European contact to the near present. Most of the texts are Native authored, but we will also read some key texts by European and settler authors. The course will also study Indigenous theory and some anthropology, as well as two films. In addition to weekly seminar participation, seminar members will write either two medium-length research essays or one shorter essay and one longer, traditional seminar research paper. The seminar will also require brief presentations on the materials.

Primary Texts:

Beresford, Bruce (director), Black Robe (film)
Cooper, James Fenimore, The Last of the Mohicans (novel)
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, “Letter to Martin Van Buren”
Eyre, Chris (director), Smoke Signals (film)
Franklin, Ben, “Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”
Hogan, Linda, Solar Storms (novel)
Howe, LeAnne, Shell Shaker (novel)
Las Casas, Bartolome de, A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies
Momaday, N. Scott, The Way to Rainy Mountain (mixed genre memoir/poetry)
Rowlandson, Mary, A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson
Welch, James, Fools Crow (novel)
Assorted poems by Sherman Alexie, Joy Harjo, Simon Ortiz, Gary Snyder, and others

Secondary Texts:

Coulthard, Glen Sean, Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (selections)
Graeber, David, and David Wengrow, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity: “Farewell to Humanity’s Childhood” (1-26) and “Wicked Liberty: The Indigenous Critique and the Myth of Progress” (27-77)
Nichols, Robert, Theft is Property! Dispossession and Critical Theory
Selected critical articles by Kyle Powys Whyte, Eric Cheyfitz, Melanie Benson Taylor, and others

*this course is not an MFA Lit course*

African American Literature

Instructor: Babacar M’Baye
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: Tuesdays, 5:30–8:55 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENG 66104/76104

This graduate course explores the development of African American literature from its inceptions in African oral traditions to its manifestations in African American folktales, poetry, slave narratives, and other forms of writings and cultural expressions. We will examine a variety of genres of African American protest writings such as slave narratives, novels, autobiographies, memoirs, drama, poems, essays, short stories, and other works of black American authors of different generations. The contexts will include the colonial era, the Antebellum, the Postbellum, the Jim Crow era, the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, and later periods that witnessed crucial developments of radical, nationalist, feminist, modernist, postmodernist, and cosmopolitan African American writings and aesthetics. We will analyze the social, political, economic, and cultural concerns in these texts to understand the multiple roles that literature and tradition have played in African American struggles for freedom, equality, and justice. We will also study African American literature’s function as a tool against slavery, racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia in America, as an evidence of hybridity and authenticity in African American culture, and as a testimony of the deprivations, alienations, violence, disenfranchisement, betrayal, dilemma, and hopelessness that failed and broken promises of equality, justice, full integration, modernization, and multiculturalism have created in the lives of African Americans. This course is preparatory for teaching or studying African American literature, ethnic studies, cultural studies, multiculturalism, American studies, history, folklore, sociology, law, political science, journalism, and other fields.

Assigned Texts:

Gates, Henry Louis Jr, ed. The Classic Slave Narratives. New York: Signet Classic, 2002.
Three Negro Classics. New York: Avon Books, 1999.
Toomer, Jean. Cane. 1923. New York, NY: Norton, 2011.
Larsen, Nella. Passing: A Norton Critical Edition. New York, NY: Norton, 2007.
Baldwin, James. Go Tell It on the Mountain. 1953. New York: Laurel, 1981.
Chapman, Abraham. Black Voices: An Anthology of Afro-American Literature. 1968. New York: Mentor, 2001.
Petry, Anne. The Street: A Novel. 1946. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1991.
Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. 1959. New York: Vintage Books, 1988.
Jones, LeRoi. Dutchman and the Slave: Two Plays. New York: Harper Perennial, 2001.
Dash, Julie. Daughters of the Dust: A Novel. New York: Plume, 1999.
Obama, Barack. Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. New York: Three Rivers P, 2004.
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between The World and Me. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2015.

Examinations, papers, and reports:

- Five analyses of a major theme of one or more assigned reading(s). Each response will be 1 single-spaced page long (25%).
- A 500-word abstract of a 20-page research paper (10%).
- 5 double-spaced pages reviewing a major book of literary or cultural criticism. The book should be selected from the list provided above (25%).
- A 20-page research paper (30%).
- Regular attendance and active class participation (10%).

*this course is not an MFA Lit course*

Literature of the US

Instructor: Robert W. Trogdon 
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: Thursdays, 4:25–7:05 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENG 66891/76891

The course will focus on American novels of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Special attention will be paid to how these writers reacted and depicted the social and political realities of American life during these decades.

- Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt
- Willa Cather, The Professor’s House
- James Gould Cozzens, Guard of Honor
- Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men
- William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!
- John Steinbeck, In Dubious Battle
- Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
- Raymond Chandler, The Long Good-Bye
- William March, Company K
- John Dos Passos, The 42nd Parallel
- Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
- Nathaniel West, The Day of the Locusts

*this course is not an MFA Lit course*



Writers on Writing

Instructor: David Giffels
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays, 2:00–2:50 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENGL 557-001

This is a class about the writing life, as portrayed through the work of people whose lives are about writing. Throughout this semester, we will explore essays and books by writers describing the practical and philosophical nature of their work. We will discuss the features of creativity, techniques of the craft, the interaction of life and art, the present and future of literature, the publishing process, and other topics of relevance to active writers and readers. We will also practice our own creative and critical writing. Graduate students will prepare and present a biography of the creative life of a writer of their choosing.

Contact dg36@uakron.edu with the subject line “NEOMFA Class Request” to register.

Poe & Hawthorne

Instructor: Dr. Jon Miller
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays, 11:50 AM–12:40 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENGL 589-001

In this literature seminar we will study writings by Edgar Allan Poe and Nathanial Hawthorne in the context of the sensational popular literature of their time. There will be additional emphasis on literary editing and publishing. For the final assignment, students can write a regular seminar paper or an article presenting a short, forgotten, and once-popular text for possible publication in Nineteenth-Century Ohio Literature: https://ideaexchange.uakron. edu/ nineteenthcenturyohioliteratur e/

Contact dg36@uakron.edu with the subject line “NEOMFA Class Request” to register.

Grant Writing

Instructor: Dr. Hillary Nunn
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Tuesdays, 5:20–7:50 PM
Delivery Method: in-person
Course Number: ENGL 689-801/501

This course takes an interdisciplinary and experiential approach to grant writing, grounded in rhetorical strategies. Will address strategies for approaching grant funding, crafting narratives, developing budgets, and best practices overall. Includes writing grants for individuals and for non-profits. Students will work in teams and/or with community groups to develop grant proposals.

Contact dg36@uakron.edu with the subject line “NEOMFA Class Request” to register.

Digital Projects in the Archives

Instructor: Dr. Hillary Nunn
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 3:30–4:45 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENGL 589-002

“Round Howard Street: Telling the Story of Akron Jazz” 

In this hands-on course, we’ll explore the central role that jazz played in Akron’s cultural life in the early twentieth century. We’ll delve into the archive to uncover long-hidden stories about musicians, clubs, and audiences, and we’ll use social media tools to share our research to new audiences. We’ll also add to the Cleveland Greenbook Project to ensure that Akron’s history is fully represented on that website. No special experience with archival research or digital tools required.

Contact dg36@uakron.edu with the subject line “NEOMFA Class Request” to register.


NEOMFA Internship

Instructor: Christopher Barzak
Campus: Youngstown State University
Day & Time: Saturday afternoons & select Friday evenings
Delivery Method: Online synchronous
Course Number: 24064 ENGL 6991 Special Topics in NEOMFA

The NEOMFA internship centers on applied and practical work in an internship relevant to each student's area of interest, and on preparing students for positions in their chosen fields after graduation. You will have supplementary professionalization activities to complete and seminars to attend at various points throughout the semester, including virtual seminars where you will have the chance to speak with a professional acquiring editor for a large corporate publisher, as well as a literary agent. Students should arrange for their specific internship in advance of the semester.If assistance is required, students should reach out to their gateway instructors/advisors and course instructor for suggestions. An internship arrangement should be formalized before the start of the semester.

Contact cmbarzak@ysu.edu to register.

NEOMFA's Ohio icon

© 2021 NEOMFA
English Department
Cleveland State University
2121 Euclid Ave., RT 1815
Cleveland, Ohio  44115