Image of books stacked on top of one another

Spring 2022 Courses

Registration for core NEOMFA courses (workshops, craft and theory courses, MFA literature courses, and the internship) begins 12 am, October 1. See details on our registration page (here).

We will publish recommended electives and literature courses across all four universities, but this is not an exhaustive list. Contact the professor (except for UA courses, in which you contact the campus coordinator) to request a seat and, if approved, complete a cross-registration form.

Note: As of now, all NEOMFA classes held at CSU and YSU are scheduled to run remotely during Spring 2022. NEOMFA courses at KSU and UA will run in-person; all NEOMFA students attending classes on those campuses will need to follow the vaccination and testing requirements of each university.




Book 2

Instructor: Christopher Barzak
Campus: Youngstown State University
Day & Time: Thursdays 5:10-7:50 PM
Delivery Method: online
Course Number: ENG 6967

In this class we will write a large portion of a book of fiction. Form is open, so you can feel free to write the opening of a novel, novel-in-stories, or short story collection. Ideally you’ll use this class to work toward creating a large portion of your graduate thesis, though you can also use the course to simply experiment with an idea you haven’t necessarily committed to as well. Students who took Book 1 in the Fall can continue to work on the book they began then, and new students to Book 2 who did not take Book 1 can begin work on a book in this course. We will write and critique fiction written by members of the class. The fiction should be one long chunk of either an intended novel, novel-in-stories, or short story collection. Emphasis will be placed on analyzing and producing the components and operations of novel openings, as well as structuring and arranging various kinds of short story collections. This class will be delivered online live. 

Contact cmbarzak@ysu.edu to register

Craft & Theory of Fiction: Novel Creation & Imagination

Instructor: Laura Maylene Walter
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time:  Mondays, 4:25-7:05 PM
Delivery Method: in-person
Course Number: ENG 66895

How does a novel take shape, and how can writers tackle the myriad factors that go into its creation? From conception to research, worldbuilding, structure, drafting, revision, and beyond, we’ll embark on a holistic examination of the art of novel writing. Along the way, we’ll read novels that speak to some aspect of the creative process—including Bunny by Mona Awad, The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa, The Door by Magda Szabo, and Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder—along with books that illuminate elements of craft. From the worldbuilding of The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee to the research behind E. Lily Yu’s On Fragile Waves to the critical take on the contemporary publishing industry in The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, we’ll navigate the imaginative wilds of the novel-writing process.

Contact cwing1@kent.edu to register

Fiction Workshop

Instructor: Imad Rahman
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time: Wednesdays 6:00-8:50 PM
Delivery Method: online
Course Number: ENG 610

This fiction-writing workshop is an open, inclusive space designed to both help you generate material through a series of exercises and prompts and to provide a safe and vibrant creative atmosphere 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 or a chapter that will surprise you, and by extension, us, your readers. I 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 three novels (Colson Whitehead's Harlem Shuffle, Alexandra Kleeman's Something New Under The Sun & Marlowe Granados' Happy Hour) & two short story collections (Mariana Enriquez's The Dangers Of Smoking In Bed & Simon Rich's New Teeth).

Contact m.i.rahman@csuohio.edu to register



Creative Nonfiction Workshop

Instructor: David Giffels
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Thursdays 5:20-7:50 PM
Delivery Method: in-person
Course Number: ENG 3300: 689-[section number TK]

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 to register

Craft & Theory of Creative Nonfiction: Illness Narratives

Instructor: Hilary Plum
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time: Tuesdays 6:00-8:50 PM
Delivery Method: online
Course Number: ENG 615

This craft and theory seminar will study the challenges and possibilities that illness presents to narrative forms. How can writing give form to an ethics of healing? How does illness alter our work and our aims as writers and readers? The covid-19 pandemic will be part of our course, as will other eras, theories, and occasions of writing illness, disability, and mortality. Our consideration of illness will include both intensities of personal experience and structures of public policy and the rhetoric of disease—both the body and the body politic, both the person who is ill and the forces that shape, name, treat, exclude, and exploit her experience. How does illness change the conceptions and practices of the narrating self? How may literature represent the time and suffering of illness? In what ways do the experiences and meanings and burdens of illness “belong” to the individual vs. the collective? We will explore the work of theorists, essayists, journalists, and documentary filmmakers, and we’ll create essay proposals and projects according to our own interests. Readings may include work by Arthur Frank, Edward Said, Jean-Luc Nancy, Audre Lorde, Svetlana Alexievich, Susan Sontag, Claudia Rankine, Eula Biss, Caren Beilin, Roy Scranton, and others.

Contact: h.plum@csuohio.edu to register



Poetry Workshop

Instructor: Phil Brady
Campus: Youngstown State University
Day & Time: Wednesdays (Time TK)
Delivery Method: online
Course Number: TK

This is a student-centered class; the most important text is your own work. We will meet virtually on Zoom. We will consider poetry as “an aesthetic experience of language” avoiding limiting definitions and rigid practices; at the same time we will focus on poetry as a formal art, and we will work in a varied of traditional and experimental modes. The class will frame conversations about student poems in terms of each poem’s arc from inception through completion. Where does the poem come from? Where is it going? How does it relate to other poems, both by the author and by other poets? In addition to form, we will engage issues of idiom, identity, and tradition, and share ways that poems come together to compose a body of work. We’ll also explore the mysterious and potent connection between sound and meaning, delving into poetry’s pre-literary source as utterance. We’ll invite and encourage one another to consider poetry as a life-sustaining and life-examining art.

Contact psbrady@ysu.edu to register

Craft & Theory of Poetry: Lab Experiments With Language: Writing, Science, and the Imagination

Instructor: Catherine Wing
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: Tuesdays 4:25-7:05 PM
Delivery Method: in-person
Course Number: ENG 66895

Using the incomparable Lynda Barry as our guide this class will investigate the imagination as it moves, plays, and operates in the realms of writing and science. The traditional divide between the Arts and Sciences is long out of date (beauty vs. truth, fiction vs. fact, emotion vs. reason) and due for a reboot. Our task will be to think about how these categories might be more alike than different, to cross-pollinate the ideas and metaphors of distinct disciplines through language, to create new perspectives on the world and to communicate those perspectives in writing. We’ll be hearing from a variety of scientists across the disciplines (Anthropology, Biology, Ecology, and Philosophy just to name a few) and responding to their research with our own creative work. Writing will be constant and experimentation expected. Ruthless curiosity and rigorous enthusiasm shall be our calling cards. This class is not for the faint of heart, the short of sight, or the narrow of mind, but if you’re an explorer ready for some rather bold going, then let’s forge on.

Contact cwing1@kent.edu to register



Playwriting Workshop

Instructor: Michael Geither
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time: Mondays, 6:00 PM-8:50 PM
Delivery Method: online
Course Number: ENG 612

This is an open workshop designed for playwrights and non-playwrights. We’ll spend the early portion of class generating work in and out of class and reading contemporary plays from Alashea Harris, Daaimah Mubashshir, Will Arberry, Sheila Callaghan, Will Eno, Jennifer Haley, Gina Gionfrido and Richard Nelson. As class progresses we’ll workshop our developing plays through cold readings.

Contact m.geither@csuohio.edu to register



MFA Literature: Theory & Practice of Modern Poetry (FULL)

Instructor: Mary Biddinger
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time:  Mondays, 5:20 PM-7:50 PM
Delivery Method: in-person
Course Number: 3300:689

What can poems from the past teach us about risks poets are taking today? In this literature seminar we will cross between decades, examining poetry collections from yesteryear alongside new books (for example, we’ll talk about Satan Says by Sharon Olds, and frank: sonnets by Diane Seuss). The class will include both critical and creative assignments responding to the books, and conversations about what we can learn from them as writers. All NEOMFA students are welcome, regardless of genre and previous experience with reading or writing poetry. Content note: readings may include adult themes, including references to sex, drugs, violence, mortality, mental illness, etc.

Contact dg36@uakron.edu to register.

MFA Literature: Contemporary Film & TV as Literature

Instructor: David Todd
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time:  Thursdays, 6:00–8:50 pm
Delivery Method:  Online
Course Number: ENG 616, Class 5546 | Section 50

This course will explore contemporary film and television with a focus on how works from those media offer perspectives, ideas, and commentaries that are often “literary” in depth. We’ll begin with a review of films from later 20th century film movements (French New Wave, American Indie, etc.) before focusing in greater depth on more recent material from both cinema and TV. From the birth of the so-called “auteur” on, film and the more serious veins of television have competed with fiction, nonfiction, and playwriting as serious narrative genres. These forms have affected our collective notions of story construction, plot development, dialogue, language, imagery, characterization, pacing, tone, emotion, attitude, and much more. We’ll view a number of films and TV series (note: you will need to view a few entire seasons of recent shows such as Atlanta and The Wire, with advanced notice). Then, we’ll consider the impact of such material on the culture as well as examine its relationship to the traditional literary arts. 

Contact m.geither@csuohio.edu to register

Twentieth-Century American Literature

Instructor: Patrick Chura
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time:  asynchronous
Delivery Method:  online/asynchronous
Course Number: 3300: 629-501

This fully online course emphasizes recent approaches to Twentieth Century American Literature, and it asks teachers to undertake scholarly research appropriate for the graduate level. Course objectives are, first, to help teachers expand their knowledge of pedagogically useful literary works and interpretive methods, and second, to consider in detail how such knowledge might impact the secondary school classroom. While pedagogical issues will be a consistent focus of our discussions, the course will also be valuable to non-teachers seeking growth through close study of benchmark texts in the multicultural canon.

Contact dg36@uakron.edu to register.

Black Feminism

Instructor: Julie Burrell
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time:  Wednesdays, 6–8:50 pm
Delivery Method:  online
Course Number: Eng 695

This course in African American Literature and Theory will primarily focus on theories and texts by Black feminists. Far from being a narrow interest or simply responsible for intersectionality, Black feminist thought and writing is the cutting edge of contemporary literary studies. Authors might include Toni Morrison, Toni Cade Bambara, Anna Julia Cooper, Saidiya Hartman, Angela Davis, the Combahee River Collective, Audre Lorde, & Lorraine Hansberry.

Contact j.m.burrell@csuohio.edu to register.

Contemporary Graphic Narrative

Instructor: Tammy Clewell
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time:  TK
Delivery Method:  in-person
Course Number: ENG 6/76895

This course will focus on contemporary graphic narratives, including both memoirs and novels written in the form of comics, that tell stories about personal and collective experiences of trauma and loss. We will situate our appraisals of these texts in the context of psychoanalysis and affect theory.  Because our exploration will focus not simply on textual themes but especially on comics form, we will familiarize ourselves with the newly emergent emphasis on formal analysis in literary studies that grew out of what is commonly referred to as the “methods war.” Our aim will be to determine whether graphic memoirs and novels are particularly well-suited to effectively responding to a range of difficult experiences. 

Contact tclewell@kent.edu to register.


Instructor: Don-John Dugas     
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time:  Mondays, 4:25–7:05pm
Delivery Method:  TK
Course Number: ENG 6/76051  (CRN: 13286/13296)

We will read selected plays and secondary works.  Our emphasis will be on understanding and participating in current scholarly conversations with particular attention paid to professionalizing MA and PhD candidates.  High school teachers are welcome and are encouraged to research the robust scholarship that exists about the teaching of Shakespeare. 

Contact ddugas@kent.edu to register.

Postcolonial Literature in English

Instructor: Babacar M’Baye
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time:  Tuesdays, 5:30–8:15pm
Delivery Method:  in-person
Course Number: ENG-66302-001-CRN 13287 / ENG-76302-001-CRN 13297

Expanding paradigms that tend to merely critique the effects of imperial states on national cultures, current directions in postcolonial studies re-evaluate such scholarships while assessing the relationships between neo-colonial subjects and former (or modern) colonial powers. The study of these relationships in transnational and interdisciplinary terms complicates the relationships between colonial metropolises and nation-states, especially when nationalisms are re-evaluated in light of scholarships on globalization, hybridity, cosmopolitanism, and other theories. Stressing the importance of individual cultures and identities, this course examines new critical voices of postcolonial literature that express individuality, fluidity, and hybridism in the formation of postcolonial identities. Tracing the routes of this pluralism from colonial to neocolonial periods, this course also explores the significance of culture and identity in specific contexts shaped by exchange, borrowings, and appropriations among various populations. 

The course’s readings include literature of postcolonial African, Arab, Indian, and Caribbean writers who have represented the social, political, cultural, and economic conditions of their nations before and/or after the independence of these countries. We will explore the historical and political realities that have influenced such literary production through the study of essays, theories, fiction, poetry, and cinema that reveal the dualisms, inequalities, and contradictions in postcolonial nations that continue to search for freedom, sovereignty, and development in a world that is increasingly diverse, heterogeneous, and global.

Contact bmbaye@kent.edu to register.

Expatriate American Literature

Instructor: Robert W. Trogdon
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time:  TK
Delivery Method:  TK
Course Number: ENG 6/76401

Study of American writers in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. The course will focus on works set in Europe and/or works published in the expatriate little magazines and presses—most of which were established by American writers living in Paris. Special attention will be paid to ways American writers adapted European modernism in their writing and attempted to shape their reputations through memoir.

Contact rtrogdon@kent.edu to register.

19th Century British Studies

Instructor: Suzanne Diamond
Campus: Youngstown State University
Day & Time:  Wednesdays, 5:10 – 7:50pm
Delivery Method:  in-person
Course Number: ENGL 6916

“Terror and the Tabloid Temperament.” What are we afraid of? Many British writers of the Nineteenth Century probed this question in frightening stories inspired by the “real-life” horrors on display in the popular press.  While not literally “ripped from the headlines,” the unsettling tales shaped by prominent storytellers (such as Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Ellen Wood, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Thomas Hardy, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Robert Louis Stevenson) echo striking features of publicized horrors from newspaper accounts; we will explore the ways these stories aim themselves at news-primed readers with a “tabloid temperament” that prefigures the tastes of contemporary audiences. No textbook is required; the course is paperless and all readings will be made available via online resources. 

Contact sdiamond@ysu.edu to register.

Studies in Young Adult Lit

Instructor:  Stacey Graber
Campus: Youngstown State University
Day & Time:  Mondays, 5:10 pm–7:50 pm
Delivery Method: in-person
Course Number: ENGL 6919

Drawing on the dramatic vitality, stylistic sophistication, and academic importance of contemporary nonfiction written for a youthful audience, this course will be situated at the intersection of young adult literature and researched, creative composition. Students will read an eclectic sampling of YA nonfiction texts representing subjects such as social issues, object studies, true crime, art and culture, science and technology, gender studies, immigration and asylum policy, media studies, labor and social class conflict, and world history. Class members will analyze content, conventions (text features), and audience considerations, and ultimately research and compose a segment of a YA nonfiction text for development toward prospective publication. 

Contact sgraber@ysu.edu to register.

Literary Thought: "Pain Studies"

Instructor:  Lucas Hardy
Campus: Youngstown State University
Day & Time:  Tuesdays, 5:10-7:50 PM
Delivery Method:  in-person
Course Number: ENGL 6902

In her landmark study The Body in Pain (1985) Elaine Scarry famously asserts that pain is “unsharable.” Framing a broader critique of political violence and material culture, Scarry claims that when sufferers attempt to express pain, it enters language only by analogy. Her idea that pain is incompatible with language is rooted in multiple overlapping discourses—including medical, political, and literary theories that seek to classify, define, and understand pain. More recently, scholars working in the medical humanities have sought to revise the idea that pain resists expression. Susannah Mintz, for instance, suggests that pain enables lyrical expressions that reveal (rather than conceal) the hurting self. In this class, we will read broadly across historical periods, literary movements, and cultural borders to discover what we might (tentatively) call “lite ratures of pain.” Primary-source authors may include Aristotle, Anne Bradstreet, Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, Sigmund Freud, Toni Morrison, Susan Sontag, Eula Bliss, and Lisa Olstein, among others. Secondary and critical sources will include Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault, Elaine Scarry, David B. Morris, Talal Asad, Susannah Mintz, and others. Weekly class meetings will consist of extensive class discussion, student presentations, and some lecture. Assignments may include short position papers, archival/journal research, and a critical or creative final project.   

Contact lhardy01@ysu.edu to register.



Writers on Writing

Instructor: Jon Miller
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time:  MWF 12:55-1:45 p.m.
Delivery Method:  in-person
Course Number: 3300: 557-501

We'll study what established writers have to say about writing. Texts will include Richard Hugo, Anne Lamott, Stephen King, and online interviews such as those from the Paris Review. The course will also study the current state of literary publishing. We'll go over the basics of copyright and publishing agreements that are relevant for creative writers and literary editors. Students will do some creative writing, in any genre. Graduate students will work with the professor to edit and publish a print collection of selected writings for the course as an issue of a literary magazine.

Contact dg36@uakron.edu to register.

Digital Humanities in the Archives

Instructor: Hillary Nunn
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time:  T-TH, 2-3:15 p.m.
Delivery Method: in-person
Course Number: 3300: 589-002

Menus and Megabytes @HowerHouse: In this hands-on course, we’ll explore the central role that food, cooking, and entertaining played at the UA’s historical site Hower House in the early twentieth century. We’ll use tools like blogs, websites, digital archives, and Instagram feeds to bring archival research to new audiences, and we’ll prepare a cookbook for print publication to showcase the Hower family’s recipes. In the process, we’ll learn not just about the era’s food and parties but about the wide array of people involved in their production. No special experience with digital tools required.

Contact dg36@uakron.edu to register.

Science Fiction

Instructor: Julie Drew
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time:  T-TH, 2-3:15 p.m.
Delivery Method:  in-person
Course Number: 3300: 585-001

This course explores twentieth-century British and American science fiction in its primary forms: the short story, novella, novel, and feature film. The class is structured as a seminar: student-led discussions of required readings and a substantial writing requirement composed of four short response papers, a mid-term essay exam, and a research paper. Graduate students should anticipate additional assignment requirements in terms of reading, writing, and research.

Contact dg36@uakron.edu to register.

Professional & Technical Editing

Instructor: Jay Gordon
Campus: Youngstown State University
Day & Time:  TK
Delivery Method:  online
Course Number:  ENGL 6949

A study of the skills needed to make appropriate changes in the content, grammar, mechanics, style, format, and organization of manuscripts for scholarly, trade, journalistic, and other professional publications. The course deals with stages in the publishing process, hard-copy versus online editing, mechanical and substantive editing, and the use of house and press styles.

Contact jlgordon@ysu.edu to register.

Language Acquisition

Instructor: Nicole Pettitt
Campus: Youngstown State University
Day & Time:  Tuesday evenings
Delivery Method: online
Course Number: ENGL 6951

A study of research on the learning of first and second languages. Topics include developmental sequences, learner variables, critical periods and conditions for learning, and the roles of input and interaction. The course is designed for those planning to teach languages. 

Contact npettitt@ysu.edu to register.



NEOMFA Internship: Writer in the Community

Instructor: David Giffels
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time:  Saturdays 10:45 AM to 1:15 PM
Delivery Method: in-person
Course Number: 3300: 689-[section number TK]

This course fulfills the NEOMFA internship requirement and will prepare students to apply their knowledge of creative writing by participating in a community-based teaching residency. In the internship seminar, writers will develop practical skills and knowledge to prepare for professional life beyond the MFA experience. Students will complete 120 hours of work in a variety of pursuits, including teaching, publishing, copywriting, journalism, arts nonprofit work, and others. These hours can be completed prior to or concurrent with the seminar, but must be complete by the end of the semester. The seminars will meet once a month, with instruction and exercises focused on building career skills and a portfolio of materials.

Contact dg36@uakron.edu to register

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