Image of books stacked on top of one another

2021 Fall Courses

While we are thrilled with the prospect of things returning to normal, there are a few things to be aware of regarding registration for Fall 2021 classes.

First off, each of our institutions is taking a slightly different stance when it comes to reopening and given the information regarding social-distancing measures, scheduling rooms for classes (or rooms that have access to the necessary technology) has become an unexpected challenge.

What’s listed as a “delivery method” is the specific preference of the individual instructor, given the options available to them at this time. These options may well shift over the next weeks and months and, as such, you need to be aware that the listed delivery method is tentative and subject to change. 

If these changes happen while registration is still open, we’ll revise these offerings but otherwise you’ll be hearing directly from your instructors. Any specific questions regarding delivery method should be directed to the individual professors at each of our partner institutions. 

Second, while we are able to proceed with NEOMFA Registration in our normal timeframe, do be aware that your institution’s actual registration dates may well be delayed. Contact your campus coordinator or your department’s graduate administrator for more information on that front.



Book 1

Instructor: Christopher Barzak
Campus: Youngstown State University
Day & Time: Thursdays 5:10-7:50 PM
Delivery Method: Online, synchronous
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 (and the Spring semester follow-up course) 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. 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

Fiction Workshop

Instructor: Hilary Plum
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time: Tuesdays 6:00-8:50 PM
Delivery Method: TBD
Course Number: ENG 610

This workshop will offer a semester-long dialogue—rigorous, collaborative, generous, critically engaged—on the work of fiction. How fiction is made; what work fiction may do. Writers will submit works-in-progress several times during the semester and will discuss one another’s writing weekly, as usual. Sometimes you may be responsible for helping lead discussion of someone else’s work. Sometimes I will ask you, in short writing assignments, to articulate your aims, influences, values, and drives as a writer. We will consider our writing as cultural work. We’ll connect our forms of inquiry and choices in making fiction to the readerships and futures we hope to reach and to make. We’ll pay attention to narration and its (power) dynamics; voice and the role of narrator/character; the position of the reader; facticity in the framework of fiction; world-building and its responsibilities and freedoms; fiction as an alternative present. There may be some light outside reading, but our focus will be on the work of writers in the room.

Contact: h.plum@csuohio.edu

Craft & Theory of Fiction: The Contemporary Weird 

Instructor: Imad Rahman
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time: Wednesdays 6:00-8:50 PM
Delivery Method: Synchronous (either In Person or via Zoom)
Course Number: ENG 615

What is weird fiction? A common definition holds that "by blending fantasy, science fiction, and horror with the supernatural elements of gothic fiction, weird fiction crosses genre boundaries and reinvents them." It also intersects with the domestic, the surreal, and the western, to name just a few. In other words, inventive nonrealist multigenre fiction that crosses happily over borders and is hard to define? This semester we'll read twelve weird contemporary novels that will answer many questions and pose many more: Victor LaValle's Big Machine, Heidi Julavits' The Vanishers, Sofia Samatar's A Stranger In Olondria, Sam J. Miller's The Blade Between, Mona Awad's All's Well, Jeff Vandermeer's Hummingbird Salamander, Karin Tidbek's The Memory Theater, Stephen Graham Jones' My Heart Is A Chainsaw, Yun Ko-Eun's The Disaster Tourist, J.D. Wilkes' The Vine That Ate The South, Joe Abercrombie's Red Country, & Nnedi Okarafor's Lagoon.

Contact: M.I.Rahman@csuohio.edu



Creative Nonfiction Workshop

Instructor: David Giffels
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Tuesdays 5:20-7:50 PM
Delivery Method: In Person
Course Number: ENG 3300: 689-801

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.

Contact: dg36@uakron.edu to register

Craft & Theory of Creative Nonfiction: The Lyric Essay

Instructor: Eliese Goldbach
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: Thursdays 4:25-7:05 PM
Delivery Method:  In person (with some possible synchronous remote sessions)
Course Number: ENG 66895

Few structures in nonfiction are quite as intricate and exacting as the lyric essay. One must combine the poet’s precision with the memoirist’s dedication to truth and exploration, which is no easy task. Throughout the semester, we will explore the components that make a lyric essay tick. How do the masters of the form build narratives that feel so tightly packaged? How do they use white space and juxtaposition to create meaning? And how do we, as writers, find the structures that work best for our material? Students in the course will examine a wide range of texts from authors like Maggie Nelson, Anne Boyer and Claudia Rankine. They will also produce a body of critical and creative work with the ultimate goal of honing their skills as essayists.

Contact: cwing1@kent.edu



Poetry Workshop

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

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 large 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

Craft & Theory of Poetry: Reading, Writing, and Publishing First Books

Instructor: Mary Biddinger
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Thursdays 5:20-7:50 PM
Delivery Method: In Person
Course Number: ENG 3300: 689-(section TBD)

In this course we will read recent first books of poetry, and discuss the process of creating, publishing, and marketing a first book. Assignments will include creative responses to the texts, and research on current publication opportunities. This class welcomes NEOMFA students concentrating in all genres, and will be especially helpful for poets and hybrid prose writers working on a chapbook or full-length manuscript.

Contact: dg36@uakron.edu to register



Playwriting Workshop

Instructor: David Todd
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time: Mondays 6:00–8:50 PM
Delivery Method: TBD
Course Number: ENG 612

Description pending.

Contact: m.geither@csuohio.edu to register



Playwriting MFA Literature: Dramatic Structure

Instructor: Michael Geither
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time:  Thursdays 6:00-8:50 PM
Delivery Method: TBD
Course Number: ENG 616

Description pending.

Contact: m.geither@csuohio.edu

Literature of the 1930s in Historical Perspective

Instructor: Dr. Patrick Chura
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time:  Wednesdays 5:20-7:50 PM
Delivery Method: In Person
Course Number: ENG 3300:689-803

A study of Depression-era literature in its historical context, focusing on both modernist and realist fiction and drama. Authors studied include John Steinbeck, Meridel Lesueur, Shirley Graham, Myra Page, Clifford Odets, Langston Hughes, Arna Bontemps, Mike Gold, and Richard Wright.  

Working Class Literature

Instructor: Dr. Timothy Francisco
Campus: Youngstown State University
Day & Time:  Mondays 5:20-7:50 PM
Delivery Method:  Hybrid, synchronous
Course Number: ENG 6923 - 01

It almost seems as though the election of Donald J. Trump marked America’s rediscovery of the working class, a subject position so often represented in the popular imagination as synonymous with the white working class male, the displaced industrial worker, the “forgotten man” of populist political rhetoric. But, of course, writers, poets, playwrights, essayists, and journalists have been capturing working-class life--in all of its complexity—for generations, and this course is an exploration of this literature in all of its breadth. We’ll map working class culture across genres, time periods, and subject positions from stories of rural agrarian life, to chronicles of the service and tourist industries, and of course, tales of deindustrialization as well. Our approach will be intersectional, as we explore the ways in which race, gender, sexuality, ability, and other contingencies shape the experiences of the working class.  

Course Modality and Methodology: This course will be a hybrid, meaning we will meet Mondays from 5:10-7:50 in a physical location “ a classroom of the future”  that allows both in-person and remote attendance (details to follow). The course will also be a hybrid in that you can choose between creative and “traditional” assignments. I’m hoping that we will also be able take advantage of the vibrant network of working-class writers here in Ohio and YSU’s designation as the US birthplace of Working Class Studies for guest lectures from both practitioners and scholars.

Contact: tfrancisco@ysu.edu 

Ecocriticism, Theories of Nature and the Natural

Instructor: Ryan Hediger
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time:  Wednesdays 4:25-7:05 PM
Delivery Method:  TBD
Course Number: ENG 67591/77591

Ecocriticism includes a broad range of critical orientations and theoretical frameworks. It developed in response to world events: the growing awareness in the late twentieth century of environmental problems including pollution, species extinction, habitat degradation, and so on, an awareness marked by the advent of the first Earth Day (1970), the creation of the Environmental Protection Act (1970), the passing of The Endangered Species Act (1973), and much more. Today, climate change and related “wicked” global problems loom hugely. While much early ecocriticism focused on “nature” and nature writing, especially in the United States, today its application is global and its subjects extend well beyond simple views of nature and the natural. This course will offer a historical account of ecocriticism (Garrard), but most of our work will involve exploring the variety of contemporary approaches and theories. Thus, each week, or sometimes every few weeks, will focus on a relatively distinct area: the Anthropocene (Bonneuil and Fressoz; Mentz; Purdy); wilderness/the wild (Thoreau, Snyder); new materialism/material ecocriticism (Iovina and Oppermann; Bennett); indigenous perspectives (Simpson, Huhndorf, McNickle); ecomedia (Rust, Being Caribou, Grizzly Man); animal studies (Weil); “being ecological” (Morton); environmental justice (Nixon, Wynter); postcolonialism, race, and nature (Mbembe, Wynter, Nixon); “the language of plants” (Gagliano, Ryan, and Vieira); queer ecocriticism (Seymour); and petroleum cultures (LeManager). We will read some literature and film, but the course is designed to be primarily theoretical and historical. It is thus suitable for students of literature, rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. 

Special Topics: Jane Austen   

Instructor: Vera Camden
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time:  Tuesdays 5:30-8:00 PM
Delivery Method:  TBA
Course Number: ENG 6/7859

This course will examine the works of Jane Austen, which includes the novels, the juvenilia, unfinished works, and the letters of Jane Austen. We will study Austen in the context of her place in literary history as well as through her biographical context. This course will examine the complete works of Jane Austen, including the Minor works. We will study Austen in the context of her place in literary history as well as her biographical context. We will read select current interpretations of Jane Austen’s works as well as view representative films of Austen’s works.

Methods in the Study of Literature

Instructor:  Dr. Jennifer MacLure
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time:  Wednesdays 5:30-8:00 PM
Delivery Method: TBD
Course Number: ENG 6/76706

The goals of this course are threefold: to teach the discipline-specific skills required for graduate-level literary analysis; to familiarize students with the primary critical approaches used in the discipline today; and to provide guided practice in the key forms of professional writing that students will need to master to succeed in the profession. First, students will practice the close reading, annotation, and research skills necessary for graduate study. Second, students will become familiar with various critical modes and theoretical approaches (New Historicism, cultural materialism, psychoanalytic criticism, formalism, feminist criticism, queer theory, postcolonial theory, etc.) and will apply those methods to select literary texts (Frankenstein, Dracula, The Bluest Eye, Fun Home, Animal’s People, plus selected short poetry). And finally, students will learn and practice the conventions of key professional genres: the CV, the conference abstract, the conference paper, and the journal article.  

Literature of the United States through the Civil War

Instructor:  Wesley Raabe
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time:  Thursdays 5:30-8:00 PM
Delivery Method:  TBA
Course Number: ENG 6/7610

This course aims to provide a grounding in three related topics from the pre-1865 period in the litera- ture of the United States: 1) Revolution-era anxiety about liberal democracy that takes up companionate marriage as a metaphorical reflection on political anxieties, 2) antislavery narratives and Black-authored fictions that contemplate or elaborate rebellion against White Supremacy, and 3) mid-century cosmopoli- tan novels that recapitulate or critique norms with Sentimental or Gothic forms that echo and reformu- late Revolution-era tensions through the lens of urban anxieties about gender and social class.

The American Revolution drew many romancers to evaluate the relationship between the United States and Great Britain as an off-spring-to-parent relationship. Building on the work of scholars like Cathy Davis, the best-known of these parent-child and troubled marriage narratives—now often ex- cerpted or in companions to historical survey anthologies—include Wells Brown’s The Power of Sympathy and Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple. We won’t read those, but we are going to read two novels from this era, recent proposed additions to the literary canon: Brockden Brown’s Ormond and Vickery’s Emily Hamilton.

For a hinge narrative that orders our transition to the 1850s we will read Catherine Sedgwick’s Clarence and a set of antislavery narratives: Equiano, Douglass, Truth, Wells Brown, and Jacobs. No- tably, we will be skipping another hinge option, frontier narratives of Fenimore Cooper and Sedgwick. We will then turn to four mid-century narratives: Delany’s Blake; or, The Huts of America, Lippard’s Quaker City, Melville’s Pierre; or The Ambiguities, and Fanny Fern’s Ruth Hall. We omit oodles of interesting stuff—marriage narratives, frontier narratives, drama, poetry, etc.—because we can’t read everything. If you lament the omissions—as I do—contact me for supplemental readings, an alternative complement than standard surveys of American Literature anthologies for pre-1865 literature. I will ask PhD stu- dents to read and report on one major scholarly survey of American Literature from the period, the type of survey found in qualifying exam reading lists.



Literary Editing & Publishing

Instructor: Hilary Plum
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time:  Wednesdays 7:30-8:50 PM
Delivery Method:  TBA
Course Number: ENG 597

This course offers a comprehensive study of the structures and issues defining contemporary publishing, as well as case studies in small press, magazine, and DIY literary projects. Students will gain both practical skills and theoretical background in the work of literary editing. The course will consider the editorial process and author/editor relationships; the history, tradition, and forms of the book; connections between presses and larger cultural communities; reading publics in the internet age; and the role of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook. We will consider how to develop an editorial aesthetic and editorial practices, as well as practical approaches to budgets, mission statements, online platforms, submissions, design, and distribution. Students will articulate connections between their own work and the social, cultural, and economic contexts of contemporary publishing. Our coursework will culminate in a final publishing project that students will design, with instructor guidance, and in which they may pursue their own interests (in web or print publication; translation; book design; marketing; etc.). This course is recommended for those interested in interning or reading for the Cleveland State University Poetry Center, the Vindicator, Whiskey Island, or other literary and cultural publications.

This is listed as a combined undergraduate/graduate course; please be advised that it will be taught in two sections and graduate students will meet separately from undergraduate students.

Contact: h.plum@csuohio.edu

YA Literature

Instructor: Dr. Heather Braun
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time:  Tuesdays &Thursdays 12:15-1:30 PM
Delivery Method:  In Person
Course Number: ENG 3300:589-003

In a 2020 interview, Jason Reynolds described young adult writers as “those of us who acknowledge the humanity of young people...the complexity and the beauty and the sophistication of childhood.” With this description as our starting point, we will explore the evolution of young adult literature over the past century, including contemporary debates about what YA literature is, what it should contain, and who should be reading it. Focusing on first-person narrators who are entering, immersed in, or about to leave their teenage years, we will consider classic adolescent novels such as J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye (1951) and S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders (1967) alongside contemporary YA novels including Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park (2013) and Namina Forna’s The Gilded Ones (2021). At the end of the course, students will introduce one new YA novel that speaks to significant themes of the course and where the genre may be heading in the next decade.

Argument & Research Writing

Instructor: Dr. Lance Svehla
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time:  N/A
Delivery Method:  Online, asynchronous
Course Number: ENG 3300:689-501

This course explores the teaching, reading, and writing of argument and research.  In it, we will attempt to both expand and refine the perception of what argument is, what research is, and what each can be.  We will contemplate the value of argument and research not only for the academy but also for a democratic society and for personal growth.  Students will create lesson plans, read a variety of classical and contemporary essays, and write a series of essays on self-selected topics.

New Poetry

Instructor: Dr. Jon Miller
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time:  Tuesdays & Thursdays 10:45 AM-12:00 PM
Delivery Method:  In Person
Course Number:  ENG 3300:589-002

In this course we will read, discuss, and write about poetry that has been published in the last year or two. We will read new magazines, anthologies, and books. Satisfies the English major requirement for American Literature after 1865 and the poetry requirement. Satisfies the M.A. in Literature requirement for American Literature 1865-present.

Disease in Literature

Instructor: Dr. Hillary Nunn
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time:  Mondays, Wednesdays, &Fridays 11:50 AM-12:40 PM
Delivery Method: In Person
Course Number: ENG 3300:589-001

This course will interrogate literary representations of illness and its effects on individuals and communities, as well as society’s perceptions of those who are sick. We will be reading works from different time periods to understand historical perceptions of disease, its mental and physical effects, and its perceived moral and bodily causes. With attention to medical history and cultural studies, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, we will examine the ways that the mechanics of illness lend meaning to literary works, and vice versa. Satisfies the English major requirement for American Literature after 1865.



NEOMFA Internship: Writer in the Community

Instructor: Katie Daley
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time:  Mondays 5:30-8:15 PM
Delivery Method: Online, synchronous
Course Number: ENG 66895

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. It will meet every Monday evening for the first part of the semester and shift to every other week after residencies begin. In class, students will explore community-based learning and what it means to be a literary teaching artist in the field of service learning. Students will apply academic experience to community-based projects and build a resource of lessons and writing samples for a variety of populations. We will also study creative writing pedagogy currently used in the community. Students will engage in field experience in hospitals, shelters, community centers, senior centers, and correctional facilities. Students will be expected to teach in the community a minimum of one hour a week for six to ten weeks at a location agreed upon by the student and instructor.

Contact: kdaley5@kent.edu

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