Image of books stacked on top of one another

Fall 2023 Courses

Registration for core NEOMFA courses (workshops, craft and theory courses, MFA literature courses, and the internship) begins 12 am, April 11. See details on the NEOMFA registration page (and sent by email).

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




Book 1

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

This is a workshop class for MFA students working on a book-length project: (novel/novel-in-stories/short-story-collection). The workshop is designed to help you generate work through a series of prompts, and to provide a creative and productive space for your work to be read with rigor. My assumption is that you’re here with a terrific project in mind, or that you’re here to generate enough work to be able to be able to identify an exciting new project. My hope is that we can talk about a few different paths your work could travel as well as how it could keep going down the same path, but in a more interesting way. I also hope you will use this class to take some risks as both writer and reader, to go beyond your comfort zone, to understand that success inevitably takes numerous detours through failure. Our guides through this journey will be two story collections (Kelly Link's White Cat, Black Dog & Jamil Jan Kochai's The Haunting of Hajji Hotak), two novels (Nana Kwame Adjei Brenyah's Chain Gang All Stars & Mona Awad's Rouge) & Jeff Vandermeer's terrific generative Wonderbook.

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

Craft & Theory: Satire & Social Commentary

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

This class will explore how contemporary novelists make use of satire, humor, and social commentary in their writing and the ways cultural and political landscapes are brought into sharper focus through works of fiction. We’ll read novels that employ humor (dark or otherwise), satire, speculative elements, and/or absurdity to lay bare the deeper realities of one’s work, identity, and desires. Our reading list will consider race and identity in novels like We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin and Yellowface by R. F. Kuang; myth and magic in Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk; social and gender constructs in The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings and We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry; and professional strife in Ripe by Sarah Rose Etter and Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher. We’ll examine the craft and function of satire in these works and others while completing writing assignments designed to bring humor to the page.

Fiction Workshop

Instructor: Chris Barzak
Campus: Youngstown State University
Day & Time: Thursdays, 5–7:40 PM
Delivery Method: Online synchronous
Course Number: ENGL 6967 (CRN: 45602)

In this class we will discuss techniques for the writing and revision of fiction at various lengths and in various modes and genres. We will work to create a constructive workshop setting in which critical techniques can be discussed and employed. We will also talk about the purposes of fiction: not only its abilities to entertain and enlighten, but also its role in reflecting or shaping culture. Our prime objective, though, will be to create, critique, and revise stories or portions of novellas and novels.

Contact cmbarzak@ysu.edu to register




CNF Workshop: Interiority as Genre or, Just Navel Gazing

Instructor: Joseph Earl Thomas, Writer-in-Residence
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time: Thursday, 6:00–8:50 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENG 611, sec 50

Interiority, as it is traditionally constructed or considered, tends to be our best attempt at translating consciousness from one human, or non-human subject, to another. But for what purpose? In the genre we call creative nonfiction, perhaps memoir, primarily written in the first person, is our best example: the writer attempts to convey a series of inner thoughts which construct a narrative, history, or feeling over the course of a single day or several decades. Writing about the self however, or, a self, tends to face the rather long standing charge of “navel gazing,” perhaps even when self-discovery is crucial to one’s understanding of, and relation to, the world. In this class we will consider the necessity of developing, maintaining, and crafting a rich and thoroughly questioning interior life. The self as questioning, the self as character, will be central to developing an understanding of the world across categories of difference and, generating a formal voice which can sustain us as writers across a spate of genre conventions. This is a workshop course which will begin with readings by published writers like Melissa Febos, bell hooks, Mitchell Jackson, and Lacy M. Johnson for discussions on craft and generative exercises, before turning to workshop our own collective writing.

Contact h.plum@csuohio.edu to register

Craft & Theory of Creative Nonfiction: The Contemporary Memoir

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

Over the past generation or so, the memoir has emerged as the dominant stylistic and commercial force in American nonfiction. In this MFA craft & theory course, we will trace the history and influence of the “nobody memoir,” books written by common people about some important facet of their lives, beginning with groundbreaking works by Tobias Wolff and Mary Karr and continuing to the present. We will also explore the way celebrities and influencers have used the genre to present their narratives. In addition to Wolff and Karr, the reading list (subject to change) will include Alison Bechdel, Patti Smith, Brian Broome, and Rob Sheffield. Students will write and present critical essays and produce their own works of personal nonfiction.

Contact Mary Biddinger at marybid@uakron.edu with the subject line “NEOMFA class request” to register



Graduate Writing Seminar: Poetry (NEOMFA Poetry Workshop)

Instructor: Dr. Mary Biddinger
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Mondays, 5:20–7:50 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENGL 689-801

In this course we will use traditional and nontraditional approaches to workshopping poems, with individual students determining how they would like their work to be discussed. The majority of class time will be dedicated to considering student poems, but we will also have occasional readings and conversations on topics such as sending work out for publication and writing a series of poems.

Contact Mary Biddinger at marybid@uakron.edu with the subject line “NEOMFA class request” to register


Craft & Theory of Poetry: Loose Meters & Free Forms: A Study of Form in Contemporary Poetry

Instructor: Catherine Wing
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: Tuesdays, 4:25–7:05 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENG 66895, sec 001

“Form is a straightjacket in the way that a straightjacket was a straightjacket for Houdini.”                                                                                   —Paul Muldoon, in an interview for The Irish Times 

If Louis Sullivan’s dictum that “form ever follows function” is true, then what can be said of form’s role in poetry?  Even on clear (and optimistic) days the function of poetry remains somewhat elusive, while the idea of strict poetic form leaves many poets uneasy.  Are we, as Frost would have it, “playing tennis with the net down,” or have we, a la Ezra Pound, freed ourselves from “the sequence of the metronome” and “the shackles of the iamb”?  In this class we will explore form’s role in poetry, as we consider where we might stand in relation to it, as writers.  The class will serve as an introduction to (and practice of) form’s basic mechanics, as well as an investigation of what effects these techniques have on a reader.  We’ll look at the evolution of form over time—sapphics to sonnets, iambs to Oulipo—to determine what different structures can accomplish.  No formal background required, just an open mind and a willingness to experiment. 

Contact cwing1@kent.edu to register



Playwriting Workshop, Adaptation

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

This course focuses on the craft of adapting works from various other genres into new stage plays. We’ll review the core concerns of dramatic writing–scene construction, character arcs, beats, plot vs. story, and so on–in part to make this class more accessible to writers from the fiction, nonfiction, and poetry tracks. Then, we’ll look at the primary gestures of adaptation, seeking ways to draw out and heighten the dramatic and theatrical elements from works in other modes. Finally, we’ll apply our insights in the creation of our own adapted pieces.

“Adaptation” is a term with multiple implications in the dramatic writing world, and we’ll explore a range of faithful and free-form samples accordingly. In addition to plays based on novels, poems, and archival material, we’ll look at hybrid pieces mixing elements from multiple sources, modernizations of classical tragedies, new musicals based on old songs, and various other reinterpretations. Our own creative projects will include a series of 10-minute plays and a final project in the form of an approximately 45-page one-act.

As noted above, this workshop is designed in part for MFA students concentrating on other genres. Given that, we will proceed from the assumption that such participants are new to drama, but are serious about their overall craft and committed to expanding their repertoires. Skills in other areas will be useful for our work, but it’s not necessary for, say, fiction writers to adapt fiction, or for poets to adapt poems, etc. Playwriting is unique among the literary forms, and writers from other specializations often are surprised by where it takes them



Hemingway and Fitzgerald

Instructor: Robert Trogdon
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time:  Thursdays, 4:25–7:05 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENG 66595

Hemingway and Fitzgerald are perhaps the most popular and
most critically important American writers of the 20 th Century. Friends and rivals, the twowriters shared an editor, a publisher and a group of friends. This course will examine their relationship and influence on the other author’s work. Special attention will be paid
to the short stories of both writers.

Contact rtrogdon@kent.edu to register

Queer Comics

Instructor: Dr. Christopher Michael Roman
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: Tuesdays, 4:25–7:00 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENG 66401

In the past several years, there’s been an explosion of queer comics—that is, “comic books, strips, graphic novels, and webcomics that deal with LGBTQ themes,” as professor and cartoonist Justin Hall writes. These contemporary works are part of a queer genealogy that stretches over four decades. This seminar will introduce students to this rich history of queer comics in America from the 1960s through the present. We will consider how these works represented various identities and current events over time and how and where these comics were published and circulated. While this course will focus on understanding comics through queer, trans, feminist, gender, and sexuality studies approaches, students will also be introduced to the field of comics studies. This course will also be useful for students with an interest in contemporary North American literature, cultural studies, marginalized histories and creators, book history, grassroots publishing, memoir studies, visual and popular cultures. Professionalization activities, thinking about comics as queer archives, as well as, digital approaches to comics and queer scholarship will accompany the completion of a final project. (CW: some of the texts we read in this course contain nudity and depictions of sex).

Contact croman2@kent.edu to register


Instructor: Don-John Dugas
Campus: Kent State University
Day & Time: Mondays, 4:25–7:05 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENG 66051

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, who are very welcome, are encouraged to research and engage with the robust scholarship that exists about the teaching of Shakespeare.

Contact ddugas@kent.edu to register



Literary Editing & Publishing

Instructor: Zach Peckham
Campus: Cleveland State University
Day & Time: Tuesdays, 6–8:50 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENG 497/597

This course will study the structures and practices of contemporary book and journal publishing. We will examine both print and online publishing, ranging from multinational corporations to independent publishers, small presses, and DIY literary projects. Topics will include the editorial process and author/editor relationships; the history, tradition, and forms of the book; funding, labor, and the publishing workforce; publishing as culture-making; reading publics in the internet age; and the role of Amazon, Apple, Google, and social media. Students will gain both theoretical background in the work of literary editing and practical skills (such as approaches to budgets, mission statements, online platforms, submissions, and distribution). The coursework will culminate in a final project that students will design, with instructor guidance, according to their own interests. This course may contain a collaborative laboratory component and is recommended for those interested in interning for the Cleveland State University Poetry Center, the Vindicator, Whiskey Island, or other literary and cultural publications.

Contact z.peckham@csuohio.edu to register

Perspectives in Multicultural Studies

Instructor: Dolores Sisco
Campus: Youngstown State University
Day & Time: Wednesdays, 5:10–7:50 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENGL 6963 (CRN: 45750)

An advanced study of primary and secondary texts from the field of multicultural literature and multicultural education. The course will emphasize the formation of social identities, the intersections of race, class, and gender, relationships among dominant and nondominant subjects in U.S. and other global cultures. The course will pay special attention to the theory and application of multiculturalist paradigms to education, professional work, and graduate study.

(This can also count as a literature course.)

Contact dvsisco@ysu.edu to register

American Women Poets

Instructor: Dr. Jon Miller
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:15–1:30 PM
Delivery Method: In-person
Course Number: ENGL 553-001

In this course we will study and write about the work of selected poets. We'll start with Emily Dickinson and Gertrude Stein and finish the course with a series of brand-new collections.

Contact Mary Biddinger at marybid@uakron.edu with the subject line “NEOMFA class request” to register

Jewish American Literature

Instructor: Dr. Patrick Chura
Campus: University of Akron
Day & Time: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 12:55–1:45 PM
Delivery Method: Online synchronous
Course Number: ENGL 589-001

A contextualized study of Jewish-American literature from the late 18th century to the present. Class discussions will consider the longstanding anxieties of hyphenated identity, the trials of assimilation, and the American necessity to witness to the Holocaust. We will also explore literary responses to the recent rise in antisemitic violence in the United States. Authors studied include Rebecca Samuel, Emma Lazarus, Abraham Cahan, Mary Antin, Anzia Yezierska, Mike Gold, Bernard Malamud, Cynthia Ozick, Allegra Goodman, Dara Horn.

Contact Mary Biddinger at marybid@uakron.edu with the subject line “NEOMFA class request” to register



NEOMFA Internship

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


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