ENG209 Creative Writing Workshop, Lee Foust, Spring 2020 | SACI College of Art & Design Florence

ENG209 Creative Writing Workshop, Lee Foust, Spring 2020

This course is a creative writing workshop keyed to, but not restricted to, exploring the experience of living and traveling abroad through writing about our experiences in Florence and abroad. Along with the weekly writing workshops, we will also read and discuss texts that focus on Europe and Italy from both the native and foreign perspectives, noting particularly the literary techniques and strategies that various writers have used to express their experiences of and in Italy. Our class sessions will be divided almost equally between these two activities. One of our two weekly sessions will be devoted to the examination of a text dealing with various American, English, Austrian, French, and Italian authors’ experiences of Italy. These texts will provide us with a forum for discussing the literary expression of place and one’s relationship to those places as well as showcasing various literary forms, genres and techniques that we might find useful in the formulation of our own texts. The readings will also provide us with models for weekly writing assignments that will ward off any writer’s block. In these classes we will also listen to various authors reading their texts aloud and consider the aesthetics of performance.

The second weekly class session will function as a writer’s workshop: each student will present his/her own textual productions orally (accompanied by copies for everyone) to the group for reactions, critique, and suggestions for revision. The weekly writing assignments will be particularly useful for beginners but should also help more experienced writers in an attempt to goad them into trying new techniques based on the weekly readings. You will of course be absolutely free to write about things other than the foreign experience for the workshops—especially if you have a particular project in mind. Our ultimate goal will be to produce a finalized, substantial text—or series of short texts—suitable for performance and/or publication in the literary world beyond this class.

Your final grade will represent the average of three separate grades for three different categories of text production and participation in this course.

  1. You will be graded on the texts that you produce—those presented during the workshop sessions, anything you hand in to me privately, as well as the weekly assignments—not only on their overall number but how well they reflect a consistent effort to move ahead with your writing, to improve and diversify it.
  2. You will be graded on how well you use and participate in both the workshop and reading sessions—how many texts you present, how well you give and take criticism, the success of your re-writes and your contribution to the discussions on others’ readings and performances. This grade will also be affected by your attendance. And,
  3. You will be graded on your final project—its quality, polish and overall success.

NOTE: I will not be able to give a passing grade to students who fail to participate regularly in the workshops, produce considerably fewer texts than the class average or are absent 5 or more times (as per SACI regulations). 


Week 1

Monday, January 13
Course introduction.
Listening: Allen Ginsberg reading “Europe! Europe!”
Assignment: First impressions of Florence in any form.

Wednesday, January 15
Self-presentations, round robin reading: Who are we? Where are we? Where did we come from?

Week 2

Monday, January 20
Reading discussion: Mark Twain on Florence and Italy from The Innocents Abroad: Satirizing the self and the other.
Assignment: Write about your awkwardness in Florence and/or Italian awkwardness in your eyes in prose.

Wednesday, January 22
Presentation of students’ work and discussion.

9 pm - Upstairs @Caffe degli Artigiani, Via dello Sparone, 15r (Piazza della Passera)
Reading by Lee Foust (Make-up class for Easter Monday)

Week 3

Monday, January 27
Reading discussion: Selected poems from Rainer Maria Rilke’s New Poems: The objective correlative.
Listening: Henry Miller reading from The Colossus of Maurussi.
Assignment: Describe two things you have seen in Florence as objective correlatives in either verse or prose.

Wednesday, January 29
Presentation of students’ work and discussion.

Week 4

Monday, February 3
Reading Discussion: Ernest Hemingway’s “Che ti dice la patria?”: The politics of scenery.
Listening: Hemingway “In Harry’s Bar in Venice”: Self-satire.
Assignment: Describe an event from in your life in Florence that seemed to symbolically represent a truth about Italy or Italians in prose or verse.

Wednesday, February 5
Presentation of students’ work and discussion.

Week 5

Monday, February 10
Reading: Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Apennine”: Cognitive mapping.
Listening: Pier Paolo Pasolini reads with music by Ennio Morricone.
Assignment: Describe the place which you are most familiar (with characters and an event if you can) in either prose or verse.

Wednesday, February 12
Presentation of students’ work and discussion.

Week 6

Monday, February 17
Reading: Malcolm Lowry’s short story “Present Estate of Pompeii”: Tourist fiction.
Assignment: Write a short story or a poem about your travels around Italy/Europe.

Wednesday, February 19
Presentation of students’ work and discussion.

Week 7

Monday, February 24
Reading: Excerpt from Germaine de Stael’s novel Corinne, or Italy: Italy as a woman.
Assignment: If Italy and the USA were persons what would they be like? How would they interact?

Wednesday, February 26
Presentation of students’ work and discussion.


Week 8

MIDTERM BREAK (February 29 - March 8)


Week 9

Monday, March 9
Reading: Angela Carter’s “The Tiger’s Bride”: Italy as a backdrop.
Assignment: Write a short narrative (can be in verse) using an Italian setting.

Wednesday, March 11
Presentation of students’ work and discussion.

Week 10

Monday, March 16
Reading: F. T. Marinetti’s Manifesto of Futurist Writing and Words-in-Freedom: freeing words from sense, grammar and the printing press.
Assignment: Write a text in which you try to free your words from sense, grammar and/or the confines of the printing press.

Wednesday, March 18
Presentation of students’ work and discussion.

Week 11

Monday, March 23
Reading: Patti Smith’s “Italy (The Round)”: Italy and the American avant-garde.
Reading: Excerpt from Kathy Acker’s novel My Death My Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini.
Listening: Patti Smith reading with and without music: Place as transcendence.
Assignment: Describe an imaginative, second-hand Italy culled from books, films, conversations, etc.

Wednesday, March 25
Presentation of students’ work and discussion.

Week 12

Monday, March 30
Reading and Listening: Ezra Pound's "Canto III": The landscape of memory.
Assignment: Write a first person memory along with whatever associations it provokes in you in either verse or prose.

Wednesday, April 2
Presentation of students’ work and discussion.

Week 13

Monday, April 6
Presentation of students’ work and discussion.

Wednesday, April 8
Presentation of students’ work and discussion

Week 14

Monday, April 13
Easter Monday - no class.

Wednesday, April 15
Presentation of students’ work and discussion

Week 15

Monday, April 20
Presentation of semester projects pt. I

Wednesday, April 22
Presentation of semester projects pt. II

Friday, April 24
6:30 - 7:00 pm ~ Spoken Words: Readings by SACI Creative Writing Students in SACI's Clayton Hubbs Lecture Hall


All reading assignments are collected into a photocopy packet available at Copisteria X, Via San Gallo, 72r. (Tel: 055/215367)


Grading is based on attendance, effort, improvement, and demonstration of knowledge gained through the course.

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