Instructor: Griffith T/R 11:00am-12:20pm
Broadly speaking, the goal of a Forms course is to learn how to approach literary texts from the perspective of a writer. Though writing workshops are at the heart of any creative-writing program, Forms is perhaps more like “shop class” than workshop is. Instead of focusing on our own compositions, we’ll spend most of the semester taking things apart and putting them back together, trying to understand how well-made works of fiction are constructed on the level of craft and style.
In this particular section of Forms, we’ll be reading a number of third-person narratives and focusing specifically on questions of narrative distance and tone. Though the tendency for a lot of beginning writers is to reach for first-person, with all of its built-in immediacy, third-person is a rich and varied tradition that offers a stunning array of narrative options, registers, and moods, ranging from total omniscience to the closest narrative intimacy. As Truman Capote reminds us, “All literature is gossip”—a highly evolved form of talking about other people. As we read these stories and novels, we’ll ask: What is it about a fictional character that makes us want to keep talking about them? And what is it about a narrative voice that draws us in and makes us eager to listen?