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EGL 70 — Reading as a Writer: A One-Week Intensive

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Mon - Fri
Course Format: On-campus course
Duration: 1 week
Date(s): Jun 26—Jun 30
Time: 12:30—5:30 pm
Drop Deadline: Jun 19
Units: 2
Tuition: $540
Instructor(s): Jonah Willihnganz
Limit: 21
Summer
On-campus course
Mon - Fri
12:30—5:30 pm
Date(s)
Jun 26—Jun 30
1 week
Drop By
Jun 19
2 Units
Fees
$540
Instructor(s):
Jonah Willihnganz
Limit
21
Closed
One of the best ways to become a skilled writer is to become a skilled reader. In this special immersion seminar, you will learn to read in a way you were probably never taught in literature classes—not as a critic but as a craftsperson, an apprentice in the guild. You will learn how to X-ray any piece of writing from its design to its prose, so that you can make its strategies your own. Examining contemporary masters like Alice Munro, Joan Didion, and George Saunders, you will learn, for example, what makes a particular physical description effective, how to advance plot with dialogue, and how to subtly develop a piece’s insight.

Since the aim of skilled reading is skilled writing, you will try out techniques in short exercises, but we will not critique manuscripts. We will discuss traditional and experimental approaches to fiction and creative nonfiction. And we will look at design elements (like plot, point of view, and image systems) and prose elements (patterns that help produce narrative voice, style, and tone). Other authors we will consider include Adam Gopnik, Alice Walker, Michael Pollan, Stanley Elkin, Cheryl Strayed, Dave Eggers, and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Please note: Students attending this course can take public transportation to class, park in a lot with a parking permit machine, or purchase "Visitor Scratcher" permits at the P&TS office. Please click here for more details.

Jonah Willihnganz, Director, Stanford Storytelling Project; Bruce Braden Lecturer of Narrative Studies, Stanford

Jonah Willihnganz has taught courses in writing and literature at Stanford since 2002 and is a former fellow of the Stanford Humanities Center. He has published fiction, essays, and literary criticism, and occasionally performs for the Porchlight Storytelling Series in San Francisco. He received an MFA in creative writing from Hollins University and a PhD in English from Brown.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer (ISBN 978-0060777050)
(Required) Catherine Brady, Story Logic and the Craft of Fiction (ISBN 978-0230580558)
(Required) Jack Hart, Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction (ISBN 0226318168)
(Recommended) Alice LaPlante, Method and Madness: The Making of a Story (ISBN 0393928179)
(Recommended) Maddison Smartt Bell, Narrative Design: Working with Imagination, Craft, and Form (ISBN 978-0393320213)
(Recommended) Patsy Sims, Literary Nonfiction: Learning by Example (ISBN 978-0195138443)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)