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CW 170 — Reading as a Writer: A One-Week Intensive

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Monday - Friday
Course Format: On-campus (About Formats)
Duration: 5 days
Date(s): Jul 17—Jul 21
Time: 12:30—5:30 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jul 10
Units: 2
Tuition: $630
Instructor(s): Jonah Willihnganz
Limit: 22
Class Recording Available: No
Status: Closed
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Monday - Friday
12:30—5:30 pm (PT)
Jul 17—Jul 21
5 days
Refund Date
Jul 10
2 Units
Jonah Willihnganz
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
One of the best ways to become a skilled writer is to become a skilled reader. In this immersion seminar, you will learn to read in a way you were probably never taught in literature courses—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 James Baldwin, Ocean Vuong, Louise Erdrich, Ted Chiang, Leslie Jamison, Eula Biss, Pico Iyer, Cheryl Strayed, Ross Gay, Colum McCann, Ha Jin, Tobias Wolff, and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Director, Stanford Storytelling Project; Co-Founder, LifeWorks Program for Integrative Learning; Bruce Braden Lecturer of Narrative Studies, Stanford

Jonah Willihnganz has taught courses in writing and literature at Stanford since 2002. He has published fiction, essays, and literary criticism, and his research focuses on how stories and storytelling can heal the mind. He received an MFA from Hollins University and a PhD in English from Brown.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.) (ISBN 978-0060777050)
(Required) Alice LaPlante, Method and Madness: The Making of a Story: A Guide to Writing Fiction (ISBN 978-0393928174 )
(Recommended) Jack Hart, Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction (ISBN 978-0226318165)
(Recommended) Catherine Brady, Story Logic and the Craft of Fiction (ISBN 978-0230580558)
(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)