Courses

Every semester the Department of English at Georgetown University offers numerous courses that foster students’ exploration of poetics and creative writing, including courses taught by the Lannan Committee members, Lannan Director, and Lannan Foundation Chair of Poetics.

In order to view the complete current course offerings, visit the University Registrar’s page. Select the semester you would like to view from the left-hand panel, then select ‘English’ for ENGL courses or ‘Writing’ for WRIT courses in the subject category. 


Fall 2021

Lower-Level Electives

Modern & Contemporary Poems & Poetics I ENGL 164
David Gewanter

In this course, we’ll discuss and study terrific Modern and contemporary poems, and contend with some poets’ essays that (seemingly) advocate for such poems. Breakthrough Modernist poems have helped establish our sense of the world; we now drift through a murky era named “the Post Modern.” This course will test poems against their poets’ claims, and against our own, developed readings of poems. We may briefly consider some Romantic poems, then study the titanic Moderns—Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, WC Williams, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, and others; then we’ll follow several of the outwardly spiraling clusters of significant poets since then. You need not be very experienced in reading poems; you may even find poems difficult, murky, or bewildering. I only ask, be ready to jump in! Text: Ramazani & Ellmann’s Norton Anthology of Modern & Contemporary Poetry (both volumes), and some short single books of poems. We’ll attend some of our Lannan poetry readings as well. Your written work will include: explication of texts; short essays; theatre review; (possible) in-class report; some poems composed by you (ungraded).

African American Poetry | ENGL 227
Libbie Rifkin
In this class, we’ll explore African American poetry and culture from Phillis Wheatley to the history behind and poetic response to the Black Lives Matter movement. We’ll pay special attention to the social movements that have nurtured African American art, including the New Negro/Harlem Renaissance, Black Arts Movement, and the current movements for justice and human rights, and ask questions about what kind of political work art can do. We’ll encounter a wide range of poets, from Paul Laurence Dunbar and Gwendolyn Bennett, to contemporary poets Harryette Mullen and Claudia Rankine, to Tupac and Kendrick Lamar. We will also devote extensive study to the pivotal careers of poets Gwendolyn Brooks and Amiri Baraka, and consider issues of identity, form, power, and voice with respect to the changing social conditions of African American experience.

Intro to Creative Writing I ENGL 280
David Gewanter

In this course, we’ll study and produce four genres of creative writing: poetry, fiction, personal prose, and dialogue. We will explore and discuss great models of each of these forms; we will try our hand at composing our own poems, stories, personal essays, and dialogue (for radio); and we’ll write short analyses on our texts. We’ll also hear craft lectures from the great writers in our Department who produce these works. The authors under study include Semezdin Mehmedinovic, Stephen Crane, D.H. Lawrence, Michael Ondaatje, Anna Deavere Smith, and a number of poets. We’ll follow Ondaatje through the genres. Our course is designed for those who have some experience in studying and writing in at least one of these genres. Please be prepared for intensive research in how each form of writing happens, how it renders human experience, voice, plot, statement, vision, and more. Be prepared both to produce your own texts, and to share your draft work with others.

Intro Poetry and Prose Workshop I ENGL 281
Mark McMorris
This course will serve as an introduction for students who are new, or fairly new, to the art of poetic composition. We will explore the basic components of the poem: the word, line, stanza or strophe; metrical patterns, rhythm, & acoustic structures; the language of figuration (metaphor and simile); the positions of speaker and addressee; problematic notions such as the “voice” and the use of conversational idiom; and the place of emotion, personal experience, memory, the senses and sensation, and other texts, in composition. Our study of poetic form will meander from the conventional verse of the British and American tradition to more recent developments in experimental writing.

Creative Non-Fiction Writing I ENGL 282
Alice Sandosharaj

An intensive writing workshop focused on discovering, researching, and crafting first-person nonfiction, including memoir, personal essay, travel writing, literary journalism, and sports writing. Students should expect to read and write extensively, as well as share their own work often.

Intro to Script Writing I ENGL 284
John Glavin

This course is designed to introduce students to the fundamental elements of writing for the large (film) and small (television) screen. It roots in the core precept that plot is character is action. Which means that the first object of study for all dramatic writing must be the examination of character. In workshop exercises, complemented by theoretical models from Keirsey and Greimas, students develop techniques for character analysis and development. At the same time, week by week, they examine character development in iconic films from a wide range of periods and genres. By the end of the term each student will have generated a short (20 minute) film for television and a short (20 minute) film for the wider screen. Students should note that in addition to class meetings during the week, they are also required to attend throughout the term regular film screenings on Sunday afternoons.

Writing for a Cause | ENGL 285
Dennis Williams
This class will provide an introduction to the craft of fiction writing. Using short stories and prose excerpts by various writers as models, this course will show you how to create fiction for the purpose of social action. You need not be an experienced fiction writer in order to take this course; you need only be excited by the opportunity to advocate for a cause through thoughtful and intentional storytelling. You will write a brief (2-3 pages) response paper for each of 8-10 assigned readings, examining how these artists identify and address injustice in their work. You will also complete a few writing exercises to practice technique and approach. The primary goal of the course, however, will be for each student to produce, through extensive drafts, one solid, 20-page piece of short fiction that takes a position on a public issue.

Upper-level electives

Gender and Care in Modern US Poetry I ENGL 443
Libbie Rifkin
In this class, we’ll explore modern and contemporary American poetry through the lenses of gender and disability theory, particularly as they center the question of care. We’ll examine the way a range of poets, with and without disabilities, take up critical questions in their work, including: how do we care for one another from childhood through aging? How are our relationships of care charged with the power dynamics of race, class, immigration status, and gender? Does the work of care conflict with or engender creativity in poetry? And how might understanding ourselves through our dependency on others reframe such core American values as independence and rational individualism? Since much of the work of care (both familial and non-familial, unpaid and inadequately paid) has been assigned to women and femme-identified people, they will make up the bulk of our syllabus. We’ll examine the writing lives of selected 20th and 21st century women poets who played significant roles in shaping the literary fields in which they worked, and we’ll think about poetic community as a form of care. Some poets we’ll consider include: Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Audre Lorde, Alice Notley, and Lucille Clifton. We’ll also cull new canons of work from movements and communities such as HIV/AIDS, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and immigration rights. This course participates in the Disability Studies Program event series. Students will attend lectures and performances by renowned disability theorists, advocates, and artists.

Advanced Script Writing I ENGL 457
John Glavin

Registration in this class requires instructor approval All interested students should contact Prof. Glavin for further information about the course. An individual tutorial offered to students who have successfully completed Intermediate Screenwriting. The student will complete an original, full-length feature script in a genre and with a story line of the student’s choice.

20C Poetry | ENGL 655
Mark McMorris