Attentive Resistance

ENGL210 Introduction to Creative Writing

Course Description

Instructor – Jacqueline Cornetta |

Location – Klapper Hall 333
Hours – Monday & Wednesday 10:45-12:00

Office hours: Monday and Wednesday 12:30-1:30 & by appointment | Klapper Hall 340

English 210 – Introduction to Creative Writing:

Attentive Resistance

 This class is about exploring attentiveness; about attention to the sounds, images, actions, perspectives, patterns, dialogues, desires, and feelings that make literature meaningful. Developing a deeper relationship to words and language will begin from the outside, as readers, and move to the inside as we experiment with writing. Poet and translator Rosmarie Waldrop claims that “a crucial ‘no’ to what already exists is inherent in the urge to make.” If this is the case, what does or can literature say ‘no’ to or resist? Through our close reading of texts, both our own and others’, we will challenge our understandings of what words can do. Each week, writing exercises will provide parameters that disrupt or re-route our habitual practices in order to cultivate the particular kind of attentiveness that characterizes art.

 Course Description

Creative Writing is a discipline, and we will treat it as such. Half of our course will be devoted to the writing and reading of poetry, half to the writing and reading of fiction and drama. We will also explore craft issues concerning, though not excluding, music, form, and occasion. Students will be asked to consider fiction writing and playwriting from the perspective of psychological realism, foregrounding such strategies and techniques as style, tone, and diction, and such “fictional” and “dramatic” elements as dialogue, action, and description/stage direction. There will be weekly reading and writing assignments. All student writing will be subject to “workshopping” by the entire class.

Learning Goals:

  • To consider the interdependence of reading and the practice of writing;
  • To closely read given texts, identifying formal properties and the intellectual work they accomplish;
  • To develop a sensitivity to aesthetic decisions through critical reading, writing, and workshop discussions;
  • To read voraciously: that is, to read with the intent to break, borrow, and steal, then develop         strategies of making the work your own;
  • To develop a vocabulary for discussing poetry, fiction, and drama, and to actively participate in    creative writing workshop/community;
  • To love the craft more than you love yourself;
  • To complete a portfolio of poetry, fiction, and drama that takes into serious consideration the        critical comments offered by fellow students as well as the instructor;
  • To write a coherent, literary response paper.


Class Participation 40%

Responses 15%

Critiques 15%

Portfolio 30%

Assignments and participation:

All students must be prepared to thoughtfully discuss the student writing that is being work-shopped. Two copies of your critical response must be brought to class. Weekly written assignments will be due along with student comments. All assignments must be typed. I will not accept handwritten work—that includes your student responses.


This class will be divided into halves. The first half will be devoted to poetry. The second half will be devoted to fiction and drama. Work culled from the entire semester will be revised and submitted as a portfolio due during finals week. The portfolio will comprise of the following:

2-3 revised poems

1 revised story no longer than 20 pages (no genre fiction)
1 complete short story (flash fiction), not an excerpt: 1 page maximum

1 complete scene

Statement of poetics:
A two page, typed, double-spaced reflective statement in which you address any concerns or reflections you have regarding your own writing – consider, for example, what you would like your writing to do now that the class is ending – as well as class discussions throughout the semester.


On writing workshops, Kwame Dawes believes, “We begin with a basic and perhaps unfair premise: that the poet intended to achieve something specific and that we are seeking to help achieve this.” This class will incorporate, revise, re-imagine, and neglect the workshop model. Students will bring in X copies of a draft of a poem or short story or scene (I say draft because writing a poem or a short story or scene is already too much pressure. Our aim will be to produce as much material as possible, then get at the difficult work of revision). Next, students will produce a detailed typewritten response to each work submitted to the class. One copy of this response will go to the instructor. The instructor’s copy should include a response to each poem/short story/scene to be workshopped that day. The other copy will go to the student. I expect these responses to develop critically over the course of the semester. The length of these responses should be at least a paragraph for each poem/short story/scene. I expect you to respond with sensitivity, precision, and acuity to everything you read in this class.


By enrolling in this course, you have decided to participate in an academic community. To ensure the success of this community everyone must follow certain rules:


In this class we’ll encounter new ideas and different ways of thinking and reading things, in addition to practicing new and demanding skills. In order for us to be a successful community of scholars, we need to be respectful of each other’s learning processes. It is imperative that we treat one another with courtesy. Talking over your classmates or myself, sleeping, not having the necessary materials, or not having done the assignment, are all manifestations of disrespect and will be noted. Silence cell phones before you enter the classroom. Be aware that grades for participation are not only based on how thoughtfully you respond in class but also how respectful you are to your classmates, to me, and to your work.


The bulk of the course work will occur in class. Therefore, attendance and participation is crucial to your grade. Our class begins at 10:45, not 10:50 or 10:55. If you are unable to make it to class on time consistently, I suggest finding another class that better fits your schedule. Therefore, come to class on time and prepared—you must always have with you all assigned texts, and the assignments must read be in advance. Attendance is mandatory. If, due to circumstances beyond your control, you are going to miss class, contact me as soon as possible and arrange with other students to find out what was covered. I hold you responsible for any assignments given in your absence. Chronic absences and/or lateness will affect your participation grade. You are responsible for any work you may miss due to absence.


You are required to attend one public reading during the semester. I will notify you of on- campus readings you might attend. A short paper will be due in response to the reading.

Special Accommodations: We all have different preferred learning styles. Therefore, the organization of any course will accommodate each student in different ways. For example, one student may prefer to process information by speaking and listening, so that handouts may be difficult to absorb. This course is designed to explore a range of learning styles, but I am open to making adjustments to better acknowledge all students’ styles. Please communicate with me as soon as you can about your individual learning needs and how this course can best accommodate them. If you have a learning, sensory, or physical reason for special accommodation in this class, contact the Office of Special Services in 171 Kiely Hall at 718-997-5870 and please inform me.

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