Friday, January 30, 2015

Registration Instructions for SP QTR 15 MFA Students

NOTE: Registration instructions have changed as of Nov. 1, 2015. Please view the new instructions after that date. 

Steps for MFA student registration:

Review the SP QTR 15 MFA Class Schedule HERE.

Click on each class title that interests you to read all class info (instructor course description, class type, textbook info, etc.). Online students must also read the Online Class First Assignment post HERE and note the start date and changes from previous quarters.

As soon as you have decided on the class(es) you would like to take for spring quarter, email the program director at Note that for on-campus students, there is one 9-credit cluster available for spring that covers multiple genres. (Looking ahead to summer quarter, two clusters will be offered for on-campus students to choose from in that term: Fiction and Advanced Screenwriting.)

Spots will be reserved in classes in the order of emails received. To have the best chance of taking your preferred classes, email Beth as early as possible. It is fine to make changes later by emailing Beth with updated info. Note that specialized online classes often fill quickly (for spring, this may include the Sci-Fi Workshop, Young Adult Lit, Manuscript Preparation & Publication, and Sylvia Plath & the Tarot), so be sure to email Beth right away to reserve a spot. Beth will maintain wait lists for all classes, and classes that fill quickly may be offered again in summer or fall. 

While students may email Beth with class choices beginning January 31, registration does not begin until February 23. During the week of February 23, Beth will enroll all students who have reserved spots in classes, and she will send a confirmation email to all students after they have been registered.

If you have any questions, contact Beth at or 636-949-4524.

SP15 Thesis

Thesis students will first log into Blackboard during the week of April 13. Please note that the Blackboard class shell will not be ready for student view until that date.

To enroll in the thesis, list the thesis in your email to Beth along with your spring class requests for registration.

If you wish to request a specific thesis midterm reader (one of your previous MFA instructors), you must make the request in your email to Beth along with your spring class requests for registration. Beth will contact the instructor to see if he or she would be available to be a reader for spring quarter. If you have no preference, a midterm reader will be assigned to you based on instructor availability. Beth is the final reader for all theses at the end of the quarter to give final approval and cannot serve as a midterm reader.

Read the full THESIS GUIDELINES HERE. You will log into Blackboard once per week to help keep you on track as you work independently on your thesis throughout the quarter. Your first journal entry discussing your thesis concept will be due in Blackboard by Sunday, April 19. Looking ahead, the date that you will email the midterm draft/portion of your thesis to Beth (who will then forward your draft to your assigned midterm reader for feedback) is May 24, and your final thesis document, including your introductory essay, must be emailed to Beth by June 21. All details and additional requirements (journal entries, program survey, etc.) are posted in the weekly folders in Blackboard. Contact Beth with any questions about the thesis process.

If you have not yet completed the top portion of the degree application form and returned it to Beth, you must do so immediately, since we are past the deadline of December 30 for June degree completion. Once you have emailed or mailed this form to Beth, it will be submitted with a policy exemption to request approval to apply after the deadline. If you do not have the degree application form, email Beth to receive a copy. 

Creative Writing for MFA cluster

9-credit on-campus cluster (craft/workshop/literature): 
IMF515 Creative Writing for the MFA
IMF518 Adv Creative Writing
IMF580 Adv Manuscript Analysis

Instructor: Kelli Allen (

Meeting Time: Wednesdays from 6pm to 10pm, beginning Wed. April 8

Meeting Room: LUCC Conference Room

Instructor's Course Description:
This cluster will offer a survey of multiple genres. Each week, we will work on in-class prompts and will hold mini-workshops. The course will explore flash fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and genre writing (science fiction and fantasy). We will have weekly craft readings and discussions based on materials offered in-class and through online texts. The writing pace will be rigorous (and fun!). You will be expected to refine and develop your critical reading and writing skills as well as produce quality pieces of creative work. This is an excellent opportunity to stretch your boundaries and to improve upon your favorite and best areas as a writer while also discovering new forms.

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories
Jeff VanderMeer & Ann VanderMeer (Editors)
Tor Books

First Assignment:

1. At least three days prior to our first class meeting on Wed. April 8, email me [] a 1-2 page personal essay telling me what type of prose you enjoy writing (fiction, short memoir, journalism, poetry), how you would describe your writing aesthetic, and a few of your favorite authors and books. If you are published, where and in what genre? What events in your life brought you to writing? Please be certain I have these short essays at least three days prior to our first class. Be warned that I may (likely will) read some of your essays, or have you read them, aloud to the class.

2. Please have the Forward, Introduction, and pages 1-26 in The Weird read and ready for discussion at our first class on Wed. April 8.

Narrative Journalism

IMF566 Narrative Journalism

Instructor: Tony D'Souza (

Class Type: Workshop/Craft

Read full First Assignment post HERE for start date and other important information.

Instructor's class description:
Narrative journalism is the art of telling a true story, weaving research and facts into an engaging, page-turning piece of non-fiction that reads with energy, insight and depth. Readers love non-fiction as a means to better understand the world and people different from them. The task of the narrative journalist is to paint accurate and vivid portraits of people and subjects even the journalist, at the beginning of the writing, may know little about.

Media is changing quickly with many new online platforms for publishing narrative journalism; in fact, narrative journalism may be enjoying is most vibrant period ever. We will look at a diverse sampling of long narrative non-fiction pieces from some of the leading outlets today, including The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Harper's, and Vanity Fair. We'll discuss how to achieve the 'holy grail' of the narrative journalist — writing a piece with "three-dimensionality" — as well as investigate how to balance primary and secondary sources, dialogue, interviews, and hard facts with the demands of story-telling. Students will have free range to investigate whatever subjects are dear to their own hearts while building strong foundations as narrative journalists in this field of writing where publishers are actively looking for new writers and content.

We’ll not only explore non-fiction writing and publishing for today’s world, but also ethics, craft, the submissions process and the social importance of it all. The ability to write narrative journalism greatly diversifies a writer's range and ability to answer the question, "How do I tell this true tale in a way that always brings the reader along?"

No textbook is required.

The Prose Collection: Raymond Carver

IMF556 The Prose Collection: Raymond Carver

Instructor: Mary Anderson (

Class Type: Literature/Craft

Read full First Assignment post HERE for start date and other important information.

Instructor's class description:
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love established Raymond Carver as the “foremost practitioner of minimalist fiction.” Find out why it did not accurately represent the manuscript he originally submitted for publication. We will spend this quarter discovering, investigating, and pondering Carver’s fiction and how he managed to “breathe new life” into the short stories of the 1970s and ‘80s. He wrote “unsparingly about desperation and betrayal, about working-class frustrations, the rift between the sexes, and the ravages of alcohol” (Stull &Carroll, editors). Though his prose incorporated lyricism and compassion, it was complicated by his relationship with Gordon Lish, friend and editor. We will look at stories from Beginners, Cathedral, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? and more. See how knowing and understanding a master of early fiction helps your writing and expands your version of short story history and development.

Carver: Collected Stories
Raymond Carver
Library of America

The Personal Essay

IMF546 The Personal Essay

Instructor for Section OL1: Andrew Pryor (

Instructor for Section OL2: David Hollingsworth (

Class Type: Workshop/Craft

Read full First Assignment post HERE for start date and other important information.

Course description:
This course will focus on the wellspring of memory and reflection and the employment of narrative in creative nonfiction. Students will discuss a variety of personal essays, noting the use of voice, character development, sense of place and time, and narrative arc, and will write their own creative nonfiction pieces for workshop.

Tell It Slant
Miller and Paola

Focused Sci-Fi Workshop

FULL as of 2/2/15

IMF544 Genre Fiction Workshop: Focused Science Fiction Workshop: The New Weird

Instructor: Kelli Allen (

Class Type: Workshop/Craft

Read full First Assignment post HERE for start date and other important information.

Instructor's class description:
Science Fiction Focused Workshop: The New Weird!
Going back to its Lovecraftian roots, this subgenre of science fiction takes the strangest concepts of a scientific universe and marries them with the odd while blending some fantasy elements into the mix. The New Weird embraces gothic imagery, poetic language, horror, dystopia, and alternate realities, to create a new experience for readers (and writers). Some consider The New Weird to be the only –true- blending of the best of science fiction and fantasy. This course will explore the genre in detail and writers will be asked to produce short fiction every week based on prompts and craft discussions. We will read work from Borges, Gibson, Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, and Angela Carter among others. In this course, nothing is too strange; nothing is too wild and experimental for the page!

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories Paperback– May 8, 2012
Jeff VanderMeer & Ann VanderMeer (Editors)
Tor Books

Young Adult Literature

IMF543 Genre Fiction as Literature: Young Adult Literature

Instructor: Beth Mead (

Class Type: Literature

Read full First Assignment post HERE for start date and other important information.

Instructor's class description:
This literature course focuses on the study and analysis of young adult fiction. We will read three young adult novels by authors who also write contemporary literary fiction (Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings; Pure by the multi-genre author Julianna Baggot; and Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is a book categorized as both young adult literature and contemporary literary fiction, and which has won the Whitbread Award, the Guardian Prize, and a Commonwealth Writers Prize). We will also read three additional young adult novels, chosen by student votes with instructor approval. As we study these novels, we will clarify the category and techniques of young adult literature, and we will discuss these representative novels from a literary analysis perspective, from a writer's perspective, through critical thinking, and through reader response. While there is no full workshop session in this literature class, students will do two short writing exercises with feedback from the instructor and the class.

Textbooks (6):
Meg Wolitzer
Dutton Juvenile

Julianna Baggot
Grand Central Publishing

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Mark Haddon

4th, 5th, and 6th Texts: Students will submit votes during the first week of class for the books that will be assigned for the class. Each student will be required to purchase and read these three books (in addition to the three required texts above, for six class textbooks total). Before class begins, feel free to start creating a list of your favorite young adult books to submit for consideration. For ideas, review NPR's list of Best Young Adult Novels HERE.

Fundamentals of Contemporary Fiction

IMF536 Fundamentals of Contemporary Fiction

Instructor: Wm. Anthony Connolly (

Class Type: Craft (includes writing exercises but not a full workshop session)

Read full First Assignment post HERE for start date and other important information.

Instructor's class description:
It is hard to describe. I have an idea of the beginning. I write the first line and continue to the last. I correct a great deal, work hard and write several drafts, but I never question the finished work. – Alain Robbe-Grillet

Producing fiction, let alone defining its process, can be difficult. There are so many paths to the top of that mountain. But what is less shrouded in mystery is the equipment a writer needs – Stephen King famously calls them tools for the toolbox.

This course provides the tools that all writers need to get the words on the page. Acquiring these tools means exploring the expansive boundaries and the foundational principles of current long and short prose fiction in order to prepare writers for today’s art form.

Fundamentals include
  • How to establish a strong and regular writing practice
  • Exploring the principles of fiction
  • Mastering the power of details
  • Developing rich characters
  • Discovering the tricks of plotting
  • Creating effective dialogue
  • Structuring prose for maximum effect
  • Establishing and using point of view
  • Serving to launch the writer out into the larger community of fellow writers and readers
And throughout all of this exploring, developing, and establishing – writing of course; and remember, “you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great,” wrote Joe Saba.

So let’s start.

The Truth About Fiction
Stephen Schoen

The Long Poem

IMF529 Adv Studies Craft of Poetry: The Long Poem

Instructor: Scott Berzon (

Class Type: Craft/Workshop

Read full First Assignment post HERE for start date and other important information.

Instructor's class description:
This class will focus on creating a single long poem over the course of the quarter. Week by week you will submit new sections of the developing poem and your peers will respond to these sections (both as entities unto themselves but also how they relate to the larger whole).

While we won't have an assigned textbook, I will be asking you to read several long poems which will be available online. These poems will be a combination of both classic poetry and more contemporary pieces.

No textbook is required.

Prose Poetry

FULL as of 2/11/15

IMF529 Adv Poetry Workshop: Prose Poetry

Instructor: Eve Jones (

Class Type: Workshop/Literature

Read full First Assignment post HERE for start date and other important information.

Instructor's class description:
A prose poem intends to be a poem in its attention to language, but does not employ the use of line like regular poetry. It resembles prose, and in fact, it is cousin to short prose such as flash fiction and the lyric essay. Prose poems may be narrative-based or not. They may have complete, grammatically sound sentences or odd fragments. They may be glimpses of something or the whole shebang. They may brim with metaphor or not.They may be one-sentence or two pages long. They balance the said and the unsaid. They have the same goal as any poem: to wallop the reader with some emotional impact. We will spend the term reading, writing, and discussing a variety of prose poems.

Great American Prose Poems
David Lehman
Simon & Schuster

Sylvia Plath & the Tarot

IMF527 Selected Emphases in Poetry: Sylvia Plath & the Tarot

Instructor: Julia Gordon-Bramer (

Class Type: Literature/Craft

Read full First Assignment post HERE for start date and other important information.

Instructor's class description:
This course is intended for students who seek to understand the meanings and structure of Sylvia Plath's Ariel poems; to understand, identify and interpret symbolism; and to gain an introductory knowledge of the basic tenets of tarot and mysticism in written creative expression. Students will have weekly written responses, class discussion, presentations and individual creative work inspired by Plath's mystic models.

Fixed Stars Govern a Life: Decoding Sylvia Plath, volume one
Julia Gordon-Bramer
Stephen F. Austin State University Press

*The text can be ordered through Texas A&M U Press:,7831.aspx  

Focused Fiction Workshop: George Saunders

IMF522 Focused Fiction Workshop: The Stories of George Saunders

Instructor: Zachary Vickers (

Class Type: Workshop/Literature

Read full First Assignment post HERE for start date and other important information.

Instructor's class description:
In this workshop/seminar, we will study the surrealist logic of the work of George Saunders. We will read from two of his story collections--his first, Civilwarland in Bad Decline, and his most recent, Tenth of December, in order to see a progression in his aesthetic over the years. In discussions, we will look at how surrealism can be viewed as "realism" in today's society, and how the form/technique can honestly reveal elements of the human condition. In workshops, we will write our own surreal short stories to bring us closer to the heart--whether that be a question of morality, politics, or some other statement invested through character. Students will also be expected to critique each other's work and revise one story for a final project.

Textbooks (2):
Civilwarland in Bad Decline
George Saunders

Tenth of December
George Saunders
Random House

Thursday, January 29, 2015

SP15 First Assignment for All Online Classes

NOTE: The first assignment has changed from previous quarters. Be sure to read the instructions below carefully to prepare for your first week of class.


First date that students may access classes on Blackboard: Sunday, April 12

Do NOT post in Blackboard on Sunday, April 12, but the class will be available to students to view on this day. You may look over assignments and class content to ensure that you wish to remain in the class. If you decide to drop the class, do NOT post in Blackboard at all, as that counts as attendance per university policy, and you would be charged a portion of tuition for dropping after attending/posting. To drop a class, email the program director at

First assignment post (to confirm attendance) due date: Monday, April 13, by 11:59pm CST

This assignment simply requires you to post your name in the First Assignment discussion forum as verification to the instructor that you wish to remain in the class and be counted as attended for week 1. Instructors will enter first week attendance according to posts made by 11:59pm CST on Monday, April 13. If you post in the First Assignment forum by then, you will be marked as Present. If you do not post by then, you will be marked as Absent. Attendance must be entered early in week 1 due to university policy and because first day attendance impacts the refund process for financial aid and student loans.

Class Requirements and other assignments due during Week 1 (Mon. April 13 - Sun. April 19: See Week 1 folder in Blackboard

Each instructor will have his or her own additional assignments due during Week 1. Along with posting your name in the First Assignment discussion forum to confirm that you wish to remain in the class, you must click on Class Requirements in the left menu column and thoroughly read all information contained there. Then you will click on the Week 1 folder to read instructions for the remaining coursework and due dates during Week 1. If you have any problems navigating through the class on Blackboard, contact your instructor or the program director ( Your instructor's email address is posted on the class info page for your class (see links at the bottom of this post).

Weekly Coursework and Participation Requirements

Each week during the quarter, you will click on WEEKLY ASSIGNMENTS and then on the appropriate week’s folder to view the assignments and due dates for that week. You are required to participate on Blackboard a minimum of three times per week for each class you are enrolled in. See Blackboard for detailed information on the attendance/participation policy and grading criteria. 

Note on texts: MFA textbooks are usually available at bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, as well as through online sites such as (used copies are often available). E-books are acceptable. A limited number of textbooks are also available at full price through the LU Spirit Shoppe (via Lindenwood's website).

Instructions for Logging in to Blackboard for Online Classes:
  • Go to
  • Hover your mouse over Blackboard in the white bar at the top of the screen
  • Click on Access Blackboard
  • Log in with the same user ID and password you use for your Lionmail account. If you have not activated your Lionmail account, go to, hover over Email at the top of the screen, and click on Find Your Username; follow the instructions to get your user ID and password. If you have any problems, email the director at or the Help Desk at
  • Once you are logged in, click on your course name to enter the class site
  • To access Blackboard resources, click on the online support links at the bottom of the Log In page, or click on the Help menu button in your class shell

Click on the links below for specific information about each online class:

Fundamentals of Contemporary Fiction / Wm. Anthony Connolly (craft)

Focused Fiction Workshop: George Saunders / Zachary Vickers (workshop/literature)

The Prose Collection: Raymond Carver / Mary Anderson (literature/craft)

Genre Fiction Workshop: Focused Sci-Fi Workshop / Kelli Allen (workshop/craft)
NOTE: This class will fill quickly, and only one section is available, so email the director as soon as possible if you hope to reserve a spot in this class. Once all class spots are filled, the director will add names to a wait list. A sci-fi class may be offered again in summer or fall.

Genre Fiction as Literature: Young Adult Literature / Beth Mead (literature)

Narrative Journalism / Tony D'Souza (workshop/craft)

The Personal Essay (workshop/craft) / Andrew Pryor (section OL1) / David Hollingsworth (OL2)

The Long Poem / Scott Berzon (workshop/craft)

Prose Poetry / Eve Jones (workshop/craft)

Selected Emphases in Poetry: Sylvia Plath & the Tarot / Julia Gordon-Bramer (literature/craft)

Special Topics: Manuscript Preparation and Publication / Catherine Rankovic (craft/workshop)
    Section OL1: Publishing Your Novel
    Section OL2: Publishing Your Collection of Stories, Essays, or Poems