Researching as a Writer 1: Icebergs and Audience
This is one of two six-week creative writing research modules. The main focus is on research related to writerly craft. It takes as its focus Hemingway’s model of the iceberg that the reader only sees one-eighth of. Students will understand, through practice, what the other seven-eighths consists of in terms of the practical, historical, and speculative research necessary to bring a piece of creative writing to life for a reader. It will involve looking at how writers build worlds, characters and stories, how they research settings, time periods and ideas. We’ll consider the use of archives, mood boards, video resources, images, paintings, newspapers, other fictional texts, websites, wider reading and experiences to aid them in creation of believable worlds, characters and stories, imagery, voice, or supplementary knowledge in poetry/experimental work. It will also look at the way’s writers work to find creativity and ideas, and habits they use to enhance their practice.
Researching as a Writer 2: Practising Ideas, Articulating Practice
The second six-week research module tackles how students approach the challenge of writing creatively about their practice in ways that stretch the standard academic ‘analytical’ writing and yet encourage them to understand and articulate the research issues and questions that underpin specific projects, and their emerging sense of their wider writing practice (and its thematic concerns). It gives students the opportunity to situate their writing, and thinking, amongst contemporary issues and ideas. These concerns may range across considerations of creativity, play, knowledge, gender, identity, sexuality, class, and the relationship between aesthetics and politics. Students explore alternative traditions of articulating practice from the manifesto to the experimental essay and the rich heritage of ‘poetics’ as a speculative hybrid discourse, a mid-point between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’. The module builds upon the Benchmark Statement’s commitment to ‘Creative Writing as an academic pursuit [that] develops a range of cognitive abilities related to the aesthetic, ethical and social contexts of human experience.’ As such, it fosters ‘the ability to see the world from different perspectives, both as a life skill and as an essential part of artistic practice’ (QAA 6). The ability to conceptualise their practice in relation to research questions and contributions to knowledge is a crucial M level skill that will assist them in their professional development, for example in funding applications, and PhD work.
Developing Writing 1: Craft, Form and Exploratory Writing
This 12-week module aims to develop your writing practice and craft skills in relation to your chosen research project and its genre(s). It will also encourage experimentation with writing, both in terms of pushing your current practice in new directions, and in trying new forms and ideas. Half of the module will be devoted to issues of craft, form and genre; and half will be devoted to ‘exploratory’ writing as ways of developing both your general sense of craft, and the specific project you want to select as the main focus of this 12-week block. It is entirely up to you whether you continue with this project beyond these 12 weeks. The first 6 weeks explore genre, craft and form, using in-situ tasks and a focus upon Weird Fiction as a hybrid genre that takes elements of horror, sci-fi and other forms and yet has developed a singular identity in recent years. The next 6 weeks of ‘exploratory writing’ encourages you to tackle aspects of your chosen research project from productively ‘slanted’ angles. As such, we will adopt Fernando Pessoa’s practice of ‘heteronymity’ to self-multiply into different writing identities with discrete writerly concerns and styles. Each week we will frame the session by looking at one of the 6 ‘values, qualities, or peculiarities of literature’ that Italo Calvino regards as aspects of creative practice that ‘only literature can give us.’
Developing Writing 2: Genre Case Study
This 12-week module is divided into two halves that put into practice an understanding of the various functions and significance of genre, by enabling the students to experience 6 different genres and the craft challenges specific to them. The first six weeks are devoted to weekly specialist sessions wherein a practitioner, expert in a given genre, will lead a session on their experience of working within it, in terms of crafts techniques and market considerations for a professional context. It is understood that the genre the student ultimately selects, must be different from the project they are pursuing for the CREW 5012 module. Sessions may include genres and forms as various as TV Sitcom, Speculative Fiction, Working-Class fiction, Memoir writing, Crime fiction and the poetry sequence. After these 6 weeks, the students select the genre they want to explore; and each following weekly workshop will be led by several students responsible for bringing in an excerpt from their work in this form, an example of published work in this form, and craft challenges and tips for discussion.
The Writing Ecosystem 1: Navigating networks
This module will focus on markets for creative writing in terms of routes into publishing and the production of written work. It will also investigate ecosystems that provide work, professional development and support for writers. We will look at submitting work for publication, applying for grants, writing as a business and the publishing/production industries. We will also explore the avenue of producing your own work independently, both in terms of self-publishing and indie filmmaking via crowdfunding etc. The module will reinforce the importance of collaboration and explore the significance of the ‘Author’s Story.’
The Writing Ecosystem 2: Performance, Presentation, Pedagogy
This module is the second ‘Ecosystems’ module that faces outwards towards employability broadly conceived as equipping you with skills for a range of career contexts, as well as a sound understanding of Creative Writing as a discipline. In the current professional landscape, it’s imperative that writers are able to present themselves and their work, as being involved in events and elements of self-promotion are a necessity. Doing so is predicated upon developing an understanding of what Creative Writing ‘is,’ and the different purposes and audiences (or, ‘ecosystems’ it might serve). Addressing different aspects of Creative Writing pedagogy, and ‘creativity,’ will allow you to simultaneously develop new knowledge about how we learn, and be able to articulate the transferable skills that your subject embodies. We will focus upon the applicability of such knowledge: both how you might personally use it to present your work to an audience, and how you might develop teaching materials to use in future workshops of your own. The aim is to increase your ability to confidently present your work, and articulate your processes and practice for a variety of audiences; formal interviews, post-reading Q+A, running workshops or teaching creative writing as part of a portfolio career. How do you select and present materials to read in public? How would you run a workshop; what would you focus upon, and what teaching methods would you use? These are just some of the questions that will preoccupy us.
The final dissertation module is an extended creative project of your choice—for example a collection of poems or short stories, a novel extract, a creative non-fiction piece, or an experimental cross-platform/genre piece. The dissertation module will be supported by a critical or reflective commentary. Total word count is between 15-25,000 words, including a 2000-word reflective commentary, and a project synopsis. The project may well be exactly the work you have been planning since the early modules on the programme, or it may be something that has developed more recently, stimulated by other work encountered: the choice is yours. You will be divided into peer ‘response groups’ for further support.
Note: All modules are subject to change in order to keep content current.