This course focuses on the art and craft of composing fiction, including narrative design from the traditional to the experimental, and exploring the elements of craft, including point of view, voice, dramatic tension and resolution, character construction, and dialogue. Students will also discover how both student and professional writers catch and sustain their reader's attention. As models for creative writing, students will also read a small number of works by a highly diverse range of contemporary authors representing a broad range of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. However, the primary emphasis of this writer's workshop will be on shaping students' original short stories. The sessions will be highly interactive and include writing exercises, peer editing, and regular small-group work. Students will also explore the possibility of publishing their stories in literary journals and magazines.
Workshop members write scripts for films (including shorts), plays, or TV, creating characters, conflict, dialogue, and stories that engage an audience. As models for writing, we discuss a small number of plays and films by dramatists such as David Lynch, Adrienne Kennedy, the Coen brothers, Yasmina Reza, Charlie Kaufman, Sofia Coppola, Quentin Tarantino, Caryl Churchill, Diablo Cody, and Christopher Nolan. However, this course's focus is on workshopping students' original scripts. Completed dramas will be submitted for publication in Berklee’s FUSION Magazine: Global Art, Words, and Music.
In this course, students write creative nonfiction, including personal narratives, memoirs, journalism, travel writing, personal essays, and more. Through their writing, students explore their place in the world, develop and improvise personal narratives, and explore voice and identity. Students read and discuss texts written by others while writing personal responses to topics concerning music and other forms of art. The class also explores ways that creative nonfiction may reveal the truth better than objective reporting can, and the ways that memory works on our experiences. Classes revolve around writing, exploring outside texts, careful reading of peers' work, and constructive feedback.
This poetry class is a hands-on workshop that spans a wide range of poetic types, from the most open ended, experimental, contemporary mode—the prose poem—to one of the most compact, formal, and traditional—the haiku. Students will encounter the haiku, a complex tradition that stimulates intense awareness and attention to the perceptual moment. Haiku practice, in this class, is fully contextualized within Japanese spiritual traditions of Taoism, Shinto, and Zen Buddhism. The class includes a treatment of five types of Japanese poetry that unfold from haiku: tanka, renku, senryu, haibun, and haiga. As we explore these forms, Japanese aesthetics are investigated both through reading, class exercises, and visits to the M.F.A's Japanese section. We will explore the way these traditions have entered and influenced English-language poetry from uniquely American versions of haiku in Richard Wright, Nicholas Virgilio, and beat poets like Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouak, to New York School poets such as John Ashbery, and moderns and postmoderns like Henryette Mullens, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Fred Wah, and Forrest Gander.
This course will teach students the fundamentals of journalism and how to apply these fundamentals specifically to reviews and critical analyses of music. Students will write reviews of recordings and live concerts aimed at both professional musicians and the general public; interviews and news pieces related to the music industry, trends, gear, and instrument innovation; and publicity pieces and press releases. Students will also learn blogging techniques, as well as the differences between writing for the web and writing for print.
This course leads students on their own paths towards the discipline of writing for children, a unique kind of creative writing that involves an awareness of diverse audiences, rigorous aesthetics, and pedagogy, along with more common authorial considerations such as character development, dialogue, plot, and setting. Students will explore the most popular genres of children’s literature—fantasy novel, short story, poetry, and picture book, including classics from Lewis Carroll, Langston Hughes, and Tove Jansson, in addition to more modern writers, such as Edward Gorey, Walter Dean Myers, Carole Boston Weatherford, and Neil Gaiman. Music designed to accompany these literary works will also be studied. The class includes creative workshopping from writing exercises by Marty McConnell, Patricia Smith, and Jericho Brown, and theoretical readings from Maurice Sendak and Nancy Willard, among others. Students will choose which genres to pursue and present a larger work at the end of the semester, which may include music composition. No experience necessary.
Podcasts combine the craft of narrative and knowledge of semiotics—gained in liberal arts studies—with the emotional power of music, precision editing, and innovative sound design, gained in production and music technology offerings. Podcast Writing and Production is offered cross-departmentally through the Liberal Arts, Music Production and Engineering, and Electronic Production and Design departments. This course focuses on three main areas of study. First, students explore the content and styles of contemporary podcast forms—from the most popular of interview, journalistic, and narrative shows produced by the largest media companies and public radio stations, to the niche and experimental podcasts produced independently. The students learn the various genres, styles, structures, and subject matter of today’s podcasting world. Second, students develop ideas for their own sample podcast episodes, switching from academic engagement with the material to the development of creative projects. Through this aspect of the course, students collaborate to generate ideas, develop pitches, learn project management, script episodes, coordinate interviews, and more, to take their show from concept to reality. Third, students learn the tools of podcast audio production—from microphone workshops and Digital Audio Workstation intensives, to editing, mixing, and sound design assignments to make a polished, final podcast show. In this facet of the course, students learn to use audio hardware and software, and develop the necessary critical ear to be podcast producers and sound designers.
This course is designed to provide critical and creative approaches to one of the most neglected, yet rich, areas of African American studies: children's literature and culture. Students will explore the artistic, cultural, political, and social significance of past and present African American children's literature, beginning with folktales from Africa and African Americans, moving through the Harlem Renaissance and Civil Rights Era, and ending with present day material. This class will also focus on some of the contemporary issues, including the importance of physical appearance—and particularly hair—in the black community, the portrayal of slavery, and of course, the expression and exploration of black musical heritage. As a capstone, the final project will be a research paper so that students can make their own discoveries about this emerging field of study.
This course explores the diversity of children's literature both inside and outside our country, illustrating common social themes as well as multicultural perspectives. Content covers Western and non-Western folktales and fairy tales, along with vibrant representations of multicultural and non-Western children's literature, including texts from African American (Carolivia Herron and Christopher Paul Curtis), Indian (Ruskin Bond and Anushka Ravishankar), Jewish (I.B. Singer and David Wisniewski), and Finnish writers (Tove Jansson). The class, through discussion and reading of primary texts and secondary critical sources, will learn to approach children's literature with particular attention to historical, multicultural, and social contexts. Other topics examined include the definition of children's literature, some of the many possible theoretical approaches to it, and the significant role it plays in our lives and our cultures.
In a workshop setting, students will read, explore, and act scenes from plays. They will present a minimum of three fully prepared, rehearsed scenes—one from each genre of plays—classical, contemporary, and musical theater plays. Students will learn to analyze and develop an understanding of the playwrights’ craft as it applies to character objectives and actions.
In the Advanced Theater Scriptwriting Workshop, students will research, draft and write a theater script with music. During the fall semester, students will have the opportunity to hear the script read by student actors and then put the script through the necessary revisions. The revised script could be produced in the Advanced Theater Production Workshop. Students will have the experience of writing a finished script, presenting it, then readying it for further development. The course will emphasize teamwork within the class as well as educate students to become collaborators within the interdisciplinary team of theater production.
Written approval of course instructor (Recommended: LENG-223, LENG-321, SW-335 and/or SW-445)