TIPS & SAMPLE COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
When submitting a course description, please consider it your job application. It should be clear, concise, and free of typos. If you're including writers you'll be reading, their names should be spelled correctly. When a student reads your class description, they should think, "I like the way this person writes! I bet I could learn something from them!" Not: "I'm not sure how this person got a job as a writing teacher!" Our team may edit your course description for clarity and/or length, but we strongly prefer when course descriptions come in the door having been thoroughly thought through and proofread.
Here are some tips for a great course description: The description should tell us what the class is about, why the topic is worth investigating, what's going to happen (generative writing? workshopping? discussion?), and what students can expect to come away with (a new story? three new poems? a better understanding of metaphysics?). Here are a couple of great examples:
Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning Each week we will discuss an essay from Cathy Park Hong’s provocative new book of essays, Minor Feelings, and freewrite about our own personal experiences as Asian Americans, interrogating themes such as: coming of age, the model minority myth, class, the white gaze, microaggressions, shame, family, language, and community. Let’s get personal and political as we examine what connects us or holds us apart in a candid and safe space for exploration.
Intro to the Short Story “Where does one begin?” asks Amy Hempel in an essay on short stories. Her answer: “With obsession and nerve and ground worth reporting on.” This two-day introduction lays down a few simple but fundamental craft concepts related to writing short stories. Students will generate and share new work in class while we look at the bold and felicitous work of pros like Hempel, Denis Johnson, Amy Tan, Jamaica Kincaid, Donald Barthelme, and Sandra Cisneros. Students should be willing to risk vulnerability and intimacy. They can expect to come away with two beginnings to new short stories.
Finally, we're often asked about what gaps need to be filled in our catalog. We can't know this until class proposals come in each quarter, but one good way to answer this question for yourself is to look at the current quarter's catalog. What gaps do you see? What unique knowledge or viewpoint can you offer? What have you been reading that's really wound you up? What's happening in the world or around town that you'd like to interrogate? We love fresh, weird ideas and classes that aren't the same old, same old. World literature, translation, and multilingual courses are encouraged. Courses for beginning writers, or folks who don't even think of themselves as writers are encouraged. Courses in partnership with or inspired by other groups or organizations in town are encouraged (such as a writing or reading class based on an exhibition at the Wing Luke or NW African American museum, a writing class in conjunction with the launch of a book like Recipes for Refuge, or the like); we're happy to help arrange a collaboration if applicable.