Reading & Writing: Spectacular Failure (LIT4383.01)

Manuel Gonzales
I often suggest to students in a writer’s workshop that they should, when submitting work for class, aim for spectacular failure, figure out the breaking point of their own abilities and charge headlong past them, because there is no better place to test one’s limits than in a workshop full of peers working at the same goal. In this generative writing workshop, I’m putting my money where my mouth is. In this course, students will be asked to break things — generally their own things — as they try to test the limits of what they can do as writers, the limits of what a story or piece of prose can sustain, and as they leap at the chance to both stretch their abilities and throw themselves headlong into experiments ripe for spectacular failure. This class will feature mostly generative writing in-class as well as lengthy discussions of published work that hoped to push storytelling and prose to an extreme. The class will finish with one round of workshop in which students submit work built on the exercises, failures, experiments, and small successes they’ve had over the last quarter of the term. Readings will be pulled from Samanta Schweblin, Helen Oyeyemi, Donald Barthelme, George Saunders, Stuart Dybek, Deborah Eisenberg, Danielle Evans, and a host of other modern and contemporary writers who have, either through loud experimentation or a deep well of powerfully quiet writing (and everything in between), pushed the envelope of what prose can accomplish and demonstrated a compelling and lasting authorial voice.

Learning Outcomes:
*write creatively based on prompts intended to tip students towards spectacular failure
*read work that pushes students to recalibrate their own understanding of what a piece of fiction can accomplish

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Please submit a creative prose sample via this form, by May 11, 2023 to be considered for admission into this course.
Corequisites: Students are required to attend all Literature Evenings and Poetry at Bennington events this term, commonly held at 7pm on most Wednesday evenings.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
W 10:00AM - 11:50AM & W 2:10PM - 4:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: 4000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Literature
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