The Scriptorium: Multiverses, Utopias, and Dreamscapes, Oh My! (WRI2163.01)

Alex Creighton

The Scriptorium, a “place for writing,” is a class for writers interested in improving their critical essay-writing skills. We will read to write and write to read. Much of our time will be occupied with writing and revising—essai means “trial” or “attempt”—as we work to create new habits and productive strategies for analytical writing. As we write in various essay structures with the aim of developing a persuasive, well-supported thesis statement, we will also revise collaboratively, improve our research and citation skills, and study grammar and style. We will strive for clarity, concision, and expressiveness as we read and respond to a variety of historical and contemporary texts.

This Scriptorium is about world-building: multiverses, utopias, dystopias, alternative realities, dreamscapes. Why have so many creators—not just in our time but across the centuries—been drawn to the idea of world-building? What do fictional worlds say about our own? Conversely, what do they offer that cannot be found anywhere else? We will voyage across worlds portrayed in novels, short stories, films, and video games. Our readings and media may include primary works by Ursula Le Guin, N.K. Jemisin, Octavia Butler, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jonathan Swift, Jason Roberts, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Samuel Johnson, Alice Munro; and critical texts by Jenny Odell, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Benedict Anderson, Lauren Berlant, and Dora Zhang.

Learning Outcomes:
Broadly speaking, this class will teach you how to engage with the discipline and practice of critical essay-writing. This breaks down into more specific learning outcomes, which are as follows:
 The Power of World-Building. You will read and analyze a range of texts connected to the theme of world-building, thinking about how those worlds do and distinctly do not reflect realities of our own.
 Writing and Revision. You will practice the skills that come with writing insightful essays, including analyzing texts, weaving analysis into an argument, writing thesis statements and topic sentences, and finding a compelling structure for your ideas. You will also practice grammar and revision skills that help you express those ideas with clarity and precision.
 Working with Critical Sources. You will learn to research online and in Crossett Library, read and annotate critical sources, and put sources in conversation with your own ideas and with other criticism.
 Collaboration. You will learn to be astute readers of and respondents to one another’s writing. You will participate in helping create a supportive and inclusive writing community where we all learn from each other.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 1:40PM - 3:30PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: 2000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Writing
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