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Creative and Life Writing

Module information>

Academic Direction
Goldsmiths, University of London
Also part of
BA English
Modes of Study

This course is designed as a progression of the concepts and practices introduced in Level 4 ‘Introduction to Creative and Life Writing.

The course will help you to further develop an awareness of various – more sophisticated – contexts into which you write; and different techniques that can be used to draft, edit and prepare your work for eventual submission.

The course examines creative writing in its literary contexts, using texts that serve to best represent the fields of short fiction, poetry and life writing, providing you with the opportunity to survey and understand the contemporary canon. This course not only ties your writing practice very closely to the act of reading, but also begins to consider the reader’s role in the craft.

Mode of assessment: Coursework submitted through the VLE.

Prerequisite: The course Introduction to Creative and Life Writing [EN1022-03] is a prerequisite for this course.

Learning outcomes

If you complete the course successfully, you should:

  • recognise the practical skills and techniques required when creating, drafting, editing and revising creative work.
  • understand the nuanced differences between three distinct kinds of writing (short fiction, poetry, and prose and verse life writing) and some of their literary contexts.
  • engage with literary texts studied on the programme as a reader and as a writer.
  • practise writing short fiction, poetry, and a piece of life writing to a standard that reflects attention to revision and editing.
  • independently develop an extended writing project in one of these three kinds of writing, incorporating feedback.
  • reflect critically and meaningfully on your own writing practice, charting and articulating your own progression from Level 4 to Level 5.
  • identify more fully the type of writing you wish to pursue in the future.

Essential reading

Among texts and authors which students may choose to study are:

Essential literary texts

  • *Connell, J. The Cow Book. (London: Granta, 2019) [ISBN 9781783784189] or The Farmer’s Son excerpt from Granta [Granta subscription required to access full excerpt.]
  • Davis, L. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis. London: Penguin, 2014) [ISBN 9780241969137]. [OL]
  • Khalvati, M. ‘Motherhood’ from The Meanest Flower. (Manchester: Carcanet, 2007) [ISBN 9781857548686]. [VLE]
  • Olds, S. The Father. (New York: Knopf, 1999) [ISBN 9780679740025]; (London: Jonathan Cape, 2009) [ISBN 9788022409025]; (London: Secker and Warburg, 1993) [ISBN 9780436339523]. [The Knopf edition is available in the OL. Other editions are indicated as alternatives.] [OL]
  • Sharma, A. A Life of Adventure and Delight. (New York: W.W. Norton, 2017) [ISBN 9780393285345]. [VLE]

Essential critical texts

  • Anderson, L. and D. Neale’s Writing Fiction. (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009) [ISBN 9780415461559]. [OL]
  • *Bell, J. and P. Magrs The Creative Writing Coursebook: Forty Authors Share Advice and Exercises for Fiction and Poetry. (London: Macmillan, 2001) [ISBN 9780333782255].
  • Cline, S. and C. Angier The Arvon Book of Life Writing: Writing Biography, Autobiography and Memoir. (London: Methuen Drama, 2010) [ISBN 9781408122716]. [OL]
  • *Karr, M. The Art of Memoir. (New York: Harper Perennial, 2016) [ISBN 978006222307].
  • *Strand, M. and E. Boland The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms. (New York: Norton, 2001) [ISBN 9780393321784].
  • Wainwright, J. Poetry: The Basics. (New York: Routledge, 2016) 3rd edition [ISBN 9781138823365]. [OL]
  • Wood, J. How Fiction Works. (London: Vintage, 2009) [ISBN 9781845950934]. [OL]