Wesleyan will present the first-ever creative writing specialization on the Coursera platform, beginning Feb. 9. Taught by four award-winning authors, the specialization is open to anyone with a love of reading or a drive to invent a story or tell their own.
Titled “Creative Writing: The Craft of Story,” the specialization will include four courses, plus a capstone. The courses are:
- The Craft of Plot, taught by Brando Skyhorse, visiting assistant professor of creative writing in English
- The Craft of Setting and Description, taught by Amity Gaige
- The Craft of Character, taught by Amy Bloom, distinguished university writer-in-residence, director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing
- The Craft of Style, taught by Salvatore Scibona, the Frank B. Weeks Visiting Assistant Professor of English
- (Capstone) Crafting Your Story, taught by Scibona.
The first MOOC launches Feb. 9, with subsequent courses starting every week after that.
Learners may view lectures in each MOOC, with the exception of the capstone, for free, or they may pay to access assignments and peer review aspects of the courses. Passing all assignments unlocks the capstone course, which grants learners a certificate of completion.
“We’re very excited to present this first-of-its-kind specialization on creative writing,” said Jennifer Curran, director of Continuing Studies and the Graduate Liberal Studies Program. “So many people have a story to tell—whether fictional or taken from life—and this specialization will empower them to do so in a way that will absorb a reader’s attention from the beginning and hold it through the end. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn from some of the country’s best contemporary writers, and share work with fellow learners from around the world.”
Writing completed by learners as part of the course will be evaluated and given feedback through an online peer review system. Instructors will provide a clear rubric for students to assess each other’s success in achieving the goals of an assignment.
Three of the top-performing students in the specialization will receive a prize: free tuition, room and board to the Wesleyan Writer’s Conference, which is celebrating its 60th year in June. Upon completion of their first assignment, all learners will receive an 80 percent discount on a suite of writing software courtesy of Write Brothers.
More information about the instructors:
Salvatore Scibona, who will act as the Director of Wesleyan’s Creative Writing Specialization, is the Frank B. Weeks Visiting Professor of Creative Writing. A Guggenheim Fellow and a National Book Award finalist for his novel The End, published in 2008, Scibona has also been named as one of The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40: Fiction Writers to Watch” in 2010. Before coming to Wesleyan, he administered the writing fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, and helped to found the online writing workshop program there.
Amy Bloom is the Distinguished University Writer-in-Residence at Wesleyan and director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing. Previously, she was senior lecturer of Creative Writing in the English Department at Yale University. Bloom has been nominated for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Bloom has also written articles in periodicals including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, Slate, and Salon.com. Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories and several other anthologies, and has won a National Magazine Award. Her sixth book, Lucky Us, appeared from Random House in 2014.
Brando Skyhorse is a visiting assistant professor of creative writing at Wesleyan. His debut novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park, received the 2011 PEN/Hemingway Award and the Sue Kaufman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has been awarded fellowships at Ucross; Can Serrat, Spain; and was the 2014-2015 Jenny McKean Moore Writer-In-Washington at George Washington University. His latest book, Take This Man: A Memoir, is out now in paperback.
Amity Gaige is a visiting scholar in creative writing at Wesleyan. She is the author of three novels: O My Darling, The Folded World, and Schroder, which was shortlisted for The Folio Prize in 2014 and named one of the best books of 2013 by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post and many others. Gaige is also the winner of a Fulbright Fellowship, fellowships at the MacDowell and Yaddo colonies, and a Baltic Writing Residency. Her short stories, essays and reviews have appeared in publications such as The Guardian, The New York Times, the Literary Review and others.
Wesleyan also recently launched another new MOOC on Coursera: Memory and Movies: What Films Can Teach Us About Memory, taught by Professor of Psychology, Emeritus John Seamon.