Creative Writing

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Course Information
Discipline(s): 
French Language
Terms offered: 
Spring
Credits: 
3
Language of instruction: 
French
Prerequisites: 

Four semesters of college-level French, or the equivalent

Additional student cost: 
Contact Hours: 
45
Description: 

The creative writing workshop is a place for sharing the pleasure of writing, of reading, and of discovering texts. It is essentially a practical class open to everyone, and not a theoretical class or a course aiming at specialization. It is intended for students who wish to improve their stylistic skills in French while developing their potential for creativity. They will discover that they can express themselves on every subject, while inventing simple and imaginative narratives.

Attendance policy: 

Attendance is mandatory. Please note that being absent or late will prevent you from mastering the material for this class and will result in a lower final grade. If you are sick and need to miss class, please notify your professor and the Academic Advisor by email.

Learning outcomes: 

Students who are placed in this level should be capable of achieving the outcomes in the Emerging Competent Abroad level as defined by the IES Abroad MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication.

By the end of the course, students will be able to achieve the outcomes for the Competent Abroad level as defined by the MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication. The key learning outcomes from the MAP are summarized below:

  1. Intercultural Communication
    1. Students will be able to express their own ideas, perspectives, and arguments thoroughly and yet tactfully, using language proficiency, sociolinguistic skills, and cultural knowledge.
    2. Students will be able to perform any activity (social, academic, professional) a local student of their age, skills, and background would do with a reasonable degree of success.
  2. Listening
    1. Students will be able to recognize and appreciate the beauty and richness of language when they hear it.
    2. Students will be able to understand native speakers on a wide range of complex topics, including their digressions, side comments, and humor.
  3. Speaking
    1. Students will be able to talk about abstract ideas and concepts, engage in agreement or disagreement, and defend their opinions with supporting evidence.
    2. Students will be able to use the language for a wide range of creative and presentational purposes.
    3. Students will be able to use an extensive variety of colloquial expressions and humor effectively.
    4. Students will be capable of varying their language to make subtle and complex distinctions (e.g. formality and informality) with a wide array of native speakers.
  1. Reading
    1. Students will be able to read and understand a wide range of academic resources and popular texts (print or online).
    2. Students will be able to understand the main ideas and supporting details when reading many works of literature and nonfiction with some assistance at times.
    3. Students will be able to recognize and appreciate the beauty and the richness of the written word.
  1. Writing
    1. Students will be able to write academic texts that describe, relate, report, compare and contrast, analyze, and summarize with a high degree of precision and accuracy on a wide range of topics.
    2. Students will be able to distinguish between the written style and the spoken style, and will be able to use the written style effectively with some support.
Method of presentation: 

The strategy of this course insists on the playful aspects of writing. Varied texts will be read for inspiration and as a source of useful vocabulary. The exercises take inspiration from various source constraints (imposed words, photographs, imposed structure, message, copy and paste techniques…). On the basis of the proposed context (literary excerpts and vocabulary exploration), the students will produce short texts in class, with guidance from the professor. These texts will be read in class, and other texts devised on the same theme will be written at home and returned every week to the professor (progressive evaluation). There will be on writing assignment each week. The written exercises will also develop semantic skills (study of vocabulary adapted to the cultural issues developed in the texts) and grammatical skills (revision of one specific point every week, triggered by the structure of the texts, as a complement). Each student will be able to focus on his or her weak points. The professor will post texts, as well as information on specific grammar and vocabulary points on Moodle.

We will study a novel, Le géant et le gigot, by Christian Oster, winner of the 1999 Medicis Prize. The author will visit the class to discuss his work and explain one of his tales. A visit of a writer’s house in Paris is planned.

Field study: 
Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Participation - 10%
  • Creative writing assignments - 30%
  • 2 vocabulary and grammar tests - 20%
  • Final Exam – 40%

Creative Writing Assignments
Minimum of 9 creative writing assignments increasing in length over the course of the semester, minimum 200 words at the beginning of the semester, 400 words at the end of the semester – no maximum length).  The 7 highest grades will count.

Final Exam
Written expression using all techniques learnt in class (portrait, description, dialogue, etc.). Students will invent a story, giving life to characters and expressing personal opinions.

content: 
WEEK CONTENT DOCUMENTS OBJECTIVES
1
  1. LISTS (1 assignment in class, 1 assignment at home)

  2. Grammatical: articles, contracted articles, negative articles

  3. Vocabulary: everyday objects, preferred objects

  4. Culture: reading of a text in class by Georges Pérec, “Je me souviens”

Reading of Christian Oster’s novel and tale over the course of the semester

  • Le coeur du probléme
  • Le géant et le gigot

General principles of the class

Reading of a novel (written comprehension)

Grammar and vocabulary reinforcement

II. A, B

III. A

IV. C

V. B

2
  1. Functional: PORTRAITS (1 assignment in class, 1 assignment at home)

    Telling a story while describing a person, in a positive and negative way

  2. Grammatical: negative articles, colloquial “c’est/ il est”, negative form of “c’est/il est.”

  3. Vocabulary: Describing a person

  4. Culture: reading in class of a text from Raymond Queneau, Exercices de style

Novel reading at home:

  • Le cœur du problème, page 1-10
  • Le géant et le gigot, pages 1-10

Grammar and vocabulary reinforcement

Comment on a photograph

Inventing a story based on a photograph,

Expressing judgments

Reading of a novel over the semester

I. A

II. A, B

III. A, B

IV. A, B

V. A

3
  1. Functional: DESCRIPTION of a place (1 assignment in class, 1 assignment at home)

  2. Grammatical: prepositions, “depuis”, “pendant”

  3. Vocabulary: spaces, places. expressing one’s reactions with nuances

  4. Culture: reading in class for inspiration: “Paysages” by Maxence van der Meersch

Novel reading at home:

  • Le cœur du problème, page 10-20

  • 'Le géant et le gigot, pages 10-20

Working on a photograph.

Expressing the passage of time.

Inventing a story in a chosen setting

Choosing a “mood”,

Creating a new context

Grammar/ vocabulary TEST 1

Exercises on a text (Van der Meersch)

I. A

II. A, B

III. A, B, D

IV. B, C

V. B

4
  1. Functional: NARRATIONS (1 assignment in class, 1 assignment at home)

  2. Grammatical: imperfect, passé composé, personal pronouns (I)

  3. Vocabulary: “Parental heritage”,

  4. Culture: reading in class of a text by Frederic Beigbeder, “Héritage parental” and http://education.francetv.fr/videos/f-beigbeder-ecrire-se-souvenir-et-transmettre-v108454

Novel reading at home:

  • Le cœur du problème, page 20-30
  • Le géant et le gigot, pages 20-30

Presenting oneself through others, using constraint to free imagination

Document reading (written comprehension)

Grammar and vocabulary reinforcement

I. A

II. A, B

III. A, B, D

IV. B, C

V. B

5
  1. Functional: “PETTY CRIMES”, writing a short press article (1 assignment in class, 1 assignment at home)

  2. Grammatical: imperfect, passé composé, personal pronouns (II)

  3. Vocabulary: press article, media, synonyms to do…

  4. Culture: reading in class of French newspapers in search of “petty crime” stories

Novel reading at home:

  • Le cœur du problème, page 30-40

  • Le géant et le gigot, pages 30-40

Humoristic or distanciated presentation

Comparing time dimensions

French humour vs American humour

I. A,B

II. A, B

III. A, B, D

IV. A, B, C

V. A, B

6
  1. Functional: LETTERS (1 assignment in class, 1 assignment at home)

  2. Grammatical: subjunctive tenses, conditional tenses

  3. Vocabulary: letters for various occasions: birthdays, best wishes, sympathy, anniversaries…

  4. Culture: reading in class
    “Il faut que tu reviennes” by Ali Ghalem
    “Cioran, sur les  cimes du désespoir”

Novel reading at home:

  • Le cœur du problème, page 40-50

  • Le géant et le gigot, pages 40-50

Expression of personal wishes, will, regrets.

Document reading (written comprehension)

Grammar and vocabulary TEST 1

I. A,B

II. A, B

III. A, B, D

IV. A, B, C

V. A, B

7
  1. Functional: DIALOGUES (1 assignment in class, 1 assignment at home)

  2. Grammatical: possessive adjectives and pronouns, subject and verb inversion after dialogues

  3. Vocabulary: synonyms verb to say

  4. Culture: novel reading in class: Christian Oster, dialogue in La princesse enrhumée

 

Novel reading at home:

  • Le cœur du problème, page 50-70
  • Le géant et le gigot, pages 50-70

Preparation of the visit with a list of questions

Livening up characters

Grammar and vocabulary reinforcement

Exploring nuances

I. A, B

II. B

III. A, B, D

IV. A, B

8
  1. Functional: TALES (1 assignment in class, 1 assignment at home)

  2. Grammatical: cause, aim, consequences (I)

  3. Vocabulary: synonyms of the verb “to do”
    Le géant et le gigot by Christian Oster + Le roi de n’importe où

  4. Culture: visit of Christian Oster, discussion and activity around a tale

Novel reading at home:

  • Le cœur du problème, page 50-70

  • Le géant et le gigot, pages 50-70

Document reading (written comprehension)

Grammar and vocabulary reinforcement

What is a writer ? Who wrote the novel ? How

I. A, B

II.A, B

III. A, B, D

IV. A, B

9
  1. Functional: HAIKUS and poems (5-6 texts)

  2. Grammatical: cause, aim, consequences (II)

  3. Vocabulary: nominalization

  4. Culture: reading in class, Verlaine “Mon rêve familier” in Poèmes saturniens, lu par Gilles-Claude Thériault from www.litteratureaudio.com

Novel reading at home:

  • Le cœur du problème, page 80-90

Conjuring a sacred practice

Document reading (written comprehension)

Grammar and vocabulary reinforcement

I. A, B

II. A, B

III. B, D

IV. A, B, C

V. A, B

10
  1. Functional: RECIPES (1 assignment in class, 1 assignment at home)

  2. Grammatical: imperative and infinitive forms

  3. Vocabulary: good manners

  4. Culture: reading in class: Jean Cocteau, “Bonnes manières”

Novel reading at home:

  • Le cœur du problème, page 90-100

Document reading (written comprehension)

Grammar and vocabulary TEST 2

I. A, B

II. A, B

III. B, C, D

IV. C

V. B

11
  1. Functional: Oulipo LITERARY GAMES (1 assignment in class, 1 assignment at home)

  2. Grammatical: indefinite adjectives and pronouns

  3. Vocabulary: revision

  4. Culture: http://www.pascalkaeser.ch/jeuxlitt.pdf

Novel reading at home:

  • Le cœur du problème, page 100-110

General revision for the final exam

VISIT TO A WRITER’S HOUSE IN PARIS

I. A, B

II. A, B

III. B, C, D

IV. A, B, C

V. B

 

Required readings: 

At home reading:

  • Christian Oster, Le géant et le gigot, Editions l’Ecole des Loisirs, 2014.
  • Oster, Le Roi de N’importe Où, 2001.
  • Oster, L’Ecole des Loisirs, 2001.
  • Oster, Le Coeur du Problème, Editions de l’Olivier, September, 2015.

In class reading: The texts read in class (excerpts of books by Pérec, Queneau, Cocteau, Ali Ghalem, haikus, etc.) will be posted on Moodle:

  • Frédéric Beigbeder, “Héritage parental,” in Un roman français, prix Renaudot 2009, éditions Grasset, 2009
  • Cioran, Sur les cimes du désespoir, éditions le livre de Poche, 1991
  • Jean Cocteau, “Petite lettre à la derive”, in L’Almanach de cocagne, 1919
  • Ali Ghalem, Une femme pour mon fils, Editions Syros, 1988
  • Haikus, anthologie du poème court japonais, Poésie/Gallimard 2002
  • Charles Juliet, Dans la lumière des saisons, éditions POL 2005
  • Pascal Kaeser (Oulipo) “Rencontres du 3e groupe,” in Jeux littéraires 2006, téléchargeable sur Internet http://www.pascalkaeser.ch/jeuxlitt.pdf
  • Christian Oster, La princesse enrhumée, l’Ecole des Loisirs
  • Georges Pérec, Je me souviens, Editions Hachette.1978, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNhN77tyep8http://ateldec.chez.com/00002000/
  • Raymond Queneau, Exercices de Style, Editions Gallimard, 1947
  • Maxence Van der Meersch, La maison dans la dune, Albin-Michel 1932
  • Paul Verlaine, “Mon rêve familier,” in Poèmes saturniens, 1866, éditions Alphone Lemerre
Additional requirements: 
Other Resources: 
Notes: