Course Description

What is this course about?

This paper is an exploration of the poetics – and politics – of experimentation and subversion in contemporary fiction and metafiction. As well as analysing the work (both creative and critical) of major practitioners and theorists, you will be expected to compose your own stories to demonstrate your understanding of the field.

The course is framed around the classic Eastern story-collection The Thousand and One Nights. By examining the variations on story-telling contained within it, as well as the responses it has elicited from contemporary critics and fiction-writers, you will be encouraged to see the continuities within narrative conventions, ancient and modern. The focus throughout will be on adding to your battery of theoretical and practical skills as a practising writer, so you will be asked to compile a portfolio of creative work, as well as writing a short critical essay.

What are our learning objectives?

Students who successfully complete this paper should be able to:
  1. Compose fiction which draws on the theories and techniques of major contemporary writers of fiction and metafiction.
  2. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the larger role of subversion and experimentation in modern literary fiction.
  3. Reflect constructively on the social, political and philosophical implications of such models of fictional praxis both in Aotearoa/New Zealand and internationally.
  4. Respond acutely and critically to published texts and to the work of their peers.

What am I expected to do each week?
If you are an internal student, you will attend one two-hour workshop every week. You are also expected - like the distance students - to familiarise yourself with each week's lecture materials, available on the relevant page of the course stream site.

All students, internal and distance, should read the texts in either the Course Textbook or the Course Book of Readings prescribed for that particular session (for further details, see the Course Timetable).

In the workshop there will be further discussion of these readings. You will also be expected to bring along any writing homework set for that session.

Attendance at workshops is compulsory. A roll will be taken at each session. More than four unexplained absences may be taken as grounds for failure in the course.

There will be a lot of demands made on your organizational abilities in this course. Think ahead, and always come prepared.

What is good classroom etiquette?
  • All sessions begin at on the hour and continue till ten to the hour.
  • Please be punctual. If you arrive late, try to take a seat as quietly and unobtrusively as possible.
  • If you know you will have to leave early (for whatever reason), try to inform your lecturer of this in advance. Avoid disruption to other students by sitting at the end of a row. Try to close the door quietly as you go out.
  • If you are expecting an urgent phonecall and need to keep your cellphone on, you must clear this with your lecturer in advance. Otherwise, all cellphones should be turned off at all times. If you forget, and it rings by mistake, don't answer it.
  • Don't talk unless there's a class discussion underway. Make sure your remarks are addressed to the group as a whole, not your immediate neighbour.

What are the protocols of a writing workshop?
  1. Be courteous and supportive of each other – constructively critical, not negative.
  2. Be honest. Don’t give out praise or blame if you don’t really mean it.
  3. Make no introductions to or apologies for the piece of work you are reading out. Let it speak for itself.
  4. Don’t refuse to read your work out too often, or it will become an increasingly frightening prospect.

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