Summer 2020 - ENGL 272 E100

Creative Reading (3)

Class Number: 5401

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We 4:30 PM – 7:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    ENGL 111W, 112W, 113W, 114W, or 115W; or WL 105W; or PUB 101.



An introduction to the art of reading for creative writers, focusing on the linguistic, literary, and conceptual tools writers use to manipulate language to create different experiences for those encountering it, and exposing new writers to innovative literature. Breadth-Humanities.


 Note: the course description and assignments have been re-written for its online delivery in May-June 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aspects of this course, including its online deliver and assignments, may change due to ongoing conditions. In this course, students gain an introduction to informed practice of creative writing by learning to read closely and actively ‘as writers.’ This is different from how we read as critics or, simply, as readers. As readers and critics, we read for plot – what happened, and why? Or for character. Perhaps we read to learn about other cultures or to see new ways in which our own stories can be told. And, yes, we read for language – for the glorious ways in which it can be used, abused, twisted and pulled. But when we read as writers, we want to see how it was done. We want to see what we can learn from other writers.  How, for instance, does a story, poem, or personal essay work?  What is the practical effect of evoking a particular perspective in writing, and what changes arise from calculated shifts in voice or consciousness?  What sorts of details have we come to expect in writing, and how, paradoxically, might seemingly unnecessary details be crucial?  What are some of the broader stylistic conventions regarding stories, poems, and plays, and why do authors deliberately pressure or abandon such conventions, including code-switching into lesser used languages, dialects, or slang?  How have writers understood the freedoms, constraints, and responsibilities of writing, and how have writers sustained and re-invigorated their practice? Some beginning writers are afraid of being influenced by others: I disagree. In this course, we will learn how, by reading others, we learn to write ourselves. Much of the course will involve the submission of regular reading assignments, which will serve as prompts for classroom discussions and exercises. I will talk about this more at our first class on May 11, but please know that I am aware of the challenges that online learning means for us and the challenges and distractions of the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, the class will be made up of asynchronous materials (30 minute lectures and interviews you can listen to/watch before the class begins) and synchronous sessions (75-90 minute classes on the Mondays and Wednesdays when the class is scheduled, from 5 pm PDT to 6:15/6:30). Four writer interviews are scheduled.  Students will also have the chance to practice their own creative writing by first "pitching" a project explicitly developing one or more concepts explored in the course.  The goals of this course are to become more attentive and passionate readers of literature, to engage the world of literature as an informed practitioner, to learn a practical vocabulary for the composition and editing of literary works, and to prepare for participation in advanced creative writing studio classes. We will also, always, think about what it means to write while living on the traditional ancestral territories of the Coast Salish peoples, including traditional territories of the Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw), Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ), Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm), and Kwikwetlem (kʷikʷəƛ̓əm) Nations.


"No hymn will be raised to honor marriage of mine" (Sophocles - Antigone): you will learn to write for its own sake, for neither prizes nor grades.

"Soo and I worked up some music to go with your lyrics" (Jones - 1978): you will learn how writing creates its own music.

"The garden where Marvell scorned love's solicitude" (Phyllis Webb - "Marvell's Garden"): you will learn how to read writing creatively and for its diversity.


  • Participation 15%
  • Reading response 1 (750 words) 10%
  • Reading response 2 (750 words) 10%
  • Reading response 3 (750 words) 10%
  • Reading response 4 (750 words) 10%
  • Pitch for a creative project (750 words) 10%
  • in-class test - 1 hour 15%
  • Creative project 20%


 Your participation grade reflects not only your attendance but also your degree of informed participation in classroom exercises and bi-weekly discussions of readings. Please be aware that you will fail this class if your participation is not satisfactory: too, given that this class is in intersession and twice a week, missing classes will affect your final grade, perhaps leading to a failing grade. Your reading responses will be approximately 750 words and due on Canvas at 9 a.m. on the day of class. We will oftentimes open classes by inviting students to share responses with the class. The 4 assignments are each worth 10% of your final grade, for a total of 40%.  Students will be assigned when to deliver each response. In your response, you will first discuss a pertinent concept or stylistic trait in the readin, relating it to material already covered in the course (whether lectures, other readings, or class discussion.  You will then, for no more than one page, explicitly model or adjust this trait in your own original piece of creative writing.  For instance, after discussing Vivian Gornick’s distinction between situation and story, you might briefly rewrite part of a piece to better shift the reader’s attention from what happened to how you are showing its relevance to your sense of self. The in class test will take place near the end of the course.  It will be an hour in length and cover all concepts and required readings. Your pitch for a creative project will be three pages in length and require that you explicitly draw upon and reference one or more concepts or formal features discussed in the class.  You will explain why you wish to address these concepts/formal features in your own writing, and what challenges you may encounter.  You will be invited to briefly share your pitch during a class. Your creative project will be 8 pages in length and execute your pitch in carefully written prose or poetry.   Please understand that because of the special time constraints of this seminar course there can be no extensions on assignments except in emergency circumstances. 



David Chariandy, Brother (ebook)
ISBN: 9780771021060

Ocean Vuong, Night Sky with Exit Wounds (ebook)
ISBN: 9781619321564

Lydia Davis, Essays: One (ebook)
ISBN: 978-0-374-71924-1

Department Undergraduate Notes:

IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.

For all On-Campus Courses, please note the following:
- To receive credit for the course, students must complete all requirements.
- Tutorials/Seminars WILL be held the first week of classes.
- When choosing your schedule, remember to check "Show lab/tutorial sections" to see all Lecture/Seminar/Tutorial times required.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.


Please note that all teaching at SFU in summer term 2020 will be conducted through remote methods. Enrollment in this course acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.