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ENGL 3301/3302: Creative Writing Workshop: Syllabus

An OER for Prof. Helen Phillips

Syllabus: ENGL 3301/3302: Creative Writing Workshop

Course Information

Class Name: Writing Fiction I & 2 (Spring 2022)

Class Code: ENGL 3301 (#20665)/ENGL 3302 (#21971) Section TR2          

Class Room: 3404 Boylan Hall 

Meeting Time: Tues./Thurs. 2:15-3:30     

Instructor: Prof. Helen Phillips (she/her)


Office hour: Thurs. 3:30-4:30

Office: 3108 Boylan Hall

Course Requirements

Course Requirements

  1. Five Writing Exercises. During the first part of the semester, you will complete five one-to-two-page writing exercises based on prompts. These exercises will facilitate experimentation and will arise from the assigned readings. The writing prompts will be given in class and posted on our Blackboard site.  

  1. Short Shares. Each of you will share one of your short writing exercises with the class. On your appointed short share date, please bring 21 hard copies of your piece to class.

  1. Readings. During the first part of the semester, there will be assigned readings of short fiction relevant to the weekly themes. Please read these works thoughtfully, as class discussion (both in person and on Blackboard) will center on them and your writing exercises will arise from them. We will also be “adopting” the literary magazine One Story, and One Story editor Lena Valencia will visit our class.

  1. Journal. Please keep a journal for in-class writing exercises. We will sometimes share these writings aloud. You will type up all of your journal entries and submit them as part of your final portfolio on Thurs., May 19.

  1. Four Online Journal Entries + Sixteen Online Responses. Each week, I will post a prompt on Blackboard to be completed and published on the class blog. Each week, one-third of the class will be assigned to post their response to the prompt, and the other two-thirds of the class will be assigned to write comments for at least two of those classmates who posted their responses to the prompt. The online journal entries are due by midnight every Monday, and the comments are due by midnight every Tuesday. Please note that your Blackboard posts count toward your attendance grade, as the fourth hour of this course takes place online. Instructions for how to create a Blackboard blog post can be found here

  1. Workshop Story. During the second part of the semester, you will hand in a story to be discussed in workshop.
  • It should be 5-10 pages.
  • It should be a new piece you’ve written specifically for this class.
    • Bring 21 hard copies of your story to class, typed in 12 pt. font, double-spaced, with pages numbered, and preferably printed double-sided to save paper.
    • Workshop Note: Please include, as the final page of your workshop submission, a note to us about your process, your intentions/vision for the piece, your imagined audience, and any challenges you face with it. This should include 1-5 questions you have about your piece that you would like to discuss.

  1. Workshop Responses: You will read and respond to all of your classmates' workshop submissions. Come to class prepared for an active discussion. Bring a thoughtful typed response (min. five sentences) to each workshop piece. There are two options for your response:
  • You may write a direct response, in which you:

(a) articulate your observations about the piece.

(b) ask the writer questions have about the piece.

  • You may write a creative response, in which you create a new piece of writing that is in some form a response to/inspired by the workshop piece. This should include a brief explanation of how the workshop piece inspired your response.
    • Print two copies of your workshop response: one for me and one for the writer. You will hand your response back to the writer along with the marked-up hard copy of the workshop piece.
    • IMPORTANT: Your workshop responses are an essential component of your grade. Through these responses, you express your respect for your classmates’ efforts. Be sure to hand in 100% of the workshop responses in a timely fashion.

  1. Individual Meetings. I will meet with each of you individually following your workshop, typically during my Thursday office hour. We will discuss your workshop and I will give you my in-depth feedback.

  1. Final Portfolio. On Thursday, May 19, you will hand in your final portfolio (by email to This consists of:

    • A Learner’s Letter: A 1-3-page letter in which in which you reflect on your journey over the course of the semester. What challenged you? What inspired you? What did you explore as a writer, as a reader, as a peer? What did you choose to do for your “Something New,” and why? What are your creative aims going forth?

    • Something New: A revision of something you’ve written earlier in the semester? An expansion of a journal entry or short writing exercise? A new story? A poem? A piece of creative nonfiction? A piece of visual art? A musical composition? You tell me.

    • Your Collected Works: You will gather your workshop piece, your five writing exercises, and all of your in-class journal exercises (please type).

    • Literary Magazine Submission: You will submit something you’ve written to a literary magazine of your choice and will fill out the “Submission Worksheet” (we will be discussing the submission process as a class). There is a 99% chance that your story will be rejected! This will enable you to begin your rejection letter collection, a prized possession of all writers.

Extra Credit

Option #1: Attend a Literary Event (in person or remote). In order to get credit, email me the event details and a paragraph in which you describe your experience.

Option #2: Review a Literary Magazine. Read at least three works in a literary magazine (many are listed here), and write a one-to-two-page description of what you read.

Required Reading

Required Reading

  1. Course readings: All readings for the course are available as PDFs on our course website:

  1. One Story: As soon as possible, please subscribe to the literary magazine One Story through CLMP’s Literary Magazine Adoption Program. Use the code 94363045780843359430 to order your bargain year-long subscription for $15.00. A One Story editor will visit our class, and we will discuss Winter/Spring 2022 issues of the magazine.  

  1. Recommended Reading: If you would like additional support for your mechanics/grammar, I recommend Rules for Writers by Diana Hacker. In terms of workshop, I recommend The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop: How to Decolonize the Creative Classroom by Felicia Rose Chavez and Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping by Matthew Salesses.

Course Policies


  • 50% of your grade will be based on your writing: your five writing exercises, you four online journal entries, your workshop story, your workshop note and 1-5 workshop questions, your workshop responses, your final portfolio, your mechanics, the promptness of your assignments.

  • 50% of your grade will be based on your participation: your contributions to discussion, your sharing of your writing, your sixteen online comments, your responses to the readings, your involvement in workshopping others’ stories, your meeting with me, your promptness, your attendance both in class and on Blackboard.

Attendance Policies

    • As per English Department policy, you will receive an automatic F if you miss six or more classes. Two tardy arrivals are equivalent to one absence. You are responsible for any material you miss. Please notify me about absences in advance.

    • Please note that your Blackboard posts count toward your attendance grade, as the fourth hour of the course is online.

    • Class discussion is a critical element of this course. I expect everyone to contribute each week.

    • Your full presence is essential, so no use of cell phones or other technology during class (unless we all agree we urgently need to look something up on Wikipedia). I will mark you absent if your phone is distracting you from class discussion.

University Policies

University Policies & Information

Plagiarism: The faculty and administration of Brooklyn College support an environment free from cheating and plagiarism. Each student is responsible for being aware of what constitutes cheating and plagiarism and for avoiding both. The complete text of the CUNY Academic Integrity Policy and the Brooklyn College procedure for policy implementation can be found at If a faculty member suspects a violation of academic integrity and, upon investigation, confirms that violation, or if the student admits the violation, the faculty member MUST report the violation. Students should be aware that faculty may use plagiarism detection software.

Accommodations for Disability: The Center for Student Disability Services (CSDS) is committed to ensuring students with disabilities enjoy an equal opportunity to participate at Brooklyn College. In order to receive disability-related academic accommodations, students must first be registered with CSDS. Students who have a documented disability or suspect they may have a disability are invited to schedule an interview by calling (718) 951-5538 or emailing If you have already registered with CSDS, email or to ensure accommodation emails are sent to your professor.

Consideration of Religious Observance: New York State Education Law requires that we “make available to each student who is absent from school, because of his or her religious beliefs, an equivalent opportunity to make up any examination, study or work requirements which s/he may have missed because of such absence on any particular day or days.”

Student Bereavement Policy: Students who experience the death of a loved one must contact the Division of Student Affairs, 2113 Boylan Hall, if they wish to implement either the Standard Bereavement Procedure or the Leave of Absence Bereavement Procedure. More information.

The Magner Career Center: The Magner Career Center, located in 1303 James Hall, has valuable resources, including resume and interview preparation, finding an internship, choosing a career, and more. Please review the 10 Tips to Plan Your Dream Career  ( to take charge of your career success.  

Student Support Services: Including Food Pantry & Counseling

Sexual and Gender-based Harassment, Discrimination, and Title IX: Brooklyn College is committed to fostering a safe, equitable and productive learning environment. Students experiencing any form of prohibited discrimination or harassment on or off campus can find information about the reporting process, their rights, specific details about confidentiality, and reporting obligations of Brooklyn College employees on the Office of Diversity and Equity Programs website. All reports of sexual misconduct or discrimination should be made to Ivana Bologna, Title IX Coordinator (718.951.5000, ext. 3689), and may also be made to Public Safety (719.951.5511), the New York City Police Department (911 or a local NYPD precinct), or Michelle Vargas, Assistant Director of Judicial Affairs, Division of Student Affairs (718.951.5352) as appropriate.


Course Schedule

Readings/assignments are due on the day they are listed.

Blackboard posts are due Mon. at midnight; Blackboard responses are due Tues. at midnight.

Tues. 2/1                    Introduction to course

Thurs. 2/3                   Assignment: Bring in a paragraph from a published piece of writing to which you have a strong reaction. Please type this paragraph & bring in 21 copies.


Tues. 2/8                  NO CLASS (Friday Conversion Day)

Thurs. 2/10                 “Robo-Baby” Matthea Harvey

“Twilight” J. Robert Lennon

“Fingers” Rachel Heng

“Thin City 5” Italo Calvino

“The Letter from Home” Jamaica Kincaid

Tues. 2/15                “The Swan as Metaphor for Love” Amelia Gray

“Mary When You Follow Her” Carmen Maria Machado

“Zoology” Natalie Diaz

“Jane Death Theory #13” Rion Amilcar Scott

“Rongorongo” Ed Park

Thurs. 2/17                 In-Class Writing Intensive

                                    “Your Brain on Fiction” Annie Murphy Paul


Tues. 2/22                 Flash Fiction Assignment (300 Words) + 4 Short Shares

Thurs. 2/24                 “Puppy” George Saunders  

“The Burglar” Sarah Shun-lien Bynum


Tues. 3/1                    Point-of-View Assignment + 4 Short Shares


Thurs. 3/3                   “Birds in the Mouth” Samanta Schweblin

“The Hunter” E.L. Doctorow


Tues. 3/8                    (Un)Familiar Assignment + 4 Short Shares


Thurs. 3/10                 “Interiors” Kathleen Collins

“The First Full Thought of Her Life” Deb Olin Unferth

Tues. 3/15                 Innovative Structure Assignment + 4 Short Shares  

Thurs. 3/17                 “Friday Black” Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

“Fairy Tale” Alexandra Kleeman


Tues. 3/22                 “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” Ursula K. Le Guin

“The Ones Who Stay and Fight” N.K. Jemisin

Intro to How Long Till Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin

Thurs. 3/24                 Zoom Event: Author & BC alum De’Shawn Charles Winslow

Prepare 3 questions for De’Shawn

                                    First chapter of In West Mills De’Shawn Charles Winslow

Tues. 3/29              “Parable” Assignment + 4 Short Shares

Thurs. 3/31                 Bring 3 questions for One Story editor Lena Valencia

One Story Reading Assignment


Tues. 4/5                    2 Workshops

Thurs. 4/7                   2 Workshops

Tues. 4/12                 2 Workshops

Thurs. 4/14                 2 Workshops 

Tues. 4/19                SPRING BREAK

Thurs. 4/21              SPRING BREAK

Tues. 4/26                 2 Workshops 

Thurs. 4/28                 2 Workshops


Tues. 5/3                    2 Workshops


Thurs. 5/5                   2 Workshops


Tues. 5/10                 2 Workshops

Thurs. 5/12                 2 Workshops

Tues. 5/17                 Course Wrap-Up & Celebration

                                    Writer’s Life Discussion (bring questions)

Thurs. 5/19              Final Portfolios

due via email to by midnight