Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

Engl 318 The Writing of Fiction: Writing Rome

Fall 2012

Loyola University Chicago—John Felice Rome Center

Fall Semester 2012; Day & Time:  Tuesdays 930am-1230pm

Location:  Classroom TBA & On Site

Prof. Elizabeth Geoghegan; Email:  egeoghegan@luc.edu

Office Hours:  Room 102 - by appointment (Thursdays)


Course Description: 

This Writing Intensive Core Course will discuss techniques of fiction writing and will offer guidance in writing works of original short fiction. By exploring the city of Rome through reading, writing, and on-site classes, students will be provided with an interdisciplinary approach to the generation of written work.  Readings will examine the Eternal City as a character in literature and be used as a foundation for site visits and writing assignments.  Students will examine a variety of fictional pieces and learn how to evaluate prose in light of an aesthetic and historic precedent. Students will gain practice in generating and revising their own prose, as well as in delivering critiques of their own work and the work of their peers. Through the studied practice of descriptive writing and the examination of setting as a vital literary component, students will produce their own fictional interpretations the Eternal City.



Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the technical vocabulary and critical skills necessary for discussing, analyzing and formulating arguments about fiction, and will produce original short fiction pieces of their own.


Knowledge Area(s) satisfied:

Artistic Knowledge,

Skill(s) Developed:

Critical Thinking & Dispositions

Values Requirement(s) satisfied:




Learning Objectives: 

Knowledge Area (Artistic Knowledge):  In order to meet the objectives outlined above, the work of the course will be structured so as to meet the following specific learning outcomes:

A) Study, create, or participate in the creation or performance of some forms of artistic expression as a means of exploring human experience and understanding the creative process:

Upon successfully completing the course, students will have immersed themselves in the creative process and demonstrated their ability to generate descriptive prose via reading, discussion, writing (both on and off site), and participating in peer reviews.  

B) Demonstrate visual and aural literacy:

The workshop format will allow students to demonstrate visual and aural literacy.  Students will be required to present their ideas both orally and textually during class discussions as well as during readings and peer reviews of works in progress.  Students will be responsible for reading their work aloud and analyzing their own work, as well as the work of their peers.

C) Acquire the critical and technical vocabulary enabling them to describe and analyze, and formulate an argument about literary productions:

By devoting an entire semester to the writing process, students will gain confidence in their writing and garner writing skills that will aid them when writing for any field of study. These skills include a broadened knowledge of the language and vocabulary one uses when to analyze fiction and the ability to identify and work in a variety of writing styles and genres.

D) Access how formal qualities of artistic expression are intrinsically tied to an audience:

Students will gain experience writing their own creative work with a particular audience        in mind (in this case the class.)  They will also be responsible for identifying goals for a wider audience in discussions.  Students will also acquire the skills to identify the “intended audience”; by examining works within an historical context, as well as discussing their role as contemporary audience for those works.  They will also learn about the impact of authorial decisions (such as voice, tone, point of view, and so forth) and how those choices impact audience reception.




E) Recognize and participate in the artistic-cultural lives of their communities:

Students will be encouraged to attend readings or performances during the course of the semester, as well as to participate in a final reading from their own work at the end of the term.  The Rome setting does not offer many opportunities to attend performance in English, but I will provide information about cultural events, in particular literary events, that will take place over the course of the semester.

F) Acquire collaborative skills through group problem solving and negotiation:

Students will critique each other’s creative work in a workshop environment. Various classes will be devoted to workshops.  Students will be provided with copies of their colleague’s work and expected to respond both in writing and orally to the work or works in progress.  Student fiction will be discussed and evaluated in a supportive, yet critical, environment.  Suggestions for revision will be negotiated among workshop participants.


Skills (Critical Thinking):  In order to meet the objectives outlined above, the work of the course will be structured so as to meet the following specific learning outcomes:

1) Comprehend, paraphrase, summarize, and contextualize the meaning of varying forms of communication, including, but not limited to: written work (fiction and nonfiction), speech, film, visual art, multimedia, and music:

Students will have successfully demonstrated comprehension of and the ability to contextualize the meaning of varying forms of prose. Compulsory notes and more formal responses to the readings will be recorded in the Writer’s Sketchbook, as well as discussed in class. In our discussions, we will examine gender, cultural and historical influences, the diversity of narrative forms, and particularly the relationship of the author to the Mediterranean landscape and the city of Rome.

2) Analyze relationships among statements, questions, concepts, descriptions, or other forms of representation intended to express beliefs, judgments, experience, reasons, information, or opinions:

Students will encounter and analyze a range of texts, encountering writers whose expressions represent diverse beliefs, experiences and judgments.

3) Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of varying points of view:

Via encounters with various writings, both historical and contemporary, as well as the student work, itself, students will learn to evaluate varied points of view.

 4) Generate new ideas, hypotheses, opinions, theories, questions, and proposals; and develop strategies for seeking and synthesizing information to support an argument, make a decision, or resolve a problem:

Discussions of both the readings and student work will aid students in the generation of new ideas and strengthen their own creative decision making process.

5) Construct cases, adapted to appropriate audiences, contexts, forms, and media, in support of reasoned judgments, and to engage in a process of argument and counterargument in order to express and test those judgments.  

Workshops (peer reviews) of the fiction produced will aid students in the practice of both critique and defense of their own work and the work of others.  Critiques will allow for editorial decisions and the resolution of problems that have revealed themselves in drafts of a particular work.

6) Monitor individual thinking or behavior in order to question, confirm, validate, or correct it.

The writing workshops and discussions will arm students with information and tools to approach their work in the writing and revision process, which is essentially solitary. The revision process is essential to producing strong writing and allows students to profit from earlier analysis and critique.


Learning Activities:

a.) Classes will include lectures and discussions of the assigned readings.  Lectures will inform students about the varied literary history produced by both a fascination with and a reaction to Rome through the ages. In-class discussions will be an important component. Students will be expected to participate in the discussions of reading assignments and other topics covered, as well as during in-class critiques and analysis of the work produced by their colleagues. Students will be required to write responses to the assigned readings and submit them as part of the homework grade.

b) Classes will also include site visits that coordinate with the readings and homework assignments and will enhance and inform the writing being done over the course of the semester.  On-site classes take advantage of the Rome location, providing physical access to the places evoked in the published works of fiction that we will read, and serving as a springboard for the generation of student work.  While on site, student will respond to writing prompts and/or will be given specific homework assignments that connect to the site visits and readings.  Students should be prepared for site visits, having read the required readings and/or completed the homework.


c) Students will often be called upon to share their works-in-progress with their peers. This will aid student flexibility and build confidence in oral competency, descriptive and analytical writing skills, and sensory perceptions. This will also help build vocabulary and verbal language skills.

d) In addition to other writing assignments, each student will maintain a “Writer’s Sketchbook” in which they will write during class and use as a place to draft early work. The Sketchbook will function as a place for risk-taking and “sketching” or recording and drafting ideas for further exploration. It will also serve as a document of the sites visited and the writing generated over the course of the term.

e) A portion of some of the classes will be devoted to peer reviews of the creative work in development. Students will be required to give written and oral feedback to their colleagues. This is born of the philosophy that all creative work, especially writing, benefits from thoughtful critique and careful revision. Students will learn how to improve their own work by reviewing and responding to the prose developed by their peers. Students will occasionally be required to present their work orally in class.

g) Discussions of the required readings will demonstrate the student’s ability to think critically and analyze theme, structure, content, form, and other literary devices that they will later employ in their own writing.  The readings will focus mainly on the selected areas chosen for site visits.

h) Lectures on the selected readings will provide a contextual foundation for the writing that the city of Rome has inspired through the ages, as well as for the myriad ways that writers have interpreted the Roman landscape. The readings will vary widely with respect to period, content and style and will work in conjunction with the, lectures, discussions, site visits, and writing assignments.


Evaluation Methods: 

Participation (in class & on site), writer’s sketchbook and writing assignments, reader response homework assignments, workshop or peer reviews of colleague’s work, micro-fiction assignments (out of class), the short story, the postcard, and final revisions.


Grade Breakdown:

10% Participation / Preparedness / Attendance

10% Peer Reviews

15% Sketchbook  (includes Homework / In & Out of Class Writing / Reader Response)

15% Roman Snapshot (draft ungraded, 15% for revision)

15% Roman Postcard (final version only)

15% Roman Microfiction (final version only)

20% Roman Story (draft ungraded, 20% for revision)



Participation is of the utmost importance. Discussion and lectures will provide a foundation for the course, however students will be expected to come prepared to contribute to class discussions. Site visits make up a large portion of the classes, so you should also buy yourself an excellent map for the city of Rome.  This will be as indispensable as the sketchbook and texts. If you miss a particular site visit, you are required to visit the location on your own time and write about it in your sketchbook and/or follow up on any on-site writing. There will be writing prompts distributed in class that coordinate with homework assignments. You will be responsible for following up with any missed work.  Specific guidelines will be handed out before each assignment is due.  If, at any time, you find you have questions about the assigned readings or the papers and other assignments, please feel free to contact me via Email or make an appointment to meet with me.


Attendance Policy: 

Our discussions – and your participation in them – along with the site visits are a large component of this course, therefore attendance is mandatory.  Please note that three (3) unexcused absences may result in failure for the course. Two (2) unexcused absences will result in the lowering of your final grade by one complete grade. If you have a valid reason to miss class, please try to let me know in advance of your absence or follow up with me as soon as possible afterward.  Medical and other excuses need to be cleared via the JFRC Dean’s office, not by me.


Academic Integrity:  Plagiarism is considered a serious offense, will be reported to the Dean of the Loyola Rome program, and could result in expulsion.  Please see me with any questions you may have about the written assignments. 



Required Text & Course Reader:  Both may be purchased in the JFRC Bookstore


Book Title



ISBN number

Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide from New York's Acclaimed Creative Writing School


Gotham Writers Workskhop

Bloomsbury USA


The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone

Tennessee Williams

New Directions


Course Reader (Stories)


Available in JFRC bookstore




Course Reader & Map:

Along with the textbooks, you are obliged to purchase the course reader, which contains all of the short stories for the class. It is available in JFRC bookstore. You are also required to buy a detailed map of Rome (with street names.) The map is indispensable & compulsory.



Course Schedule:  A detailed schedule of assignments and readings will be distributed in class.


Week One:       Course Intro:  Landscape as Character & Writing Fiction

Week Two:      Site Visit; Characterization; Reader Response due

Week Three:    Site Visit; POV; Roman Snapshot due

Week Four:      JFRC; Workshop

Week Five:      Site Visit; Plot; Reader Response due

Week Six:        Site Visit; Dialogue

Week Seven:    Site Visit; Roman Stories due

Fall Break

Week Eight: JFRC; Workshop; critiques due

Week Nine:  JFRC; Workshop; critiques due

Week Ten:  Site Visit; Using Imagery; Reader Response due

Week Eleven: Site Visit; Poetry in Prose; Roman Postcard due

Week Twelve: Site Visit; Flashbacks/Reflections; Reader Response due

Week Thirteen: Site Visit; Sketchbooks due

Week Fourteen:  Roman Microfiction due; Course Wrap Up: 

Final Exam Week:  Final Portfolios Due