Instructor: Stewart
T 2:00 PM – 4:50 PM

We’re going to talk about generating and managing emotion in the writing of fiction. Through readings across genres, as well as craft essays, we’ll look at techniques for approaching moments of strong emotion—a funeral, a breakup, a fight, a declaration of love—with an eye on point of view, prose style, characterization, worldbuilding, and tone. In my translation of the Poetics, Aristotle declares that plays should generate pity and fear in their audience. We’ll be asking what emotions we and the writers we read wish to generate, and we’ll be looking closely at what we find successful in an effort to expand our own skillsets. We’ll be asking how strongly those emotions are intended to be felt (a breakup in a sitcom is not the same as a breakup in a romance novel) and how the writers’ formal strategies affect the degree of emotional impact. We’ll also interrogate concepts like sentimentality and the novel of ideas as we attempt to find our own balance between the intellectual and emotional imperatives of making art.