Course description

In many works of literature and film, the hero or heroine must leave the ordinary world and descend to an underworld, a place tied up with our most essential beliefs about culture and psychology. In this underworld, the protagonist must face mortality and gain knowledge to bring back to the world of the living. In this advanced writing course, we explore underworlds in prose, poetry, and film, possibly including but not limited to Karen Russell's Swamplandia!, Grace Dane Mazur's The Garden Party, Katherine May's Wintering, and Homer's Odyssey, as well as films like Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away and Disney's Coco. Drawing upon the great literary pool of underworld traditions, students write their own stories about descents (both literal and metaphorical), creatively depicting the other world, the risks faced, and the knowledge gained. Students produce a complete short story, a chapter of a new work, or a new chapter for a work in progress.

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