College Courses

Since the late 1990s, I’ve taught regularly (usually two courses a semester) at the University of Connecticut. Typically, I teach fantasy literature and an intensive writing course in the fall, and science fiction and book publishing in the spring. Sometimes I’ll teach a masterworks course (like the one I taught the past couple summers) or an experimental course (like the course in getting published that I taught last spring).

Usually I’ll teach online version of the SF and fantasy courses in the summer as well.

For those interested in how I structure my courses (as well as for prospective students), here are recent versions of some courses I teach. (These are for sample purposes only; since books and events change from semester to semester, if you’re a current student please make sure you’re using this semester’s syllabus.)

English 217 – The Literature of Science Fiction

This course traces major themes and concepts in science fiction from the Golden Age writers of the 1930s, through the New Wave of the 1960s and 1970s, to the present day. Students will focus on works by Asimov, Bradbury, Heinlein, LeGuin, and other writers – both well-known and forgotton – as well as their impact on the field. The development and impact of particular ideas in speculative fiction will be traced as well, along with the relationship of science fiction literature to other genres and other media, and the state of the s.f. publishing field today – including the dramatic editorial and demographic shifts of the last 10 years, and some of the most important current writers.

Click here to view the syllabus.

English 294 – Books and Book Publishing

Where do books come from? This advanced publishing course delves into how book publishing works, and all of the steps a manuscript goes through in becoming a book – and why some books sell while others don’t. The course also touches on the skills necessary to break into and to be successful in the publishing field, whether as a line editor, production editor, writer, agent, publicist, or other creative position. A number of publishing professionals will be on hand as guest lecturers on specific topics, and to answer questions.

You can also read some of my essays on publishing topics and getting published in the essays section.

Click here to view the syllabus.

English 249W – Advanced Expository Writing

A hands-on approach to writing, the course focuses on composing and revising a long piece (typically 70-100 pages) in the student’s area of interest, either nonfiction or fiction. Students will be expected to write quickly and effectively, and to learn how to usefully critique other students’ work as well as their own. Each student will set writing goals with the instructor at the beginning of the semester, and will be expected to achieve those goals. Several publishing professionals will act as guest lecturers and critics.

Click here to view the syllabus.

English 217 – The Literature of Fantasy

This course traces major themes and concepts in fantasy from the pulp writers of the 1920s and 1930s to the present day. Students will focus on works by Robert E. Howard, J. R. R. Tolkein, T. H. White, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and other writers – both well-known and forgotton – as well as their impact on the field. The development and impact of particular ideas in fantasy will be traced as well, from the genre’s roots in Medieval storytelling through its recent spread into other genres. The state of the fantasy publishing field today will also be examined – including the dramatic editorial and demographic shifts of the last 10 years, and important current writers.

Click here to view the syllabus.

English 296 – Getting Published in Science Fiction and Fantasy

This one-credit mini-course looks at how to identify and submit to professional and semi-pro markets, how to prepare a manuscript for publication, how to tell real markets from scams, how and when to find an agent, and other crucial steps in? breaking in as a new writer. While much of the course is true of most fiction genres, the focus is specifically on SF/F markets, and some knowledge of the field is suggested.

This course was offered for the first time in Spring 2006.