Download the syllabus, or read it below:


Course Title: CWRT 3600:01: Special Topics: The Lyric Essay

 Course Time: Mondays 2:00-5:40 p.m. 

Course Location: Benildus 214


Julia Goldberg

Office Location: Benildus Hall, Room 219

Office Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 12:30-2 p.m. or by appointment


Please ensure you communicate with me through your SFUAD email account. Emails from other providers may be blocked and fail to make it through the interwebs.


Required Books

The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction: Advice and Essential Exercises from Respected Writers, Editors, and Teachers

Dinty W. Moore, 2012         Rose Metal Press         ISBN: 9780984616664

The Next American Essay (A New History of the Essay)         John D’Agata, 2003 ISBN: 9781555973759


This course is partially a paper-free class. Weekly assignments, as well as many of the supplementary readings, will be available on:

Please check the website EVERY WEEK to ensure you have the most current weekly assignments.


This class has numerous supplementary readings, some of which will be available on the class website. You are expected to keep up with all readings. Any changes to the readings will be announced in class and be available on the course website. 


Mandatory attendance is required for Creative Writing students (there will be a sign-in sheet for attendance at the events). All CWL required event will include a sign-in sheet. Be sure to sign the sign-in sheet to receive credit for attendance. All events are held in O’Shaughnessy Performance Space in Benildus.

September 8: Returning Student Reading and CWL Welcome Party, 7 p.m. in O’Shaugnessy

September 22: Required Reading:  Anne Valente, 7 p.m. in O’Shaugnessy

November 10Required Reading, CWL Alumni Reading 7 p.m. in O’Shaugnessy 


In 1997, Seneca Review surveyed a growing body of work it deemed “poetic essays” or “essayistic poems,” noting that such hybrids “give primacy to artfulness over the conveying of information. They forsake narrative line, discursive logic, and the art of persuasion in favor of idiosyncratic meditation.” And the Lyric Essay was born. Or was it? Since then, the Lyric Essay has continued to defy simple categorization or labeling, and has lent itself to a still-evolving critical discourse regarding form, lyricism and intent. In this course, students will critically explore a myriad of works by practitioners working from all angles in the Lyric Essay subgenre, and consider the ways in which these works conform to, expand and push the boundaries of various established and emergent techniques, including but not limited to the prose poem, hermit crab essay, collage work, and the braided essay. Students also will create and workshop their own Lyric Essays, experimenting with a variety of forms. Readings may include work by Eula Bliss, David Shields, John D’Agata, Jenny Boully, Lia Purpura, Anne Carson and more. 


 There will be three major creative writing projects in this course:

  • a flash creative non-fiction piece
  • a “received forms” piece
  • a prose poem

There also will critical writing assignments as well as in-class writing assignments.

• There will be a final paper analyzing one of the term’s assigned readings.

• There will be an extra-credit lyric multi-media project 

Typing/Format of Assignments for Final Paper and Critical Work

  • All assignments must be typed, and use the following guidelines:
  • Please use the same font throughout the paper: either Times, Ariel or Courier, 12 point
  • Leave a one-inch margin on both sides of the paper; justify the left side and leave the right ragged
  • Double-space
  • One space between words; one space between sentences
  • Indent each paragraph with a tab or one-half inch
  • Include a title page, double-spaced, with the assignment name, paper title, student name and date
  • Follow style specifications for references, which will be discussed in class
  • Obvious style exceptions will be made for the lyric essays and other non-comforming writing assignments. However, all work will be graded for grammar and writing mechanics, including critique sheets.

Writing Workshops

Workshops will be used for the three major creative nonfiction pieces due this semester.

Regarding the workshop environment: Class must be a non-judgmental place where writers can bring their work and ask for help toward improvement of their projects. Due to the nature of non-fiction writing, it is very important that writers feel confident that their work will not be discussed with anyone other than the members of this class. Critiques will be accomplished through the writing workshop critique sheets and in-class discussions. Your critiques of your classmates’ work are an important component of this class and your grade. Workshop materials must be submitted for critique when due in order to participate in the workshop.

Workshops will not be rescheduled, and those who fail to participate will be penalized accordingly for mid-term and final grades.

Students are required to provide copies of their work for their workshop groups and for the instructor.

All work submitted for workshop must be new work; reusing work generated for previous classes is considered plagiarism.

All students’ workshop materials are due on the same day.

Do not arrive late to class due to last-minute printing of workshop materials. Print well ahead of class and arrive on time. All lateness will adversely affect your grade.

Workshop Schedule will be assigned after all materials are turned in.

Critique Sheets

Critique sheets will be distributed for use for evaluation of your peers’ work, and will require evaluation of classmates’ writing according to the craft principles that are the bedrock of this class.

With both written and oral critiques, students should take care to objectively evaluate the work on technical, thematic and linguistic merits, and refrain from unproductive and subjective evaluations.

Critique sheets will be graded and evaluated for thoroughness, coherence and writing ability, as well as for the critique writer’s own ability to demonstrate understanding and knowledge of the technical aspects of writing designated for each critique.

Copies required: one for the writer whose work has been critiqued; one for the instructor.

Critical Writing Assignments

The critical writing assignments are designed to apply your growing knowledge of the techniques of creative non-fiction to the course’s reading assignments. 


Participation in class discussions and the workshop are mandatory, and will be evaluated as such for mid-term and final grades.

Coming prepared to class means:

  • reading all materials thoroughly, more than once if necessary
  • researching names and events that appear in essays if they are unfamiliar
  • writing down discussion questions and observations to share with class
  • making note of specific examples in the text to read and share in class to accompany your observations about technique, theme and language
  • In workshop, contributing value and specific feedback that will help not only an individual writer, but all members of the class further their understanding of the text and the writing principles under discussion



 100 percent class attendance is required and is critically important to faculty and your peers. More than 1 absence will adversely affect your grade. More than 3 absences can result in not receiving credit for the course. Tardiness is unacceptable and will also result in a lowering of your final grade. Bottom line: Attend every class in a timely manner.

You are allowed one excused absence per semester before absences will impact your grade in this course. You are allowed one tardy per semester. Our class meets once a week. Each absence over the one allowed will deduct from your final grade. Each tardy over the one allowed will deduct one point off your final grade.

If you are more than 10 minutes late, you will be marked tardy. If you are more than 15 minutes late, you will be considered absent.

 Late Assignments  

Late work will be penalized 10 percent per day (with the “late clock” beginning at class time rather than the end of the day), and will only be accepted up to four days after the initial deadline.

 Electronic Devices

 Cell phones, MP3 players, and other personal communication or entertainment devices are to be silenced or turned off, and not used or displayed during the class period.

 Accommodating Special Needs

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Santa Fe University of Art and Design makes every effort to provide appropriate accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Students may receive these accommodations if they contact their professor and register with Charlie Miu, Disability Services Coordinator and Director of Academic Advising, at 505-473-6713 ( 

Academic Integrity

Santa Fe University of Art and Design values academic integrity. It is the policy of our university to foster creative and academic work that is both original and based on fundamental principles of academic integrity. If a student’s writing or other creative projects use the work of someone else, that use must be formally acknowledged. When taking information or quotes from other authors and incorporating that material into a writing assignment, students must acknowledge the source and authorship of the material they borrow by properly citing it using Modern Language Association (MLA) standards. Similarly, when students’ creative projects incorporate other artists’ ideas, or any visual, electronic, audio, or other creative content, they must acknowledge and give credit to those artists according to discipline-specific guidelines. It is the responsibility of the student to understand and adhere to this university policy, follow prescribed guidelines, and understand the consequences of violating the policy. Enrollment in this university assumes a commitment to upholding the principles of academic integrity. The complete policy on academic integrity, including penalties for violations of policy and processes for appeal, is available for review in the Student Handbook and Academic Catalog.

Written work in this class must be original; work written or submitted for previous classes or assignments may not be used in this course. Resubmitting work from other classes/ previous assignments is considered a form of plagiarism.

Emergency Class Cancellation

If an emergency arises in which class must be cancelled, a note will be posted on the classroom door informing students of the cancellation and related information. If a cancellation notice is not posted, students are expected to remain in the classroom until dismissed by a college representative. In the event of severe weather, students should listen to local radio/television announcements for information or check the Santa Fe University website: If the college is open, students are expected to attend class.


 Flash Non-Fiction Piece, including revisions: 200 points

 Prose Poem: 200 points

 Received Forms: including revisions 200 points

 Critical Response pieces: 100 points

 Critiques and Workshops: 100 points

 In-class writing and discussions: 100 points

 Final paper: 100 points

 Extra Credit: Up to 100 points

 Total Points for semester: 1,000 points


 A: 91-100

 B: 80-90

 C: 70-79

 D: 60-69


 A 100% – 90: ( 900-1,000 points)

 B 89% – 80%         (800-899 points)

 C 79% – 70%         (700-799)

 D 69% – 60%         (600-699 points)

 F Below 60%         (599 and fewer points)


 Assignments are subject to change. Please always consult the course website for up-to-date weekly assignments.

Aug. 31: Intro to class, syllabus review, assignments for next week, in-class writing exercise; in-class reading & discussion exercise, including Eula Biss’ “It Is What It Is”

September 7: Labor Day; no classes

September 14: Read for class:

• Read from the Rose Metal Guide to Flash Nonfiction: “Of Fire and Ice,” pages XIII-XXV and all the essays included in the “Mysterious, Ambitious, and Intimate: The Flash Nonfiction Form (pages 1-22)

Also read in Rose Metal Guide to Flash Nonfiction:

All the essays in “No Ideas But in Things” :The Power of Image and Detail (pages 28-50)

 “Grounding the Lyric Essay” by Judith Kitchen (handout)

 Read: “A Skeptical Take” by Phillip Lopate (handout)

 Read the following essays, all of which are online through the class website:

  • “The Little Black Dress” by Dinah Lenney
  • The Journal Interview with Lia Purpura
  • Fourth Genre Explorations in Nonfiction
  • Seneca Review “intro” to Lyric Essay
  • Ben Marcus on The Lyric Essay


September 21:

Read for class: Rose Metal Anthology, “Writing Through Innocence and Experience by Sue William Silverman; “The Sounds and Sense of Sentences” by Barbara Hurd; “Weaving Past, Present, and Future in Flash Nonfiction,” “Over the River and Through the Woods, to Almanac We Go: On the Use of Research and Lists in Flash,” “Building a Frame, Giving an Essay a Form;”

September 28: All first drafts due for first workshop on Flash Nonfiction. You must bring one hard copy for each member of the class, and one copy for Julia

Read for class in Rose Metal: “All the essays in the chapter “The Singular Moment: Where to Begin, Where to End” (pages 134-151) and all the essays in Against the Grain: Alternative Approaches to flash Nonfiction (pages 157-164)

October 5: Workshop Group #1 Flash Nonfiction

Read for class: “Some Thoughts on Lyric Essay” by Mary Ruefle

October 12: Workshop Group #2 Flash Nonfiction

Read for class: “What is a Lyric Essay” by Lia Purpura (handout)

 Read: Read for class: “Michael Martone’s Leftover Water Bottle” by Patrick Madden (handout); “Mr. Plimpton’s Revenge” by Dinty Moore (link on website) 

October 19: Read for class in The Next American Essay: “Search for Marvin Gardens” by John McPhee; “The White Album” by Joan Didion; “Life Story” by David Shields

October 26: Read for class in The Next American Essay: “Captivity” by Sherman Alexie; “The Body” by Jenny Boully; “Outline Toward a Theory of the Mine versus the Mind and the Harvard Outline” by Ander Monson (handout)

November 2: Drafts Received Form Essays due in class for all students. Read for class in The Next American Essay: “”Kinds of Water” by Anne Carson; “The Theory and Practice of Postmodernism: A Manifesto” by David Antin

November 9: Workshop Group #1 Received Form

Read for class: “Thirteen Blackbirds Looking at a Lyric Essay” by Dionisio D. Martinéz (handout)

November 16: Workshop Group #2 Received Form

Read for class: “I Can not Escape the Prose Poem” by Brigitte Byrd; “Why I Write Prose Poems” by Kathleen McGookey”; “Split” by Mark Wallace; “Writing the Brief Contrary Essay” by Patrick Madden (handouts)

November 23: Read for class: “Foucault and Pencil” by Lydia Davis (in The Next American Essay) “It’s not in Cleveland, but I’m Getting Closer” by Tung-Hui; excerpts from “Bluets” by Maggie Nelson; “Autopsy Report” by Lia Purpura (handouts)

November 23: Prose Poem Drafts Due for all students; Video Essay

discussion; in-class training for multimedia lyric essays

November 30:

Workshop: Prose Poem, Group #1

 December 7: Prose Poem, Group #2; final review; wrap-up

 December 14: FINALS WEEK; Final paper due; extra credit due by this time;