English 587 

Theory of Fiction/Creative Nonfiction/Poetry

The Lannan Readings & Conversation Series

W 4:00-6:30 + Santa Fe Expeditions

Fall 2006

Greg Martin


Office:  Humanities 257

Office Hours:   Wednesdays 2:00-3:30 and by appointment

Phone:  277-6145

E-mail:  gmartin@unm.edu 

Course website:  www.unm.edu/~gmartin



  1. Pastoralia  George Saunders*
  2. Loot  Nadine Gordimer
  3. By the Lake  John McGahern
  4. All Will Be Well John McGahern
  5. Wilderness Tips Margaret Atwood
  6. A Night at the Movies  Robert Coover
  7. American Primitive  Mary Oliver
  8. Dancing in the Dark Caryl Phillips
  9. The Black Notebooks Toi Derricotte


*The two stories we will read  and discuss from Pastoralia are on e-reserve, but I strongly recommend that you buy it also.  It's excellent.


Stories, Essays. Poems, Interviews  on On E-reserve at Zimmerman Library.  Password: study587)

  1. "Reading" Richard Ford
  2. "My Guilty Pleasures"  George Saunders
  3. "The Barber's Unhappiness" George Saunders
  4. "The End of Firpo in the World" George Saunders
  5. Interview with George Saunders--Missouri Review
  6. Poems & Essays  TBA  Mary Oliver
  7. Poems by the Cave Canem readers TBA
  8. "The Plague of Doves" Louise Erdrich

  9. "Gleason" Louise Erdrich

Lannan Podcasts

  1. George Saunders
  2. Nadine Gordimer
  3. John McGahern
  4. Margaret Atwood
  5. Louise Erdrich



The Lannan Foundation produces one of the finest reading series in the country.  Every other Wednesday, at the Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe, writers with national and international reputations read from their work, and then are interviewed afterwards, on stage (in comfortable chairs), by other writers of national and international reptuation.  This literature course for creative writers focuses exclusively on the work of the writers of the Lannan Series.  The class will attend the readings during the fall semester, all the while reading and discussing the works of the readers.  For each author, students will write brief essays (1) which illuminate elements of craft that compel them, and (2) which relate these craft elements to their own creative work—the work of their dissertation. 


The goal of the course is practical:  to each week look at books, stories, essays and poems and ask the questions:  How was this made?  Why was it made this way?  How does an understanding of this shape my own work? 


Course Requirements


Reading Responses:  (60%) One 3-5 page response will be required each week that we meet in the classroom. (No response is due on those weeks that we travel together to Santa Fe.)   These responses should be composed and focused, not tossed off and written off the top of your head.  Bring two copies of your response to class each week, one for me and one for another person in class.  Give your response to a different person each week.  Late reading responses will not receive credit.  (See handout on website for more details.) 


Craft Essay:  (40%)  Each student will write one craft essay (approximately ten to twenty pages) on a book, story, stories, memoir, memoirs, author, authors, or craft concern which grows out of the course reading and your reading responses.  (Do you see how wide open this assignment is?!?  Do you see how you can pretty much do what you want if you base it on something related to the class?!?  Rather than daunted, you feel excited, grateful even?!? 


Note:  If you miss class more than twice it will affect your grade.


Readings & Responsibilities



Week 1                                                                       


Introductions.  Syllabus.  Saunder's "Sticks" & "Adams"



Week 2           


  • Saunder's "My Guilty Pleasures" (e)
  • Saunder's "The Barber's Unhappiness" (e)
  • Saunder's "The End of Firpo in the World"
  • Interview with George Saunders--Missouri Review (e)
  • Lannan Podcast (on CD) George Saunders (e)
  • Richard Ford’s "Reading"   (e)
  • Reading Response (h)
  • Notes on Craft (h)



Week 3



  • Gordimer's Loot
  • Lannan Podcast (on CD) Nadine Gordimer


Week 4                                                           


  • McGahern's By the Lake
  • Lannan Podcast (on CD) John McGahern



Week 5


  • McGahern's All Will Be Well



Week 6


  • Atwood's Wilderness Tips

  • Lannan Podcast (on CD) Margaret Atwood



Week 7


  • Coover's A Night at the Movies



Week 8


  • Robert Coover at the Lensic in Santa Fe




Week 9


  • Oliver's American Primitive

  • Poems and Essays Oliver TBA


Week 10


  • Mary Oliver at the Lensic in Santa Fe




Week 11


  • Caryl Phillips at the Lensic in Santa Fe



Week 12


  • Phillips's Dancing in the Dark



Week 13


  • Cave Canem at the Lensic in Santa Fe



Week 14





Week 15

  •  Derricotte's The Black Notebooks

  • Cave Canem poems TBA (e)




Week 16


  • Erdrich's "The Plague of Doves"

  • Erdrich's "Gleason"

  • Lannan Podcast on CD  Louise Erdrich



Week 17


 Jonathan Kozol at the Lensic


 Note:  Readings are due on the date listed.