At Siena, we offer a diverse range of writing courses, from Writing Poetry, to Rhetoric(s) of Hip-Hop Culture, to Experimental Fiction. All students at Siena—no matter their major—are welcome in WRIT (Writing and Communication) courses, and there are classes to suit every level of writer, from beginner to advanced. Students may elect to take one or more WRIT courses as electives; these courses help students to strengthen their written, oral communication, and critical thinking skills. WRIT courses also build skills for students’ majors and develop skills that are highly marketable to future employers or graduate schools.
Karin Lin-Greenberg has been teaching at Siena since 2012. She is the author of Faulty Predictions, which won the 2013 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. At Siena she teaches courses on writing poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, rhetoric and composition, and introductory literature. You can learn more about Karin and her work here: karinlingreenberg.com.
Todd Snyder has been teaching at Siena since 2011. He is the author of The Rhetoric of Appalachian Identity. At Siena he teaches classes in rhetoric and composition and in oral communication. You can learn more about Todd and his work here: www.hillbillyspeaks.com.
If you are interested in learning more about writing courses or the Writing and Communication minor at Siena, please feel free to contact Professor Karin Lin-Greenberg (for creative writing inquiries) at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Todd Snyder (for rhetoric and composition and oral communication inquiries) at email@example.com. We are happy to talk to prospective students and to students currently enrolled at Siena.
The eighteen-credit Writing and Communication minor consists of any six WRIT courses. Our Writing and Communication minors take a variety of classes and learn to think and write imaginatively, critically, and analytically. In this minor, students may explore creative writing in three genres (poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction), critical and argumentative writing, and oral communication. Although many of the Writing and Communications minors at Siena are English majors, there are also students from a diverse range of majors including Business, History, Sociology, Creative Arts, Economics, Psychology, Management, and Accounting.
Here are brief descriptions of the WRIT courses that have been offered recently at Siena:
Introduction to Creative Writing is the first course in the creative writing sequence at Siena and is intended for students with little to no experience with creative writing. This course will introduce students to the basics of writing poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction and will prepare students for further study in these three genres. This class will feature in-class writing, and students should be prepared to write during class time and share what they’ve written out loud for critique. There is a workshop component to this class, and students will share their creative work with their classmates throughout the semester. Students should also be prepared to study and analyze contemporary published poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction and to respond to these readings with short critical responses.
WRIT 250: Writing Poetry (offered yearly)
This course will use peer evaluations and the traditional writing workshop to foster student skills in writing poetry. Students are required to distribute poems they have written to the class for critique and group evaluation. Poetic theory and technique will be examined, and the works of contemporary poets will be studied. Students will be introduced to the art of writing contemporary poetry.
WRIT 260: Writing Short Fiction (offered regularly)
In Writing Short Fiction students will read and study published short stories and will write three short stories of varying lengths. Students are also responsible for writing short analytical responses to the published work they have read. There will be a workshop component to this course, during which students will share their work with the entire class or with a small group of their classmates. Students will complete short creative exercises in and out of class and will decide which exercises to expand upon, polish, and turn in for grades.
WRIT 270: Writing Creative Nonfiction (offered yearly)
In Writing Creative Nonfiction students will explore how to artfully write and shape true stories. Often, writers of creative nonfiction rely on the tools associated with fiction writing and consider craft elements such as characterization, setting, description, and use of figurative language as they write about real events and people. Topics the class will examine include the challenge of turning oneself into a character in an essay, the ethics of creative nonfiction, how to write about what we don’t remember, recreating conversations, and writing about family and friends. Students will read and write various types of essays including memoir, the personal essay, the lyric essay, the nature essay, and the graphic essay. Assignments include three essays and many shorter craft exercises. Students will also be responsible for analytical responses to published work. There will be a workshop component to this course, and students are expected to share their work with classmates and engage in peer review.WRIT 390: Advanced Fiction: Research (a special topics course)
Advanced Fiction: Research is a fiction-writing course intended for students who have successfully completed Writing Short Fiction. In this course, students will conduct research for and write stories on topics outside of their own experience and body of knowledge. Students will closely examine published short stories for which the authors have conducted research. Students will also read craft essays about integrating research into fiction writing. This course will feature two library research sessions, during which students will learn to consult sources which may include scholarly materials, magazine articles, newspaper articles, photographs, legal documents, government resources, music, television shows, and documentaries in order to collect material for their stories. By the course’s conclusion, students will be able to search for materials in the library, evaluate the information they have gathered, and understand how to integrate their research into their creative work. Students should expect to write analyses of published work, two research plans, three stories, and a reflection on the research that was conducted over the course of the semester. There will be a workshop component to this course.
WRIT 390: Advanced Fiction Workshop
Advanced Fiction Workshop is intended for students who have successfully completed Writing Short Fiction and want to continue to study and write short stories. This course will focus on the production of new work and the process of effective revision. Students will build upon the strategies they learned in Writing Short Fiction for being thoughtful readers and editors for their own work and the work of their peers. There will be a workshop component to this course, and students will provide their classmates with written feedback on their work. Students are also responsible for writing short analyses of the published work they will read for class. We will spend time researching and reading online literary journals—especially journals that seek submissions from undergraduate students—and learn about the process of submitting thoroughly revised and carefully proofread work to journals. The final project for this class will involve submitting work to a journal. Prerequisite: WRIT 260: Writing Short Fiction
WRIT 390: Experimental Fiction (a special topics course)
Experimental Fiction will examine the ways in which the boundaries of a short story can be pushed and transgressed. Students will ask and try to answer many questions about what a short story can look like. For example, can a story look like a multiple-choice exam? A grocery list? Can a story be written as a series of tweets? Students will look at many forms a story might take and how stories might borrow from other forms and styles of writing. In this course, students will examine stories that break the “rules” we’re taught in introductory fiction writing classes (such as stories with characters speaking from the grave, stories featuring unusual narrators, stories that are written backwards chronologically). Students will look at stories that rewrite myths and fairy tales and will experiment both with the form and the content of the stories written for this class.
Students should expect to do a substantial amount of reading of published fiction and should expect to respond to these readings with frequent written responses. There is a workshop component to this course, and students are expected to share their work with the class.
WRIT 390: Flash Fiction (a special topics course)
In this class students will have the opportunity to read and write a wide range of very short stories. The semester will begin with an exploration of microfiction (stories of up to 250 words), then continue to explore stories of up to 1,000 words. Students will read stories that have been published in print publications and examine the many online venues that are currently publishing flash fiction.
The following are questions students will work to answer this semester: Are there certain types of stories that are more conducive to flash fiction (in terms of point of view, tone, genre, number of scenes, amount of action, etc.)? Can a short piece of fiction do as much work—in terms of plot and characterization—as a longer piece of fiction? What can be condensed, summarized, or implied in a short piece without losing the meaning and shape of the story? What are the limitations of flash fiction? What can be accomplished in flash fiction that can’t be done in longer fiction?
As culminating activities, students will submit a story to an online journal, put together a chapbook of flash fiction, and present your work in a public venue.
WRIT 390: Writing the Long Short Story (a special topics course)
In Writing the Long Story we will discuss the work that can be accomplished in long stories (between ten and twenty-five pages) in terms of plot, scenes, movement in time, depth of characterization, and world building. For the first third of the semester we will closely examine published long stories and discuss the techniques the authors have used to create their stories. We will also spend class time at the beginning of the semester responding to writing prompts that should lead to long stories. The remainder of the semester will be devoted to workshopping student stories and considering the ways story drafts might be revised. Both literary and genre fiction are welcome in this course. Although students will be writing longer fiction, they still will be required to write short stories that are self-contained; novel excerpts will not be permitted in this course. Writing Short Fiction is the prerequisite for Writing the Long Story; students will be expected to enter the class with a firm grasp on the craft of writing short stories and an understanding of the workshopping process.
WRIT 100 asks students to critique and analyze the methods and motives of other academic writers. Introducing students to basic rhetorical theories and concepts, this course is designed to help students to write effectively for the college academic community, which involves demonstrating critical reading, thinking, researching, and writing skills. The purpose of this course is to help students become familiar with the dominant conventions and expectations of academic argumentation and to assist them in writing persuasive academic prose.
WRIT 200: Advanced Rhetoric and Writing (offered yearly)
Rhetoric is the study and art of persuasion: understanding how "texts" are constructed to persuade specific audiences to think or believe a certain way. Speeches and essays are rhetorical "texts" for sure, but advertisements, films, music, and art can be defined similarly. In WRIT 200 students will be asked to critique and analyze rhetorical "texts" that extend beyond written modes of persuasion. The purpose of this course is to help students become familiar with the role of context, audience, and purpose in the creation of a variety of rhetorical texts.
WRIT 390: Rhetoric(s) of Hip-Hop Culture (a special topics course offered yearly)
Students focus on locating and critiquing rhetorical trends found within hip-hop music, movies, fashion, and other observable aspects of hip-hop identity. In doing so, students will attempt to answer several key research questions. What commonalities can we find in the arguments hip-hop artists make in their music? How are these arguments constructed? What are the cultural implications of these arguments? How do factors such as race, gender, class, and socioeconomic status complicate our understanding of these arguments? The goal of this course is not to justify or defend these messages but rather to present hip-hop, in its true and uncensored form, to a classroom of students who are willing to think rhetorically about its influence on American culture.
WRIT 220 is designed to help students gain confidence and fluency in communicating arguments orally. Introducing students to basic theories and concepts of public speaking, this course explores how verbal and nonverbal communication impacts the rhetorical effectiveness of public speakers. Students will critique, analyze, compose, and perform original persuasive speeches.
Writing and Communication minors can gain real-world work experience through internships with local businesses, publishers, magazines, radio and television stations, and other institutions. These internships last for a full semester, and students earn Siena credits for completing the internships. Recent WRIT minors have held internships at the following places:
Events With Style
Troy Business Improvement District
Saratoga Living Magazine
Siena Sports Communications
Students in writing classes are encouraged to participate fully in the literary community at Siena. Students are involved in activities linked to classes, such as presenting readings of their own creative work, and they also participate in activities such as the English Society, Pendragon (the student literary journal), and The Promethean (the student newspaper) that are open to all Siena students.
Here are some examples of recent writing activities in which our students have participated:
Our Greyfriar visiting writer not only gives a public reading of his or her work, but we carefully select writers who are willing to come work with Siena students for several days in a writer-in-residence capacity. Below, you’ll see pictures of the writer Joseph Bathanti (the Poet Laureate of North Carolina) working with Siena students in a two-day master class on narrative poetry. Students were accepted into the master class on the basis of a writing sample they submitted.
Siena College’s annual “Hip-Hop Week,” sponsored by the Damietta Center for Cross-Cultural Solidarity, is directly linked to WRIT 390: Rhetoric(s) of Hip-Hop Culture. In this class, students take part in the “Hip-Hop Week” festivities, attend cultural immersion field trips, and have the chance to meet Hip-Hop scholars and cultural pioneers. Below, you’ll also see pictures from Rock-N-Roll Hall of Famer Grandmaster Flash’s visit to Dr. Snyder’s class.
Students from Introduction to Creative Writing and Writing Poetry participated in a poetry reading and open mic in March of 2015. Students from the two classes read their work aloud to a crowd that consisted of Siena students, faculty, and parents. After the students from the two classes read their work, an open mic was held, and many members of Siena’s community participated and shared their poetry.
Students in the spring 2013 Flash Fiction class presented a public reading of their work. For more details on this event, click here.
Two student editors of Pendragon attended the FUSE (Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors) Conference at Bennington College in the fall of 2014 with their faculty advisor, Karin Lin-Greenberg. At the conference, the student editors brainstormed ideas for future issues of Pendragon, made connections with editors of other undergraduate literary journals, and came up with ideas about sponsoring literary activities on campus.