Online Courses

A student sitting in the grass while working on their writing at the Summer Residential Program

The Iowa Young Writers' Studio offers online creative writing courses for high school students twice every year. The courses run for six weeks. We offer the online courses every spring (semester), mid-January through late February, and every summer, late June through early August. We do not offer online courses in the fall. We accept applications in September and October for spring courses and in March and April for summer courses (check this page for updated information). The online courses are run independently of the Summer Residential Program, and though they're intended for students with a passionate interest in writing, admissions decisions for these courses are based less on writing ability than on commitment to learning.

This summer, 2020, we will offer three online courses: creative writing, fiction writing and poetry writing. These courses will run from June 29 through August 6, 2020. All courses will be taught by graduates of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. The online courses will require approximately three hours of engagement per week, which will include writing assignments, reading assigned materials, critiquing classmates’ writing, and participating in online discussions. The courses are asynchronous, meaning that students can complete the weekly assignments and post in the discussion forums on their own schedule in their free time. Students who complete the course and meet all requirements will receive one college credit from the University of Iowa.


Poetry Writing (accepting applications from March 1 until April 10, 2020)

Sensory Overload: Poetic Perception and Poetic Technique (instructor: Margaret Reges) is an online poetry writing class for high school students. The course take its cue from the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, who felt that it was the job of the poet to be a seer (a person who is supposed to be able, through supernatural insight, to see what the future holds). "I say one must be a seer, make oneself a seer," wrote Rimbaud. "The poet makes himself a seer by an immense, long, deliberate derangement of all the senses." What might it mean to be a seer? And how does one derange the senses? How does one adopt a stance of poetic attention, and how does poetic attention differ from “normal” ways of seeing the world? In this entertaining and mind-altering six-week course, you'll  be asked to experiment with the way you perceive the world in an attempt to connect with Rimbaud’s notion of poet as seer. You'll be asked to engage in a number of experiments (e.g. automatic writing, self-hypnosis, guided meditation, lucid dreaming) in order to attempt to derange your perception of the world. In the process, you'll  learn basic concepts and techniques of poetic craft. No prior poetry writing experience is required, though it certainly can’t hurt. Come to this class with an open mind and leave it with an altered sense of how to perceive the world around you. (Students will be required to complete weekly assignments and participate regularly in group discussions).

Creative Writing (accepting applications from March 1 until April 10, 2020)

A Perusable Feast (instructor: TBD) is an online creative writing class for high school students. A Perusable Feast is a genre-mashing, experimental writing course aimed at helping you ask yourself the questions: What sort of writer am I? What sort of reading inspires me? and, What are my artistic sensibilities, anyway? In it, you will test the boundaries between fiction, poetry, nonfiction, drama, journalism, and various other sorts of creative writing which, taken together, constitute a vast and intricate wonder-scape just waiting to be explored. John Crowley, in his novel Little Big, envisions a series of nested imaginative realms, each bigger than the one that contains it. In exploring the realms of the written word, we will take Crowley's model as our own; the farther in you go, the bigger it gets! We will find out how, by working through the nuts and bolts of specific challenges in various kinds of writing, we can gain access to larger ideas about writing in general, ideas that transcend distinctions of "genre" and allow us to make use of our words as tools for thinking, for seeing the world. We will put these tools to use in short, guided writing exercises, which we will discuss, along with published works by established authors, in a conversational online setting. Think of this course as a six-week literary potluck. You are the cook and the banqueter. On both accounts, welcome, and enjoy! (Students will be required to complete weekly assignments and participate regularly in group discussions).

Fiction writing ((accepting applications from March 1 until April 10, 2020

Forget Ready, Forget Set, Go! (instructor: TBD) is an online fiction writing class for high school students. Over the course of six weeks, you'll learn about key aspects of fiction writing such as detail and image; voice and point of view; character, story, and plot; setting; and drafting and revision. You'll do this through a process of creative collaboration (or perhaps collaborative creativity)—each week, you'll read a short piece by one of your classmates and use it as a springboard for your own writing exercises, while simultaneously using your own writing as a tool for working through and appreciating that of your classmates. You’ll also read and respond to published short stories by exciting contemporary writers. The course takes a playful, generative, process-oriented approach to writing. This means you’ll be doing lots and lots of writing, and that, when you read, you’ll be reading as writers—teasing out what makes great stories work. (Students will be required to complete weekly assignments and participate regularly in group discussions).

PLEASE NOTE: If your application is accepted but the above section of the course you applied for has filled you may be offered a section with a different (but equally awesome!) instructor.

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