Creative Writing in Rome

St. Peter's Square

Genius loci: the spirit of the place
Few places inspire so reliably as Rome and the hillside towns of the surrounding country. As a participant in the Rome Summer Creative-Writing Program, you may focus on writing poetry or travel narratives. Either way, you will be guided by UD professors of literature and creative writing to explore numerous sites in and about the Eternal City as well as the contours of your imagination and the troves of language. From the campus in Due Santi, we will begin, like Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough, with a visit to nearby volcanic Lake Nemi, the Mirror of Diana. A series of morning sallies into Rome to visit the Capitoline Hill Museum, Roman Ruins, Vatican Museum, Borghese Gallery, and many churches will follow. An evening in the artistic quarter of Trastevere and a day among the fountain-filled, terraced gardens of Tivoli's Villa d'Este are also planned. Most afternoons, we will return from an outing at midday to eat, to discuss exemplary works in our chosen genres, to write, and to engage in critical workshops with fellow participants.

The poetry-writing section will treat lyric as a threshold to the marvelous and give special emphasis to ekphrastic emulations of, or other engagements with, visual art. Guided by the work of such contemporary masters as Seamus Heaney, Richard Wilbur, and Jorie Graham, we will learn how sound and sense may be shaped to movingly represent image-rich terrains, to take on texture and layered meanings like a painting, to encapsulate a story in a moment like a sculpture. Like the relics of Rome, lyric has both an aptitude for monumentality (due to its durable rhythms, rhymes, and salient figures) and a tolerance for fragmentation, for significant ruin. In addition to regular discussions regarding technique, four several-hour workshops will give writers an opportunity to comment upon the efforts of others and to hear their thoughts regarding one's own new poems. Writers generally find that a community of candid, generously spirited critics is invaluable as they refine their art. Leading this section will be poet and poetry scholar Dr. Andrew Osborn. A graduate of Harvard, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the University of Texas at Austin, he teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Dallas.

Travel Writing
Italy has inspired some of the most compelling travel writing of the entire tradition of this art. Goethe, Byron, James, Lawrence, and even the irreverent Twain found Italy a place that moved them to record their impressions and experiences, working out their thoughts and reactions for readers "back home." Today, books about visiting and living in Italy line the shelves of the local bookstores. The travel writer strives to convey the Genius loci from his or her own unique angle of vision, conveying place and interaction with the spaces and people encountered. Guided by the greats, and with some glances at contemporaries, we will work together to refine the arts of seeing, recording, and responding that are the heart of all great travel writing. We will pair with the Poetry section to visit evocative and powerful sites which drew those on the Grand Tour and yet we will not ignore twenty-first century Italy and its beauties, tensions, and struggles. Workshops will focus on techniques of description and on finding one's own voice and using the varied forms of Creative Nonfiction writing to achieve powerful prose. Leading this section will be Dr. Gregory Roper, Chair of the English Department at the University of Dallas, who lived and taught on the UD Rome Campus from 2003-2005 and from 2007-2009.

2012 Program Details
The $3550 price includes for-credit tuition or non-credit course fee, a double-occupancy room in a two-room suite with shared bath, most meals, classes, entrance fees, and faculty-led tours in Rome and elsewhere. Single-room and/or private-bath supplements are available. For those taking the course for credit, a $200 course registration fee will be applied per participant.

Either section may be taken for three semester-hours of graduate credit, though we expect that many will prefer to join us on a non-credit basis. Students who seek credit will arrange with the instructors to submit a portfolio of supplementary writing and revisions for commentary and a final grade later in the summer. Portfolio requirements will be similar to those for a standard-term creative-writing course: e.g., 8-10 pages of poetry or 15-20 pages of travel writing and a short interpretive essay or statement of aesthetic goals. In the interests of maintaining a mutually supportive community, all enrolled writers (including those not seeking credit) will be expected to participate in the course related outings, class discussions, and workshops.

Beauty and Relaxation on Campus
No noisy city setting here. The University's ten-acre campus at Due Santi rests in the beautiful foothills just off the Via Appia southeast of Rome, where ancient Rome got its start and where Romans and Popes take their summer rest. Take a walk in the kiwi grove, kick around a soccer ball, eat fresh Italian food in our mensa, take a dip in the pool, work out in the exercise room, or just sit in the pergola above the working vineyard. You'll find it come paradiso—like paradise—on the grounds of this beautiful former villa.

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