Summer Writing Course | Short Prose Forms

3 points
Session 1 (May 23-July 1), MW, 2-4:10PM
Instructor: Rebecca Godfrey
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How short can a story be? Can we create the beauty and richness of a novel in a piece that is as short as a sentence, at the most only a page or two? In this course, we'll explore what we can (and can't ) do in work that is under 2,000 words as we look at the increasingly popular and innovative form of the "short short"prose poems, flash fiction and brief (very brief) personal essays under 2,000 words. The form offers the writer the chance to hone in on and focus on their craft, by paying close attention to detail, language, character, voice and tone, while also creating work that is immediate, urgent and often extraordinarily innovative. Students will write and discuss short pieces that may be fragments, moments or lists, surreal or dreamlike, traditional or experimental, but are always, as the author Jayne Anne Phillips says, "Fast, precise, over. And not over. The one-page fiction should hang in the air of the mind like an image made of smoke."

This course is primarily a workshop, so students will write 3-4 pieces (in and out of class), and we'll also read and discuss short pieces by Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, Mavis Gallant, Dave Eggers, Christine Schutt, Jamaica Kincaid, Michael Ondaatje, and Lydia Davis.

Tuition & Fees
The 2016 rate for current degree seeking students and visiting students is $1630 per point. Students enrolled in postbaccalaureate and certification programs can review tuition and fees here.
Materials Fee: $20
For questions about School of the Arts summer courses, including those concerning admissions, registration, and billing, please contact the School of Professional Studies summer team at, or 212-854-9666. With questions about specific course content, please contact Writing Departmental Representative Dorothea Lasky at

About the Instructor
Rebecca Godfrey
Rebecca Godfrey is the author of the novel, The Torn Skirt (HarperCollins), a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Under The Bridge (Simon & Schuster), a work of literary reportage about the arrests and trials of seven teenage girls for the murder of Reena Virk, was featured in GQ and Rolling Stone, and is being adapted for feature film. more
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.