William Ryan, co-director of the Writing Center and a faculty associate in the School of Social Science, has been at Hampshire since 1980. Before then, he was a counselor at Johnson State College in Johnson, Vermont, and also a high school history and English teacher. He has a B.A. and M.Ed. from the University of Vermont, and an M.A. in American history from the University of Massachusetts.
A freelance writer with an interest in outdoor recreation, he has written two books on fishing and serves as a contributing editor at Gray's Sporting Journal, where he edits and writes a column on the history of hunting and fishing.
This course will explore the work of scholars, essayists, and creative writers in order to use their prose as models for our own. We'll analyze scholarly explication and argument, and we'll appreciate the artistry in our finest personal essays and short fiction. Students will complete a series of critical essays in the humanities and natural sciences and follow with a personal essay and a piece of short fiction. Students will have an opportunity to submit their work for peer review and discussion; students will also meet individually with the instructors. Frequent, enthusiastic revision is an expectation. Limited to Division One Students.
This course will explore the questions surrounding the coming of the American Civil War (1861-1865), the war itself, Reconstruction (1866-1877) and how we have come to remember those events today. As much a writing seminar as a history class, the course will focus on selections from the voluminous writing the conflict produced: letters, journals, diaries, and autobiographies. We will study poetry, short stories and novels; biographies and scholarly monographs and articles on the various debates surrounding the war. These forms of writing will also serve as models for student written work. Students will be expected to participate in class discussion and complete four writing assignments.
Tumultuous and robust, American cities have certainly enjoyed a rich history. As this course is primarily a writing seminar, we're particularly interested in how Americans have given voice to their urban experience, beginning with the literary realism of the late 19th century and culminating in the various expressions of the hip-hop culture of today. Are there universals in the urban story? How and why do shifting populations tell different stories? We'll read history, biography, autobiography, journalism, fiction, and poetry in order to understand the tensions that have informed urban life. More importantly, we'll also study these writings with an eye towards adopting their approaches in our own critical and creative written assignments.
This seminar will explore approaches to writing about people in the outdoors -- working, playing, transforming nature, or simply contemplating the world. We will read and critique a number of genres including traditional nature writing, historical accounts, creative nonfiction, fiction, and academic analyses. We will pay particular attention to narrative choices and the role of the narrator as well as to the use of landscape description, scientific language, and other vehicles for constructing ideas of nature. Our analytical focus will be on the historical and cultural origins of both mainstream and critical views of the human presence in the natural world. We will use these readings both as models of good writing and as contributions to the rich discourse about people in the outdoors. These readings will also help us develop some criteria for peer review of written work. There will be regular writing assignments, including portraits, analysis of primary historical materials, literary journalism, advocacy, and creative expression. Students will be expected to contribute to class discussion and group critique in an informed and constructive manner.
This course takes a "forms of writing" approach to studying America in the early 1960s. Assignments will include literary analyses, research essays, portraits, and short fiction, and will consider such diverse topics as civil rights, nuclear annihilation and the rise of youth culture. We will explore how the charm of the Kennedy style and the drama of the Kennedy assassination disguised the mounting cultural, social and political turbulence of the period. To do so, we'll analyze television, magazines and music, although the literature of the early 1960s will receive our closest scrutiny: James Baldwin, Rachel Carson, Truman Capote, Betty Friedan, Michael Harrington, C. Wright Mills and others not only changed American society, but ultimately left us rich models for our own efforts today. Approximately half the classes will be devoted to student analytical and creative writing.
To this day, the charm of the Kennedy style and the drama of the Kennedy assassination disguise the mounting critique of American society during the first half of the 1960s. Upon closer examination, the criticism appears not only prescient but quite artful in its presentation. We will explore the social and political particulars under question - and also look to the writing as models for our own prose. We will devote considerable time to the development of effective writing strategies. Readings will include the work of Eqbal Ahmad, James Baldwin, Toni Cade Bambara, Rachel Carson, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Betty Friedan, Michael Harrington, Joseph Heller, Jules Henry, Harper Lee, C. Wright Mills, and William Appleman Williams.
Co-Director of Writing Program & Senior Faculty Associate
Mail Code WP
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002