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The Art of Editing

ENGL 126.301
instructor(s):
Wednesdays 2-5:00 pm
fulfills requirements:
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

This course takes a critical and practical approach to the art of editing poetry and prose. Is the editor simply a “failed writer,” as T. S. Eliot claimed, or can good editing bring clarity and integrity to the creative process? In addition to exploring theories and histories of the red pen, we will consider a few case studies of editorial interventions, such as Ezra Pound’s excisions and revisions of Eliot’s The Waste Land, Marianne Moore’s five-decade quest to revise a single poem, and the editor who was discovered to have invented Raymond Carver’s distinctive narrative style. We will then immerse ourselves in the technical aspects of editing, mastering such topics as the difference between developmental and line editing, the merits of MLA and Chicago style, proofreading in hard copy and digital environments, and when to wield an em dash. Students will learn how to edit their own work and the work of their peers in regular workshops, and will also be given the opportunity to edit material for Jacket2, the journal in poetry and poetics.