Like many institutions of higher learning, the University of Iowa (my alma mater) has begun offering Massive Open Online Courses. Given that Iowa is home to both the Iowa Writers Workshop and the International Writing Program it’s not surprising that the initial offerings play to those strengths.
The first course, which began in mid-February but is still open for registration, features an in-depth look at Whitman’s A Song of Myself. If you’re interested in poetry, the roots of modern poetry, American history, the roots of American individualism, or Whitman himself, you can’t go wrong here.
The second course, which begins in June, is called How Writers Write, and features a survey of writers from various literary walks of life. I think this course might be particularly useful to people who are actively writing because there are a lot of conventional beliefs about how writing is or should be done, and nothing obliterates such assertions more quickly than hearing writers speak to those issues themselves.
I consider it axiomatic that half of writing is learning the craft and the other half is learning how you yourself write. No two writers go about it the same way, and hearing from other writers how they engage the process of writng can be quite liberating. Particularly when they’re even more idiocincratic than you.
– Mark Barrett