BECP Curriculum



and Writing
Fiction: Beginnings & Endings
Social and Environmental Justice
Performing Power and Local Government



Literature and Writing 
Fiction: Beginnings & Endings
Taught by Monica Ferrell
Wednesdays 4:30-6:30 pm EST | September 8, 15, 22, 29 
Register by August 25 at 5:00 pm ET

A reader enters a piece of fiction the way a detective enters a crime scene: sifting the sentences for clues, testing each new detail in order to assess whether it will prove meaningful. In this course, we’ll investigate how writers make maximal use of the opening pages of their stories and novels by breaking down key passages to discover the way a narrative’s seeds have been planted in the work of authors such as Knut Hamsun, Carmen Maria Machado, Robert Musil, and ZZ Packer. Similarly, we’ll pay close attention to how novels and stories end, how they mirror or echo their openings to create resonance, and how they employ sensory description or a final revelation to provide a sense of closure. We will also experiment with writing a series of beginnings and develop one into a brief short story, which we will workshop together as a group.


Social and Environmental Justice
Performing Power and Local Government
Taught by Aaron Landsman
6:00-8:00 pm | September 20, 23, 27, 30 and October 4, 7, 14
Register by September 6 at 5:00 pm ET

Through this course, students attend local government meetings, speak with elected officials, activists and other players in cities, research the histories and philosophies of democracy, and create a short performance (live or online) using transcripts from the meetings we see. The class uses principles of theater to help you see yourselves in positions and spaces of real political power - spaces to which you may not have ready access. It includes readings from Plato to contemporary philosophers, from influential sociologist Erving Goffman to modern-day theater artists and activists. Ideal for students who want to investigate how power works, how it says it works, and how it might change. This course in particular will appeal to students who are interested in politics, theater and the ways they shape each other.


Literature and Writing 
Fiction: Reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Taught by Manuel Gonzales
Tuesdays, 6:00-8:00 pm EST | October 13, 20, 27, and November 3
Register by September 29 at 5:00 pm ET

Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude is a seminal, pivotal, magical, enduring work of tragicomedy and beauty, and we're going to do what we can to take it apart, look under the hood, kick the tires, and test drive the work to see what makes it so special, what makes it function as well as it does, and why it has affected readers emotionally and intellectually since its publication. Students in the course should begin reading the novel prior to the first session of class so we can hit the ground running. Over the four classes, we'll also explore the history of magical realism, the political context in which Marquez was writing, and the influences Marquez was drawing from and the influence his work had on subsequent writers.


Literature and Writing 
Nonfiction: Serious Noticing: How to Turn What We See into What We Write
Taught by Marie Mockett
Tuesdays, 6:00-8:00 pm EST | November 9, 16, 30, and December 7, 2021 (skipping Thanksgiving Week)
Register by October 26 at 5:00 pm ET

"What do writers do when they seriously notice the world?" the critic James Wood asks. Perhaps, he suggests, they do no less than "rescue the life of things from their death." In this class, we will investigate what it means to seriously notice the world, and try to learn how to notice it better. We will ask: when we are looking at a person, place or thing, what are we even seeing in the first place? The heart of nonfiction involves the translation of our personal vision into a story rooted in fact. The depth of our writing depends on many things, including a facility with language and metaphor; but it also depends on how deeply we can see into the world around us, and perceive layers.  We will look at essays which examine the nature of seeing, and study how other writers use their personal lens to keenly examine a range of issues. The ability to see well--to pay attention--can be brought to bear on writing involving travel, race, gender, religion, class, pain and joy. We will challenge ourselves to get rid of received opinions and the pre-existing tropes we have been taught as part of an effort to liberate our imaginations and voices, so we can produce the most original and accurate writing possible.