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Introduction to Genres: Writing the Visual Arts

Writers have long been fascinated, inspired, and puzzled by the visual arts. In this course, we will study two genres of writing—poetry and the creative essay—that have enjoyed long and productive relationships with painting, photography, and sculpture. What attracts writers to art? How might language render (or fail to render) visual experience? How might writing help us see art in new ways? How might art objects inspire new ways of writing? With these questions in mind, we will read poems, essays, and art criticism by a variety of writers, visit several of Chicago’s excellent museums, and conduct regular writing experiments in both poetry and prose. By the end of the course, you will develop a portfolio of your own writing about art. Authors and artists considered may include William Carlos Williams, Roland Barthes, John Berger, James Schuyler, Barbara Guest, Frank O’Hara, Charles Simic, Martha Ronk, Kevin Young, Pieter Breughel, Joseph Cornell, Cy Twombly, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and others. Museums visited may include the Art Institute, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Smart Museum of Art, and the Renaissance Society. 

Course Code

ARTV 20500


CRWR 12121




High School Students
UChicago Undergraduates
Visiting Undergraduates


Visual Arts
Creative Writing

Class Day(s)

Mon Wed Fri

Class Start Time


Class End Time


Primary Instructor

Patrick Morrissey


Session I

Start Date

End Date


  • Eligibility: current high school sophomores and juniors, 14 years and older (unless clearly stated otherwise); current College undergraduate students; and visiting undergraduate students.
  • The Priority application deadline is February 2. Students who apply by the Priority application deadline will have their $50 application fee waived. Any applications received after the Priority deadline will be admitted using rolling admission and will require a $50 application fee. 
  • International students who will require a visa to attend, applications will be considered no later than April 2 in order to allow enough time to complete the visa application process.
  • Rolling admissions: courses fill quickly, so submit your complete application as soon as possible.

Additional Details

  • This course meets the Gen Ed requirement for Fine Arts.
  • Orientation for high school students is June 16-17.

Cost & Aid

Tuition is $4,085 per course. (Full-time registration is two courses taken during the same session.)
Additional fees apply; housing and dining costs not included.

Complete Cost & Aid Information (including housing and other fees) for high school students can be found here.
Complete Cost & Aid Information (including housing and other fees) for undergraduates can be found here.