Baret Magarian

Baret Magarian
  • B.A., English Literature, University of London
  • Ph.D., English Literature, University of Durham

Biographical Information

Baret Magarian specializes in teaching creative writing and travel writing in Florence. He obtained his PhD from the University of Durham, which was on the indeterminacy of Shelley's poetry. He has published articles from his doctorate in The Keats-Shelley Review. He has also published book reviews, features and articles in all the British broadsheets and fiction in Panurge magazine. In Florence he lectures at American universities and occasionally gives guitar concerts. He recently participated in the Gonzaga in Florence conference ‘On the Imaginary' and gave a paper entitled, ‘Reconfiguring the World: the Alchemy of Fiction', which analysed novels by Kafka, Fowles and Murakami. He is currently working on a thriller set in Lisbon, Berlin, and Florence and has another novel with agents in London. He has co-written an original screenplay and directed theatre for the Edinburgh and London fringes.

Course Descriptions

Creative Writing (ENGL 250)
The course is intended to act as a springboard for the students' own creativity. Creativity is of course a notoriously vexed issue: where do its roots lie? Is it consistent or fleeting? Of all the arts writing is perhaps the one which is most slippery and challenging given that language is itself a construction, often a highly imperfect one. But within language's imperfections the writer is free to find his or her own stylistic universe. By exploring and studying literary texts and coming to grips with narrative techniques of fiction the course will delineate the tools of the creative writer. Writing is a craft and the aim will be to analyze techniques and pass them on to the student so that his or her work will gain in power, originality and accomplishment. There will also be an emphasis on reading work aloud and actively and constructively criticizing students' work. It should be stressed that this course will be challenging in many ways. In point of fact the student will often be required to look deep within his or her own self in order to fully utilize their creativity. This can be a uniquely enriching and profound experience. But above all to take a creative writing course is to embark on a journey into self and to probe into the secrets and techniques of great writing. It should also perhaps be stressed that the course is ultimately about the production of art, not entertainment.

The Writing Traveler(ENGL 303)
This is a course tailor-made for the student who comes to Italy and wishes to preserve something of his experiences here in journal form. Thus, whilst having its origins in the strictly personal it will ultimately outsoar this rather subjective frame by incorporating some of the elements of formal travel writing, memoir and the essay, attempting to give the student techniques with which to enrich, and structure, his work. This will be achieved, partly by studying classic travelogues and observational texts, as listed below, and partly by instruction and lecture from myself. I would also hope ideally to be able to forge a link between a personal, subjective experience and its evocation and a larger, more penetrating truth. Thus on some level the course would also seek to draw philosophical meaning out of the kind of social encounters and situations found whilst traveling.  This course will ultimately also develop into a workshop in which students can read and critique each other's work. The instruction will cover strategies for some elements of  creative writing and focus on the rich subjects and themes provided by our travels here. While this course requires a lot of writing, the writing will issue out of the experiences afforded by life in Italy and  the various GIF weekend and cultural trips, and much of the drafting will occur within journal pages during travel. The syllabus, including reading and writing assignments, will be adapted as necessary to circumstances that arise in Florence. 

Teaching Methodology
The lectures are multifaceted and draw heavily on the students' own experiences and contributions. Some space is devoted to the analysis of seminal texts and travelogues, with the employment of close reading. In turn various techniques are taught: the building of suspense, the resolution of storylines, the creation of atmosphere. Fiction is broken down into its component parts: narrative, plot, character, style, theme, and meaning. The classes employ workshops and students read aloud weekly assignments and critique each other constructively. Role play, games, imagination exercises, music and art are also used. The courses offer both academic and personal approaches to writing but above all stress the individual student's voice and the discovery of a unique way of seeing the world and channeling such perceptions into original prose creations.