Improving Humor and Tone in Writing – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Improving Humor and Tone in Writing

Graduate students from the University of Iowa, the top ranked creative writing MFA program in the country, lead a workshop on writing with "humor" and "tone" in the Fisher Center.

This October, 30 HWS students attended creative writing workshops taught by graduate students from the MFA program at the University of Iowa. Hosted in the Blackwell Room and sponsored by the Trias Residency for Writers, the event gave students the opportunity to improve their mastery of “humor” and “tone” through seminars and writing workshops.

“It can be valuable for students to interact with graduate students who are at the beginning of their career; they have a new perspective,” says Associate Professor of English Literature and Director of the Trias Residency for Writers Kathryn Cowles.

Graduate students Dan Cronin and Julie Kedzie taught a course titled “Toning It Up,” focused on identifying and utilizing tone and Tiffany Tucker and Brittany Means taught “Everybody’s Got Jokes,” which discussed incorporating humor. “One-day masterclasses allow students who don’t have the time or opportunity to take a semester-long class to learn or try something new,” Cronin says. He also emphasized the importance of working with other writers to practice and develop writing as a craft.

“I tried things that I wouldn’t during a normal class, and I’ve started to put what I learned to use in my own writing,” says Jillian Arnone ’21, who attended “Toning it Up.”

The University of Iowa has one of the most prestigious creative writing graduate programs in the country. HWS alum and former Trias Writer-in-Residence John D’Agata ’95, author of The Lifespan of a Fact, is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and is a professor of English and director of its nonfiction writing program. Currently, an adaptation of The Lifetime of a Fact is running on Broadway starring Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones and Bobby Cannavale.

The Trias Residency for Writers is supported by The Peter Trias Endowed Fund for Poetry and Creative Writing. This fund was established through a bequest from Peter J. Trias ’70.