Creative Writing and Literature courses at Friday Harbor

Autumn Quarter 2012 (Undergraduate Program)

*For information about the ENGL 581 Graduate Seminar in Friday Harbor, click here.

Study in the San Juans this Fall!

Friday Harbor isn't just for science majors and poetry isn't just for creative writing majors in this new, quarter-long program in collaboration with the Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL), the College on the Environment, and the Department of English. After teaching four successful sessions of the two-week poetry seminar (since 2008) Professor Richard Kenney will be teaching Creative Writing and Literature courses as a part of the Marine Biology Quarter at Friday Harbor during Autumn Quarter 2012.

This Fall, live by the sea and enroll in courses that explore the beautiful and varied marine environment at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor campus. Read, write, and explore the sea and the seashore through literature, creative writing, marine biology, and fisheries courses (12-17 credits) that take full advantage of the San Juan Island setting. What better place to read Herman Melville’s famous masterpiece and other works of sea-faring literature, or to take a marine biology course where you can actually interact with the marine life you are studying? Writers, artists, scientists, and researchers have long been drawn to the sea – come and experience it for yourself while earning UW credit!

The English courses, Reading the Marine Environment (ENGL 365 or CHID 498, 5cr), Writing the Marine Environment (ENGL 283/383/483 or CHID 498, 5 cr), and an optional Creative Writing Lab/Workshop (ENGL 493, 2 cr) will be taught by Professor Richard Kenney in the Department of English. Students who are interested in taking science courses or who need Natural World (NW) credit may also wish to register for Introduction to Marine Biology, (FISH/BIOL/OCEAN 250, 5cr), which has no required pre-requisites and will be taught by Dr. Emily Carrington from the Department of Biology; or Ichthyology, (FISH 311, 5cr) taught by Dr. Adam Summers from the Department of Fisheries.


Location: UW Friday Harbor Laboratories on San Juan Island

Courses and credits: 12-17 Credits in ENGL, BIOL, and FISH courses

Applications: rolling admission until July 1, 2012 (Early review deadline: May 15, 2012)

Cost: $7400 (resident undergraduates, estimated). Includes tuition, room, and board

Contact information and Faculty

Friday Harbor Photos
This photo of Friday Harbor is courtesy of TripAdvisor


Friday Harbor Photos
This photo of Friday Harbor is courtesy of TripAdvisor

THE FRIDAY HARBOR LABORATORIES (FHL) is the UW’s world renowned marine science research facility located on a 484-acre biological preserve on pristine San Juan Island, 75 miles northwest of Seattle, part of an archipelago that lies between the mainland and Vancouver Island. The islands of the San Juan Archipelago are generally rocky, forested, and rimmed by precipitous shores. Some are deeply cut by fjord-like inlets. The islands were strongly glaciated and have valleys with lakes, swamps, and bogs. The varied terrestrial and freshwater habitats offer a diverse flora and fauna.

Students live on-site in the FHL dorms for the whole quarter.

Suggested courses for English majors and other Humanities students:

English courses:

Reading the Marine Environment (5 credits: ENGL 365 or CHID 498)

Professor Richard Kenney

This is a nautically-minded literature course intended for readers from all disciplinary backgrounds.

What book is an unparalleled extravagance of literary ambition and style, a firsthand observatory of sea and life at sea, a serious natural history of cetacean mammals, an apparently bottomless mirror for American philosophical self-reflection, at once a mythic quest and a white-knuckle adventure story? Or: what book would you bring, if you happened to be an island-bound castaway? You will be one, so buy Moby Dick. Together we’ll attempt to harpoon the Great Book, read for delight, and hope for wisdom in its wake. Beside the White Whale, we’ll collect and examine many other specimens from the literatures of the sea, and assemble a bibliography, an anthology for our pleasure, and a permanent bookshelf for the FHL library.

Note: "W" credit is available for ENGL 365 by request. Interested students should speak with Professor Kenney on the first class day.

Writing the Marine Environment (5 credits: English 283/383/483 or CHID 498)

Professor Richard Kenney

This is a creative writing course inspired by writers, artists, scientists and naturalists who have taken the sea for their subject. All comers are welcome. No experience in creative writing is presumed; a wide range of experience is anticipated.

How do you get from sea to seascape? Consider paint, verse, field note, and mathematics: do marine representations in each of these modes have anything in common? What are their various intents and purposes, their respective ways and means? Specifically, how does nerve by language nudge the world and come away with an impression? Our conversation will draw courage from large questions like these and others we may wish to bring to the table; meanwhile, our principal considerations will be practical, taken from the writer’s rather than the critic’s or philosopher’s standpoint. We’ll posit a general taxonomy of the arts of prose and poetry, and test its elements at the point of a pencil. We’ll adapt our methods from field science, whose acolytes comb beaches and other niches, and also from studio art, whose apprentices set up their easels in museums, copying type specimens. Our specimens will be extracted from the literatures of the sea. Our practice will favor outward-tending gesture over inward-gazing self-expression and polish. Writing will be constant and joyful.

Creative Writing Lab (2 credits: English 493)

Professor Richard Kenney

For those students enrolled in the Writing class who wish to experience a workshop-style creative writing circumstance, in the interest of bringing greater critical pressure to bear on their own work than the parent class may permit, and developing their own conversational critical faculties in a communal setting.

Natural Science Courses:

Marine Biology (5 credits: BIOL 250/OCEAN 250/FISH 250)

Dr. Emily Carrington

This 5-credit lecture/laboratory course focuses on the incredible diversity of organisms inhabiting the marine environment. During the quarter we will take a broad tour through the plants and animals of the marine realm (plankton, seaweeds, invertebrates, fish, birds, and mammals), exploring how these organisms have adapted to life under water. Numerous field and laboratory exercises will expose students to common marine biological techniques and to the diverse marine communities common to Washington’s San Juan Islands. (Note: this course fulfills a core requirement of the Marine Biology minor for University of Washington students.) Recommendation: at least one quarter of introductory biology (more is preferable). Enrollment limited to 30 students. For additional information contact: Dr. Emily Carrington.

Ichthyology (5 credits, Fish 311)

Dr. Adam Summers

Fish 311 is an introductory course designed to provide an overview of the wonderful world of fishes, their kinds and ways. We’ll discuss and conduct a hands-on examination of the biology and diversity of living fishes of the world—from ancient bottom-living hagfishes and lampreys to modern-day sharks, rays, and bony fishes; from the freshwaters of Amazonia and to mangrove swamps and coral reefs; and from shallow-water lakes and streams to the deepest parts of the world's oceans. For additional information contact: Dr. Adam Summers


How to apply: Students should apply online, via the Friday Harbor Laboratories website.

Application Deadline: rolling admission until July 1, 2012. The July 1 deadline has been extended for as long as space is available.

Required Documents:

The Director of Friday Harbor Laboratories has final authority in accepting persons for the FHL instructional program. Humanities students enrolling in the Marine Biology Quarter are not required to submit letters of recommendation or a personal statement. Only the web application form and transcripts are required.

Friday Harbor Photos
This photo of Friday Harbor is courtesy of TripAdvisor


The costs for a quarter at Friday Harbor are similar to the costs for a quarter on the Seattle campus. Resident and Non-Resident tuition rates apply.

Resident, Matriculated UW Undergraduates:

$4139 estimated total tuition for 15-17 credits, plus lab fees ($75 - $225), plus room and board ($3040 estimated) for an estimated net amount of: $7254 - $7404 for the entire quarter.

Non-Resident Matriculated UW Undergraduates:

$11,132 estimated total tuition for 15-17 credits, plus lab fees (same as above) and room and board (same as above) for an estimated net amount of: $14,247 - $14,397 for the entire quarter.

Non-Matriculated Students are also eligible to enroll in Friday Harbor courses. Please visit the FHL website for details.

For more information about Friday Harbor costs and room and board information, please visit this page on the Friday Harbor Laboratories website.

Contact Information and Program Faculty:


Marine Biology Quarter and Friday Harbor Laboratories Student Services contacts:

Emily Beyer, Marine Biology Minor Advisor, Biology/Oceanography/SAFS; 206-543-7426; email

Stacy Markman, Friday Harbor Laboratories Student Coordinator; 206-616-0753; email

Department of English Contact:

Bridget Norquist, Academic Adviser and Study Abroad Coordinator; 206-543-2634; email


Professor Richard Kenney is the author of four books of poetry: The Evolution of the Flightless Bird, Orrery, The Invention of the Zero, and The One Strand River. He teaches poetry and verse writing in the undergraduate and MFA programs at the University of Washington. He has taught the early Fall Friday Harbor Poetry Seminar since 2008, and has also been the director of the UW English Department Creative Writing in Rome Program for over ten years. email

Dr. Emily Carrington completed her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at Cornell University in 1985. She received her Ph.D. in 1992 from Stanford University, where she studied the biomechanics and ecophysiology of wave-swept organisms with Mark Denny. She was a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia, working with John Gosline on the biomechanics of mussel attachment. In 1996, she became an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Rhode Island and was promoted to the rank of associate professor in 2003. She moved west in 2005 to join the Department of Biology and the Friday Harbor Laboratories at the University of Washington. email

Dr. Adam Summers earned degrees in mathematics and engineering, at Swarthmore College, but was not interested in pursuing either as a career. While teaching SCUBA in Australia on the Great Barrier Reef he met his first professional biologists. He returned home to get a masters degree in Biology at New York University and the University of Massachusetts for a Ph.D. From the beginning of his research career he attempted to capitalize on previous training as an engineer to understand the evolution of the mechanical systems of animals. While researching the mechanics of salamander walking and the jaws of a particularly unusual group of limbless amphibians called caecilians at UC Berkeley, he was approached by Pixar Studios to help them with the movie Finding Nemo. He is now the Associate Director of UW Friday Harbor Laboratories. With students and collaborators he has published more than 70 articles in scientific journals on abstruse subjects including the heads of hammerhead sharks, the properties of skeletons and difficulties of eating hard prey. email

Friday Harbor Photos
This photo of Friday Harbor is courtesy of TripAdvisor

"ůSay, you are in the country; in some high land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries-stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever."

--Ishmael, Moby Dick, Herman Melville

Photos courtesy Kati Casto, 2009 participant Friday Harbor Poetry Seminar. Text and photos also courtesy of the Friday Harbor Laboratories website. Additional Photos courtesy

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