Exploring Formal Literacy Techniques in Creative Writing

A literary text is always constrained by something: rhythm, rhyme, grammar, syntax, style, or language itself. Writers of the past explored numerous literary restrictions that can open the way to the fountain of further creative writing. When authors use restrictions thoughtfully, they can free their creativity and avoid stereotyped paths in writing. Students will become acquainted and practice writing embracing literary constraints: tautograms, lipograms, abecedaries; graphic poems; spiral poems; and some forms based on mathematics.


  • Queneau, Raymond, Italo Calvino, et al. Oulipo Laboratory. London: Atlas, 1995.


  • A brief introduction to the history and examples of literary restrictions.
  • Practicing in alphabetic restrictions – tautogram, lipogram, abecedaries.
  • A short introduction and practicing of graphic poetry: spirals.
  • Literary-mathematics games.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Know formal restrictions as used in European literature.
  2. Experience writing under various formal restrictions.
  3. Search for new formal restrictions that can inspire your creativity.

This course has no current classes. Please join the waiting list by clicking .