English | Writing Creative Nonfiction
W311 | 2023 | Miller
2023 4:30p-6:30p R (15) 3 cr.
REQUIRES PERMISSION OF INSTRUCTOR. OBTAIN AUTHORIZATION FROM BH442.
ďAn essay is not an article, not a meditation, not a book review, not
a memoir, not a disquisition, not a diatribe, not a shaggy dog story,
not a monologue, not a travel narrative, not a suite of aphorisms,
not an elegy, not a piece of reportage, not a ---------
No, an essay can be any or several of the above. . . . (the
essay) . . . .is just one name, the sonorous name, bestowed on a wide
range of writings. ----Susan Sontag
This is an intermediate nonfiction writing workshop, open to all
interested applicants who have successfully completed either W103,
W203 (fiction or poetry), W301/303, or the equivalent, with at least
a B, and have a sincere interest in writing creative nonfiction. All
applicants must also be willing to commit to a regular writing
schedule throughout the semester.
To apply, please place the following information in a manila
envelope in my mailbox (Professor Alyce Miller), BH 442:
1. Fifteen to twenty pages (no more) of what you consider your best
or most interesting writing (for poets, your sample must include some
prose, either fiction or nonfiction, preferably a piece of length).
2. A brief letter telling me a little about yourself. Tell me who
your AI was, what grade you received, and a little about your reasons
for wanting to take a class in creative nonfiction.
3. A current email address, and your name and local address on the
manila envelope. Please write the words Application to W311 on the
envelope. I admit and notify students as they apply, so encourage
you to get your applications in as early as possible to increase your
chances. This class fills quickly, and I will not over-enroll it.
What to expect:
1. Regular class attendance and enthusiastic participation are di
2. We will read and discuss a wide range of contemporary essays, and
explore not only issues of content, aesthetics, style, writerly
vision, voice, and form, but technique and craft, as well. We may
use for our course reader something along the lines of Phillip
Lopateís anthology The Art of the Personal Essay, along with
individual, hot-off-the-press essays. Or there may be a reading
packet made up of some of my favorite nonfiction pieces. Itís
helpful in advance of the class to read essays of your own choosing,
to familiarize yourselves with the possibilities of the form. While
memoir is all the rage now, it is only one form of the personal
essay. Take a look at Best American Essays and browse essays in
literary magazines like Witness, Creative Nonfiction, The Prose Poem,
Kenyon Review, etc. (the library has a wonderful collection of
3. You will write and show in workshop approximately 35-40 pages of
new creative work (probably two to three pieces of length), revise
and complete at least one essay of length, write weekly, substantive
one-page critiques of peer work (about 30-40 pages), and contribute
actively and substantively in class. There will also be assigned
exercises to help you in your discoveries.
4. You will be graded according to the quality and quantity of work
submitted, active class participation, and preparation and regular
attendance. Instructor comments are always evaluative. You will also
be expected to adopt a regular writing schedule, and dedicate a
fair amount of time outside of class to your writing.
I will post a list of those admitted on my office door (BH 524), and
give a copy of the list to the creative writing secretary and
undergraduate secretary in BH 442. As soon as you are admitted, see
one of the secretaries for an on-line authorization to register. You
must have an authorization prior to registering for the course.