English | Writing Creative Nonfiction
W311 | 2139 | Woodcock
2:30p-3:45p TR (15) 3 cr.
ABOVE SECTION REQUIRES THE PERMISSION OF THE INSTRUCTOR.
TOPIC: WRITING ABOUT REAL LIVES
This workshop is devoted to the wide field of writings that are
nonfictional and yet creative in that the particular intelligence
and sensibility of the writer is an important part of the project.
The field includes among its possibilities both autobiography and
biography, personal essays, and certain kinds of cultural commentary
and documentary projects. The goals of the workshop are to expand
its members' appreciation of creative nonfiction, to bring them
closer to their potential as writers, and to give them practice in
constructive criticism within one model of a writing community.
“Nonfiction” is a curiously unevocative word, but this course will
be anything but that. W311 provides a constructive framework within
which students learn to write about the most interesting events,
people, and ideas in their lives in ways they find satisfying. To
facilitate that, I work to establish a community of writers that is
both tolerant of diversity and strongly dedicated to learning.
Graduates of this course often say it has completely changed their
view of writing and of themselves as writers.
This is a workshop, so everyone will write frequently and read and
comment on the works of classmates. During the semester the
instructor will introduce the genres of autobiography and the
personal essay, and perhaps another genre, guided by the interests
of class members. Students are free to work on a project or
projects of their choice. Workshop members are expected to hand in
45-50 pages of finished work--typically three pieces of new work, a
thorough revision of one of them, and a handful of short exercises.
There are no exams. Grades are based on the quality and quantity of
work submitted and on contribution to the discussion of classmates'
work. Timely submission of work is essential.
Reading for the course will be partly on a tutorial basis, in order
to facilitate individual development. However, we will all read and
discuss Anne Lamott’s book on writing, bird by bird, and selections
from a nonfiction anthology.
Admission is by consent of the instructor upon submission of a
writing sample. To apply, put two pieces (10-20 pages) of your
writing closest to creative nonfiction in my departmental mailbox in
BH442, along with a short note about your experience as a writer and
your hopes for this course. Include your phone number, e-mail and
mailing addresses, and add a self-addressed envelope if you want the
sample back. I will review submissions weekly and post the results
on my door (BH428). After you have been approved, contact the
Creative Writing Secretary for an on-line authorization. You must
have this authorization before registering. I would be glad to
discuss the course with prospective students. If you have
questions, please contact me by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).