English | Writing Creative Nonfiction
W615 | TBA | AL Miller

Writing Creative NonFiction

2:30p  5:30p T



Creative nonfiction is the label Adu jour@ for a loosely defined and
highly inventive genre that has a long tradition extending  back to
the earliest of writings: meditations, contemplations, confessions,
letters,  autobiographical anecdotes, philosophical musings,
observations on nature and science, etc., memoirs, travelogues,
polemics, diatribes, etc.  It=s a wonderful, flexible form that has
no real limits and which offers an opportunity for you to render
your own experience.  While this is primarily a workshop-seminar  in
which you will write and present your own work for discussion and
critique  by class members and instructor, please do expect to
engage meaningfully with outside readings as well, which will help
to flesh out both the historical and cultural  traditions of this
form (sometimes also referred to as Aessay@ or Apersonal essay@), as
well as  the contemporary possibilities. We might first read a
little Plutarch, Seneca, Montaigne, Lamb, Sei Shonagon, etc., just
to set the stage, but we will focus mostly on a range of
contemporary writers who work in this amazing form, and who
represent a brought range of themes, subjects, aesthetics, styles,
and world views.  Expect to be startled and surprised!

Pre-requisites: There are no official pre-req=s, and writers from
outside our MFA program  are warmly welcomed.  I would strongly
suggest, however, that anyone signing up understand this is a
graduate level course, and so is not aimed at Abeginners.@ It=s
expected that enrollees have already done a fair amount of writing
(poetry, fiction, journalism, etc.), and are both familiar with and
comfortable in contributing to  the writing workshop format in which
constructive criticism is given and received.  Each student will
also receive significant feedback from the instructor, both in
workshop discussions and in writing.

Assignments: In addition to readings and discussions, students
should also expect to do a good deal of new writing (probably the
equivalent of two longer essays and several shorter  ones),
including thoughtful,  written critiques for peer reviews. The
course meets only once a week, so weekly attendance is hugely
important. Enthusiastic and thoughtful  participation in seminar
discussions of all the writings and readings will be expected.
There may also be a short critical assignment or project along the
lines of a presentation or book review.  Grades will be based on
both the quality and quantity of work turned in, as well as
participation and preparation.

Students in the MFA program do not need to contact me before
enrolling. Those who are not in the MFA program should contact me by
email before enrolling at almiller@indiana.edu.  In your email,
please tell me a little about yourself and your writing interests
and background.  I can then advise you as to the appropriateness of
this course for you to ensure you have a great experience.