W311 24754 WRITING CREATIVE NONFICTION
Alyce Miller

7:15p-8:30p TR (15 students) 3 cr. PREREQUISITE: W103 or W203 (or equivalent). Section requires permission of instructor.

“An 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 creative 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. You must also be comfortable reading your work aloud in class, and giving and receiving substantive and constructive criticism.

To apply, please place the following information in hard copy in a manila envelope in my mailbox in BH 442, addressed to Professor Alyce Miller:

1. 15-20 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—there is a long tradition of the “poet as essayist”).

2. A brief letter telling me a little about yourself. Tell me who your creative writing instructor 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.

The names of admitted students will be given to the Creative Writing Program Secretary in BH 442. As soon as you are admitted, obtain an on-line authorization to register from the secretary. You must have an authorization in order to register.

What to expect:

1. Class format: a workshop/seminar – about half the time will be spent discussing student work, and the other half discussing the assigned readings by excellent practitioners Aof the art.@ The size of the class will determine the exact kinds of writing assignments given.

2. Readings: Phillip Lopate's anthology The Art of the Personal Essay, and an e-reserve packet of essays, culled from all over. You will read numerous and eclectic examples of creative nonfiction, with a focus on the personal essay, from writers like Montaigne, Lamb, Seneca, and Kenko, Orwell, Baldwin, Sontag, Didion, Gerald Early, Edward Hoagland, Bernard Cooper, Cheryl Strayed, bell hooks, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Kim Wozencraft, Floyd Skloot, Amy Tan, Joy Williams, Fred D'Aguiar, etc. You are encouraged in advance of the class to read some essays of your own choosing, to familiarize yourselves with the possibilities of the form, and to come to the first class with your own working definition of what you believe creative nonfiction to be. 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 Fourth Genre, Witness, Creative Nonfiction, The Prose Poem, etc. (the library has a wonderful collection of literary magazines).

3. You will write and show in workshop approximately 35-40 pages of new creative work, 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 to class discussions. There may also be assigned exercises to help you in your discoveries.

4. You will be graded according to the quality and quantity of both creative and critical work submitted, active class participation, preparation and regular attendance, and an exam over the readings. While individual writings are never graded, instructor comments are always evaluative.

PLEASE NOTE: There will be an assignment due the very first day of class. Both this assignment and the class syllabus will be posted on OnCourse on the web. Please be sure to check there.