English | Writing Creative Nonfiction
W615 | 25263 | Sanders
W615 25263 SANDERS
Writing Creative Nonfiction
7:00p – 10:00p M
AUTHORIZATION OF INSTRUCTOR REQUIRED.
This is a workshop in writing personal essays, personal forms of
documentary or reportage, and memoir. The writing might deal with
travels, nature, or science, with falling in or out of love, with
growing up or growing old, with any subject under the sun or beyond
the sun; but, whatever the subject, you must be willing to draw
primarily on your own experience, reflection, and observation—as
well as research, when appropriate—and to make your discoveries
accessible to strangers. Therefore the workshop will not address
such worthy but impersonal modes as scholarship and conventional
journalism, nor such private modes as the diary, nor the freely
invented modes of fiction.
We will spend the first third of the semester reading and talking
about published works of nonfiction, and writing brief exercises in
light of that reading. (For possible authors, see the next
paragraph.) We will spend the rest of the semester discussing
manuscripts produced by members of the workshop. You will be
expected to write, in addition to the exercises, roughly 40 pages of
finished work. You will be expected to read with care the
manuscripts handed in by others, and to write for each manuscript a
one-page critique, a copy of which will be turned in to me. The
schedule allows for each person to submit new work for discussion
twice and revised work for discussion once. And you will be
expected to give a brief oral report on a book-length work of
nonfiction of your own choosing.
To suggest my taste, I list a few of the writers whose nonfiction I
have found engaging: Ed Abbey, James Baldwin, Wendell Berry,
Bernard Cooper, Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, Gretel Ehrlich, Loren
Eiseley, Nadine Gordimer, Patricia Hampl, Jim Harrison, Edward
Hoagland, Barbara Kingsolver, Maxine Hong Kingston, D. H. Lawrence,
Primo Levi, Barry Lopez, Peter Matthiessen, Bill McKibben, John
McPhee, N. Scott Momaday, Kathleen Dean Moore, V. S. Naipaul,
Kathleen Norris, George Orwell, Chet Raymo, Richard Rodriguez,
Leslie Marmon Silko, Wallace Stegner, Henry David Thoreau, Terry
Tempest Williams, Virginia Woolf, and Ann Zwinger.
The course is open to students in the Ph.D. as well as the MFA
program, and to qualified writers from outside the English
Department. I do not expect members of the workshop to have any
considerable experience of writing personal nonfiction, but I do
expect you to be able to write good prose.
By permission of the instructor: Send me a message by email
(firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave a note in my mailbox (Ballantine
Hall 442) briefly describing your reasons for wishing to take the
course, and anything about your background that seems pertinent.
Please include your telephone number and email address. I will
respond as soon as possible, to let you know whether you have been
admitted to the workshop.