Nonfiction, as author Joe McGinniss discovered to his dismay last year, actually exists as a distinct literary category. But like a wildlife park, nonfiction contains many species. The instructor, who is the literary critic of The Philadelphia
Inquirer and critic-at-large of Lingua Franca magazine, expects student writers to slip off the tour bus and into the fields, engage in mild petting, and get so familiar with the beasties that you'll develop lifelong affection.
Short writing assignments in the first half of the term exercise literary muscles in such forms as the book review,
feature article, op-ed piece and profile. Short readings pinpoint issues crucial to writers of nonfiction. In the second
half of the term, students write and rewrite -- with editorial supervision from the instructor and workshop commentary from classmates -- a publishable, critical or intellectual essay.
In addition to intense focus on the mechanics and aesthetics of smart, stylish prose, the class discusses many practical
aspects of writing as a fulltime career: how to break into specific publications; the difference between academic and
nonacademic prose; the unspoken rules of freelance writing, the emotional challenges of being edited, and more.
Prerequisite: A desire to answer "I'm a writer" when someone asks "What do you do?"
Note: Students wishing to concentrate, within the English major, in Creative Writing, should contact Greg Djanikian (djanikia@english).