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Advanced Non-Fiction Writing

ENGL 145.301
instructor(s):
M 2-5:00

Do you feel you have a fresh perspective on lifes goings-on? Did you look at a building today and wonder what�s going on inside? Is there an event, a person, an idea that you think has been misunderstood, misinterpreted, under-appreciated?

If so, come and investigate with me. We will spend the semester doing our best to write out of that paper bag that is made up of our curiosity, our observations and our prejudices. The best creative non-fiction explains, but it also makes us run to learn more about the subject.

I've been lucky enough to spend a career writing such stuff and look forward to finding out different ways of doing so from you. We will be reading some of the best magazine and newspaper writing of the last century � and hopefully be writing some of it as well. We will talk about essays, arts reviews, general features and even sportswriting.

Students will be required to write at least two pieces of magazine length (2000 words or more) and several shorter pieces. The longer pieces will be presented to the class for workshop criticism. While there is a text ("The Art of Fact," edited by Kevin Kerrane and Ben Yagoda), we will also read current newspapers and magazines and discuss contemporary styles in non-fiction writing. Guest lecturers will share their views on the non-fiction world, and since I am a practicing journalist, you will be subjected to reading my pieces as well � and I intend to be subjected to your criticism.

Those who choose to take this course should read the Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine that will appear the day before the first class so we have a basis for discussion that day. Come in with ideas on how you might have written the stories differently.

One schedule change: The second week�s class will meet on Wednesday, Sept. 22, time and place to be determined, since Monday, Sept. 20 is Yom Kippur.