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Advanced Non-Fiction Writing

ENGL 145.302
M 2-5


Come celebrate the printed word. Even in the Internet era, all kinds of writers are telling powerful true-life stories - and this course will help student writers recognize the creative elements and narrative techniques that make these pieces come alive. The aim is to inspire student writers to tap their own raw talents, gain fresh insights, and feel comfortable enough to share their assigned work - both short and long-form pieces - with others in the class over the span of the semester.

Even though students will read some terrific practitioners of non-fiction writing - among them, Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, Michael Herr, Truman Capote and Richard Ben Cramer - along with contemporary newspaper storytellers that include the instructor (a national correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer), these are intended to inspire, not to intimidate. All writers have fragile egos; bring yours to class, no embarrassment.

Students will write all kinds of non-fiction pieces, from personal memoirs to long-form features about Philadelphia people, and campus issues and events. The topics are less important than the craftsmanship; anything can be a great read if it's written well.

Most importantly, this course will offer practical advice, not theoretical abstractions, about how to write well in the real world, from an instuctor who remains a working full-time journalist. Several guest speakers, with similar credentials, will also stop by.

Interested students should submit several writings, along with a thoughtful message explaining their interest - and email these submissions to the instructor. If the materials can't be emailed, department staffers Loretta Williams and Ann Marie Pitts will send them via snail mail.