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Research for Writers

ENGL 415.641
instructor(s):

Writers are nosy. We want to know what happened, and then we want to know why, and how, and where, and what it smelled like. Good writing demands details. Finding these details… well, that can be the fun part. Research for writers involves poking through archives, asking people for stories, and looking at alternate interpretations of historical events. It involves answering all kinds of questions for ourselves and our readers: If W.E.B DuBois were a character in a short story, what would he wear? On Juneteenth, what was the weather like in Beaumont? Can a sonnet be biographical, and if so are the facts correct? In this class, you will learn the research methods employed by scholars, journalists, and super-sleuths. The class is intended for poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers, though journalists and documentary filmmakers may apply. We will read writers like Zora Neale Hurston, Marilyn Nelson, and Colson Whitehead to examine how writers use research in their work; we will talk to oral historians, archivists, and museum curators about how to mine the past for ideas. Be prepared to choose a topic early in the semester and research it thoroughly. Your final project, a creative piece in your choice of genre, will be informed by your discoveries.