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Creative Non-Fiction Writing

ENGL 135.302
F 2-5

What is Creative Non-Fiction? Hard to say because. the essay, one of the dominant literary forms of our culture, seems to elude definition. Usually we define it in terms of what it isn't. It isn't "fiction." At least, probably not. (We will tinker with this conundrum throughout the semester.) Most of all, Creative Non-Fiction is creative. A given idea might surface through allegory, irony, straightforward reportage, dense analysis, or some combination of the above, but its effect will vary with the writer's skill, inventiveness, and taste.

In this course you will be challenged, through directed reading and writing assignments, to experiment with multiple approaches to similar themes. We will also address important technical issues in prose-writing, such as narrative and thematic tension, manipulation of transitions, and point-of-view. My goal in the course is for you to condider your themes from many angles, to make many attempts -- for "attempt" is, after all, the literal meaning behind the label "essay" (_essai_.)

Each week you will read one or more essay models on which you will base that week's writing. You will write every week and are encouraged to revisit the same themes with different techniques.

This class is writing workshop in which your verbal participation is as important as your writing. You will be asked to xerox your own work for class critique and to give thoughtful, constructive feedback on the work of your fellow student writers.

Any questions? Email me at

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