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Advanced Non-Fiction Writing

ENGL 145.302
instructor(s):
T 2-5

Even in the Internet era, all kinds of writers are telling powerful true-life stories - and this course will help student writers develop the craftsmanship and narrative techniques that can make their pieces come alive. The aim is to help students 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 classmates over the span of the semester.

Students will read some famous non-fiction writers - among them, Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, Michael Herr, Truman Capote and Richard Ben Cramer - along with storytellers from the New York Times and even the instructor himself (a national correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer). These writers are examined in order to inspire, not intimidate. Even the best writers have fragile egos; bring yours to class, and engage in freewheeling discussions, led by an instructor who gives practical tips.

Students will attempt non-fiction pieces of their choosing (with approval from the instructor), from personal memoirs to features about Philadelphia and campus people, scenes, and events. The topics are less important than the technique; anything can be a great read if it's written well. Learn the ways to how to hold a reader's interest. Interested students should submit one or two writing samples and briefly explain their interest in the course. Since the instructor is not on campus this fall, please give the samples to department staffers Loretta Williams or Ann Marie Pitts, who will pass them along.