Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Creative Non-Fiction Writing

ENGL 435.641
instructor(s):
R 6-8:40

Creative non-fiction is at least as old as Defoe, and as new as an unfinished memoir. Conventional definitions of the genre include memoir and autobiography, but the boundaries get pushed each time that a writer's idiosyncratic experience embraces, slams or dodges the external world. In this class, we will read from established essayists including Adrienne Rich, James Baldwin, Annie Dillard, Joan Didion, Alice Walker and Lewis Thomas and from a wide range of new writers. Writing assignments will include a few short exercises, a journal, and four longer pieces: a profile, a essay on place, and two of your choice. Classes will include both student-led discussion on the assigned writings and workshop sessions. While the writing assignments will be explicitly non-fiction prose, the disciplines and freedoms of writing such pieces can be of considerable benefit to poets and fiction writers. If you have questions, please feel free to write to the instructor: dburnham@english.upenn.edu