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Creative Non-Fiction Writing

ENGL 135.920

What is creative nonfiction? In our reading and writing, we’ll explore the fascinating and productive tension between the two poles: what we imagine, and what “really” happened. We’ll respect our memories and let our imaginations work in high gear as we learn ways to retrieve material, and shape it into surprising pieces of writing. We’ll read, and re-read, a small number of contemporary essays, mining them for ideas and useful structures. You’ll complete three significant pieces. One will be a profile of a person (a friend, an ex-friend, a relative, a coach, teacher, neighbor – someone who got under your skin and/or into your heart.) You’ll also do a “profile” of a place that you know well. This could be your workplace, your block, your gym, your studio– any place that has its own characters and obsessions. Finally, you’ll do a very personal essay, on a subject absolutely of your choice. Much of our work in class will be collaborative. We’ll look at big ideas and at short sentences, offering advice and asking questions. If you have questions, please feel free to email

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