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Creative Nonfiction Writing

ENGL 135.301
instructor(s):
Tuesdays 1:30-4:30 pm
fulfills requirements:
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

Maybe the best we can do is leave ourselves unprotected…” the poet-novelist Forrest Gander has written. “To approach each other and the world with as much vulnerability as we can possibly sustain.” In this creative nonfiction workshop, we will be thinking about what it means to tell our personal stories, and how that telling gets done. We’ll be reading writers contemplating the act of writing—Joan Didion, Natalia Ginzburg, Vivian Gornick, Terrence des Pres, Annie Dillard, Patricia Hampl. We’ll be reading writers writing their own lives—Michael Ondaatje, Lucy Grealy, Buzz Bissinger, Dorothy Allison, Rick Bragg, Caroline Knapp, Jean-Dominique Bauby—as well as writers reflecting on the lives of others. The point will be to get close to the bone of things. Students should be prepared to read, to reflect, to take photographs, to find stories inside music, and to write two key papers—a memoir and a narrative profile—as well as a number of small papers and in-class assignments.