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Experimental Nonfiction

ENGL 135.302
Thursday 1:30–4:30

This class will be a creative writing workshop with an emphasis on what is generally called “nonfiction,” but with a bigger emphasis on writing that doesn’t quite fit into any particular genre, yet is still hell-bent on gettings its fangs into the verifiable “reality” of lived experience (as opposed to just plain-old made up fiction). But whereas the tenets of Realism have long been thought too restricting and outdated in fiction—as well as in the visual arts, poetry, film, theater, and serious music—most narrative nonfiction still fears straying too far from the stale and safe “journalistic” techniques for how one “should” recreate and document actual reality-based experience. In this class, experimental does not mean throwing out everything we know about good writing just to be different and arbitrarily outré—quite the opposite. In here, we will turn up the Bunsen burner, scorch off a century of crusty thought, and cook up our own new theories for what it means to compose radical contemporary nonfiction.

Since the course will take the form of a seminar, consistent class participation is essential. In class we will work on close reading and writing assignments and we will review and discuss each other’s work. You will be graded on class participation, attendance, the completion of weekly assignments, and a midterm and final writing assignment.