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Advanced Writing Projects in Long-Form Nonfiction

ENGL 169.301
Tuesday 1:30-4:30pm

An advanced course in long-form nonfiction journalistic writing for a select group of experienced and self-starting student writers. (Ideally, each accepted member will have already taken one or two nonfiction seminars within the creative writing program.) The goal will be to tailor a reporting and writing project to your interest, one you may have long wished to take up but never had the opportunity. It could be a project in the arts. It could be a profile of a person or place. It might be documentary in nature, which is to say an extremely close-up observation of your subject. (An example: think of a hospital chaplain at Penn, going on his dreary, redemptive, daily rounds, to visit the sick and anoint the dying. What if you were there, for most of the term, as unobtrusively as possible, at his black-clad elbow?) The group will meet at to-be-determined intervals. In between, the enrollees will be pairing off and in effect serving as each other’s editor and coach and fellow (sister) struggler. When we do assemble as a group, we will be reading to each other as well as discussing the works of some long-form heroes—Didion, Talese, Richard Ben Cramer, one or two others you may not have heard of. In essence, this is a kind of master course, limited in enrollment, and devoted to your piece of writing, to be handed in on the final day. It will be in the range of 25 to 30 pages, something above 8,000 words. The course presumes a lot of individual initiative and self-reliance. If you’re interested, please email and suggest your qualifications. Permission to enroll is required.

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