English and Film Studies

WRITE 297 A3: Introduction to Writing Nonfiction

C. Wiesenthal                                                                                           

WRITE 297 is a half-year, introductory class in writing literary nonfiction prose. One basic aim of the course is to provide students with exposure to, and an opportunity to experiment with, a variety of nonfiction forms and voices. Students can therefore expect to read, write and discuss nonfiction writing that ranges across genres, from personal and autobiographical modes, to more impersonal, journalistic modes of researched reportage, and more experimental, theoretical, lyric, hybrid and/or non-narrative literary forms. WRITE 297 aims to provide an introduction to the theories, problems and possibilities of nonfiction writing, and to effective workshop methods and techniques, as we experiment in our own writing with a range of basic skills, including description, narration, dialogue, analysis, character and setting. We will consider published essays as writing models on a weekly basis. An important note: WRITE 297 proceeds from the premise that strong writing and imaginative skills are inseparable from the cultivation of strong reading and critical skills – a reading practice that is both wide in range and “close” in its engagement with individual texts. So students should be ready to apply themselves closely to assigned course materials. In addition,  it is ESSENTIAL to note that WRITE 297 will operate  as a student-driven workshop collective that is writing intensive. Students are required to hand in drafts of their own work to be critiqued in small and large workshop groups on a regular basis. Advance submission of drafts, regular attendance and participation in class sessions and peer editing are essential and mandatory components of this course. Everyone will participate as a writer and reader/editor of others’ manuscripts on a weekly basis.

Course work will include three writing assignments of increasing length and value, as well as informal writing and reading exercises and activities (some in class, some assigned to be completed outside of class).

Please note that WRITE 297 is not a remedial language skills course but a senior course concerned with the basic practical and theoretical issues of nonfiction prose. Course prerequisite: 3 credits of junior English (or equivalent), not to be taken by students with credit in WRITE 298.

Required Course Texts: TBA