Course Content and Outcome Guide for WR 240 Effective Summer 2015
- Course Number:
- WR 240
- Course Title:
- Creative Writing - Nonfiction
- Credit Hours:
- Lecture Hours:
- Lecture/Lab Hours:
- Lab Hours:
- Special Fee:
Course DescriptionIntroduces creative nonfiction and the writing of essays using creative techniques, such as personal narrative, memoir, nature and travel writing, and literary journalism. Explores the works of established writers for forms, techniques and styles as a context for the production of creative nonfiction for class discussion and analysis. Prerequisites: WR121. Audit available.
Addendum to Course Description
Students who are candidates for WR 240 should possess writing skills to the degree that mechanical errors and organizational problems
are minimal, allowing them to experiment and develop their craft from sentence level to a finished, publishable piece of writing.
Intended Outcomes for the course
Upon successful completion students should be able to:
*Read a wide range of established creative nonfiction writers to learn techniques demonstrated in their work.
*Employ creative writing techniques drawn from fiction, poetry, and scriptwriting, such as characterization, setting, descriptive detail, concreteness, dialogue, flashbacks, juxtaposition, metaphor, voice, tone, formality and informality; alternate narrative summary and scene.
*Use self-reflection and techniques for employing the imagination to generate new essays and then to revise the essays, using techniques for re-entering or re-seeing a piece of writing.
*Use critical thinking and problem solving to critique others' poems and communicate suggestions about strengths and weaknesses of drafts to peers.
*Engage subjects by participating directly in the action being written about, such as by doing indepth in-person interviews or designing an experience, and then pursuing the experience with the foreknowledge that the experience will constitute the basis of an essay.
Course Activities and Design
Students are expected to write several papers of 500 to 1,500 words each. Assignments are made with broad parameters, so that students of advanced skills may take responsibility for making as many choices as possible about their writing, including the appropriate length. The final assignment may consist of a significant revision of one essay. Approximately one-third of class time is spent discussing essays or other writings by established writers that have been assigned from a text or from handouts. These readings, related to assignments, illustrate contemporary techniques of creative nonfiction. Roughly two-thirds of class time is devoted to workshop format, in which students, usually as a single large group, discuss each others work, copies of which are provided to the class by the students. Student critique also takes the form of written comments. All out-of-class writing must be typed or keyboarded. Other activities may include listening and/or viewing recordings of writers reading their work and/or talking about the craft of writing, guest writer visits or field trips to readings. Students are required to attend a minimum of one hour of out-of-class conferences with the instructor.
Outcome Assessment Strategies
The course grade is determined by appraisal of the students writing and participation in the workshop process, including contribution to discussion and the quality of written comments on the work of others. Students may be asked to demonstrate their understanding of reading assignments, technique and craft through journals, quizzes, exams or portfolios. Regular attendance and meeting deadlines for assignments are essential to the workshop process and may figure into the final grade. Attendance policies vary with instructors: students missing a weeks worth of class may not expect an A; those missing two weeks worth may not pass the course.
Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)
Narrative voice and distance
Scene vs. summary
Point of view: first, second, third person
segmented, or associative structure
Sources of material: personal experience, interview, research using resources
online, in print and in person (interviews), walking the ground,
meditation and reflection
Elements which create a pieces voice: metaphors, images, choice of dialogue
to quote, quality of reflection, humor, irony, allusion, symbol
Methods of handling time: flashbacks, frames, juxtaposition and
interweaving, straight and reverse chronology
Writing as a process
Close reading and analysis
Paraphrasing and quoting
Audience, Purpose, and Occasion
The following items are intended as descriptions of instructors choices of texts in the past as an aid to choosing texts in the future. This is not intended as a prescribed or recommended list of texts.
1. Many instructors use how to write texts designed for college level creative writing courses, such as:
· Lynn Z. Bloom, Fact and Artifact: Writing Nonfiction.
· Theodore A. Rees Cheney. Writing Creative Nonfiction: How to Use Fiction Techniques to Make Your Nonfiction More Interesting, Dramatic and Vivid.
· Lydia Fakundiny. The Art of the Essay.
· Philip Gerard. Creative Nonfiction: Researching and Crafting Stories of Real Life.
· Lee Gutkind. The Art of Creative Nonfiction: Writing and Selling the Literature of Reality.
· Iversen, Kristen. Shadow Boxing: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction.
· Patsy Sims, Literary Nonfifction
· William Zinsser. On Writing Well: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction.
2. Along with a textbook and sometimes as the only text, instructors often use anthologies of creative nonfiction, such as:
· [Current Editor] Best American Essays [particular year]
· Mark Kramer and Norman Sims, eds. Literary Journalism: A New Collection of the Best American Nonfiction.
· Phillip Lopate, ed. The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present.
· Robert L. Root and Michael Steinberg, eds. The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers of/on Creative Nonfiction.
3. Instructors also sometimes choose books by individual writers, the choice depending upon the instructors tastes, inclinations, and intentions for the class.
· William Kittredge. Owning It All.
· Terry Tempest Williams. Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family & Place
· Mary Clearman Blew: Bone Deep in Landscape: Writing, Reading and Place
Instructors new to the course should contact the campus creative writing chair, creative writing SAC chair, writing SAC chair, faculty department chair, or administrative support person for further information.