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Course Content and Outcomes Guide for WR 248 Effective Summer 2021

Course Number:
WR 248
Course Title:
Advanced Creative Writing - Nonfiction
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Extends the introduction of 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: WR 240 or instructor permission. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Outcomes for this course require working through multiple drafts of several pieces of writing with time to separate the acts of writing and revising; in addition, the reading outcomes require time to read, reread, reflect, respond, interpret, analyze, and evaluate. 

Upon completion of the course, 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.
*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.
*Employ critical thinking and problem-solving techniques to critique others' essays constructively and use criticism of their own essays and self-reflection to revise their own essays for publication.
*Engage in the local writing scene, becoming familiar with creative nonfiction websites, awards, readings, workshops, and publication opportunities, and submit manuscripts for publication or performance.

Course Activities and Design

Students participate in focused discussions based on assigned reading from work by professional writers, and in workshops in which students present their writings for critique. Approximately one-third of the class is devoted to the discussion of readings and the presentation of techniques. The remaining two-thirds typically centers on the workshops, in which students, in large or small groups, read aloud and constructively evaluate each other’s creative nonfiction, copies of which are provided to the class by the students. Critiques may be written or oral, or both. The instructor should spend approximately an hour of conference with each student outside of class. 

Outcome Assessment Strategies

The course grade is determined by appraisal of the student’s writing and participation in the workshop process, including contribution to discussion and the quality of written comment on the work of others.  

Assessment may include informal responses to study questions, evaluation of small and full-group discussion; writing different kinds of creative nonfiction essays; presentations by individuals and groups; close reading exercises; writing exercises which include evaluation of various interpretations of a text and their relative validity. Other assessment strategies may include a portfolio of original works, revised and polished; a series of critical essays, revised and polished; a journal of questions and answers exhibiting the student’s methods of inquiry; participation in a student literary reading. 

Both instructor and peer evaluation will be incorporated in the assessment process. Regular attendance and meeting deadlines for assignments are essential to the workshop process and may figure into the final grade. Attendance polices vary with instructors: Students missing a week’s 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
Implied thesis
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 piece’s 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
Figurative language
Writing as a process
Close reading and analysis
Paraphrasing and quoting
Evaluating sources
Multiple interpretations
Audience, Purpose, and Occasion
Panoramic exposition
Cultural Criticism
Stylebook (stylesheet)


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: 

  • D’Agata, John. The Next American Essay.
  • Iversen, Kristen. Shadow Boxing: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction.
  • [Current Editor] Best American Essays [particular year].
  • Loughery, John. The Eloquent Essay: An Anthology of Classic & Creative Nonfiction.
  • Tisdale, Sallie. Stepping Westward: The Long Search for Home in the Pacific Northwest.