Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Course Content and Outcomes Guide for WR 248 Effective Fall 2021

Course Number:
WR 248
Course Title:
Advanced Creative Writing - Nonfiction
Credit Hours:
4
Lecture Hours:
40
Lecture/Lab Hours:
0
Lab Hours:
0
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. Prerequisites: WR 240 or instructor permission. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  • Articulate techniques and strategies a wide range of established authors demonstrate in their work in order to apply the elements of prose (eg. plot, dialogue, character, point of view) and develop a voice.
  • 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) in increasingly complex ways.
  • Use self-reflection and writing 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 one's experience of effective workshop techniques along with critical thinking and problem solving to effectively critique others' nonfiction and communicate suggestions about strengths and weaknesses of drafts to peers.
  • Become familiar with creative nonfiction websites, awards, readings, workshops, and publication opportunities, and submit manuscripts for publication or performance.

Integrative Learning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to reflect on one’s work or competencies to make connections between course content and lived experience.

General education philosophy statement

English and Writing courses align with the PCC General Education philosophy by providing an appreciation of writing and literature from global and personal perspectives. Students in English courses engage the imagination, critical inquiry and self?reflection, and in the process of doing so, cultivate a more complex understanding of their own culture(s), linguistic/communication practices, and perspectives in relation to others. Because the literary arts lie at the heart of most human cultures, they are essential for understanding ourselves and each other and navigating our differences. Like all artistic practices, Creative Writing allows us to process experience and, in doing so, discover and create meaning. In Creative Writing courses, students produce and revise original writing, workshop their writing and the writing of others, study literature, and learn about editing and publishing. Courses in creative writing empower students to realize themselves as writers. In the process, students nurture and harness their creativity, develop their unique writing voices, and explore interdisciplinary aspects of their craft — connections with art, music, and science, for example. Writing and Literature courses foster a stronger sense of engagement with history, culture, and society. Writing and Literature students develop an awareness of themselves as readers and writers in a global world, and an enlarged understanding of the relationships between language, identity, ideas, scholarship, communication, and transformation.

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 policies vary with instructors.

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
Conflict
Tone/Language
Text/Subtext
Figurative language
Genres
Pacing
Revision
Theme
Writing as a process
Close reading and analysis
Documentation
Paraphrasing and quoting
Plagiarism
Evaluating sources
Multiple interpretations
Audience, Purpose, and Occasion
Satire
Analysis
Antithesis
Autobiography
Cadence   
Essai
Metaphor   
Mosaic
Panoramic exposition
Cultural Criticism
Persona
Rhythm
Stylebook (stylesheet)
Voice

Texts

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.