Introduction to Creative Nonfiction Writing (3) Introduces lyric and narrative forms in memoir writing and the personal essay.
ENGL 214 Introduction to Creative Nonfiction Writing (3)
Creative nonfiction borrows techniques from fiction and poetry while adhering to but also sometimes questioning notions of truth. It stretches the bounds of literary or narrative journalism by asking the reader to consider it as art, primarily, versus as testimony, fact, or information-delivery.
Students taking this course will explore the genre's influences in fiction, research, and poetry; critical analyses will complement this exploration, and formal experimentation will prepare students to imagine novel relationships between form and content.
Discussing traditional storytelling technique, the course introduces students to story rudiments including the inciting episode, rising and falling action, climax and denouement and the so-called swerve ending.. The course also introduces students to the possibilities of the nonlinear “lyric essay” as outlined in Seneca Review and elsewhere, as well as to the “modular” essay; uses of blank space for communicating the unsayable; and how poetic style can circle elusive meaning.
In exploring issues of nuance and implied or glanced-at meaning, the course also discusses the place of truth in nonfiction—differing constructions and conceptions of truth; reader expectations for factuality in a work of nonfiction; and the complications of unreliability when the fallibility of memory or a multiplicity of perspectives color testimony.
Finally, the course examines the role of nontraditional structure in conveying a postmodern understanding of subjectivity, for instance by looking at the use of multiple voices and personae in the works of certain contemporary authors.
While English 215 teaches skills for the journalist in developing feature-style journalism and narrative personal essays, English 214, alternatively, will explore and exploit the influence of fiction, poetry, and other lyric forms. Students in this course will produce writing more appropriate to a literary journal than a news magazine; their writing will concern broad, sometimes disjunctive themes, and stray away from the nut-graf, news-hook, or even an obvious narrative focus.
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.