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ENG 322

Creative Writing II: Nonfiction Topics

This course will explore a specific genre of nonfiction in depth. Class will operate as an advanced writing workshop that uses master works as models and inspiration. Offerings might include profiles, travel writing, personal essays, reviews, memoir, nature writing or literary nonfiction. Prerequisite: ENG 201.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
ENG 201 1 course

Spring Semester information

Rick Bass

322A: Fiction & Environmental Nonfiction Workshop

Fiction & Environmental Nonfiction Workshop

It might seem that these two genres could not be more different, and to some extent, that will be the point of the class. We'll examine the great American short story renaissance of the late 1970s and 1980s, in which the classic short story form was addressed with renewed elegance, even as--always--experimentation was taking place.

We'll also look at a few examples of environmental nonfiction and ask ourselves, in an era of donor fatigue and chronic bad news, how does one write effectively about the natural world, or is it even possible, given the facts of the times? And which is worse: the familiar litany of doom-and-gloom, or the artificially hope-striven, with its formulaic upbeat twist right at the very end, despite the advancing darkness?

In both these genres, we'll examine what works--a solid sense of story--and will workshop our own work, with an eye not just on technical improvements but also a plumbing of the mysterious and the subconscious, where the heart of much great writing resides.

Recommended reading: Joe by Larry Brown and All the Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren

Fall Semester information


322A: Creative Nonfiction Tps: The Lyric Essay

An advanced course in reading for writers, critical analysis of techniques of the lyric essay, and intensive creative writing. Discussions will address how the lyric essay creates an artistic space that welcomes other genres (poetry, fiction, journalism, drama, song, and film), and how truth and fact function within it. Students will be asked to analyze the readings closely, and to write short essays based on imitations of the style, structure, syntax, and narrative devices found in the readings. The final creative project is a lyric essay of approximately 3,000-5,000 words. Texts may include: Virginia Woolf's Moments of Being, Eula Biss' No Man's Land, Claudia Rankine's Citizen, Karen Green's Bough Down, Maggie Nelson's Bluets, Sarah Manguso's Two Kinds of Decay, Anne Carson's NOX, Hilton Als' The Women, Wayne Koestenbaum's Humiliation, Kevin Young's The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, Charles Simic's Dime-Store Alchemy, and Annie Ernaux's Shame.

Spring Semester information

Gregory Schwipps

322A: Tps: