An APPRECIATION

of a Professional Creative Nonfiction Writer

List of Writer's Pieces, Choice of Date by Mar. 7

Presentation Dates: Any Class between April 4 and April 30

The Steps:

1.  For this assignment, choose one professional creative nonfiction writer publishing in America in the last 150 years whose work you enjoy reading.  This person may be primarily a writer of fiction or poetry who has also written nonfiction prose.  Find and read at least 100 pages of this writer's nonfiction: chapters in a creative nonfiction book such as a memoir or travelogue, or separate pieces unconnected to one another.  Start by reading around widely: read in our textbook, pp. 182-375; read articles in the New Yorker; read articles in a collection you borrow from my office; read online.  Don't choose the first writer you encounter just to "get it over with." Rather, make an effort to find a writer congenial to your tastes as a reader and writer.  Or start with a writer you already enjoy.  You could also start with a subject you enjoy reading about and look for a writer who specializes in that subject.  You could then browse the relevant section in a bookstore to find an author. 

2.  Once you have chosen your writer, find more of the writer's pieces by scanning "Notes on Contributors for Writing True," pp. 376 ff. in our text; by "Googling" the writer's name; by browsing in my office book shelf; and by searching the CUNY Plus library catalogue.  Choose as many of the writer's pieces as you want to read and list them in APA or MLA format to hand in on March 7.  Remember that you must read at least 100 pages.

3.  Read your chosen writer's nonfiction pieces.  But don't read passively this time.  Take notes, underline bits you like, write comments in the margins, and so on.  Here are some questions you can discuss in your presentation, so keep them in mind as you read.  (I refer to your chosen author as A.)  You need specific examples from A's writing.  Hence my emphasis on your reading with pen and notebook in hand.  Your main purpose in your 6-8 minute talk is to explain and illustrate your choice of A's writing, to make some point about it and about A's writing style.  

4.  Any time up to March 7, make a date with me for your presentation, which should be 6-8 minutes long, for any class day from Ap. 4 to Ap. 30, one student per day, first come, first served.  If you want my feedback on your Appreciation before it is due, bring me an outline of your ideas at least one week before your presentation date.  

5.  In your presentation, talk to us in an engaging way about A's nonfiction, and use the computer screen not to repeat whatever you're saying but to show us a few sentences of A's work as illustrations.  There is nothing more boring than a Powerpoint that repeats whatever you're saying!   Just make your talk interesting and lively. 

6.  Your presentation, which will be graded, will be evaluated by both the class and by me on criteria we will determine together.  It is worth 10 points of your final course grade.