ENG. 245, Creative Nonfiction   


SPRING, 2013    Prof. Pat Licklider

Expect to discuss all reading and to hand in all writing unless I indicate otherwise.

JAN. 29: Introduction to the course: your "expert" lists; other brainstorming for potential writing topics; in-class writing: What in your past has shaped your attitude toward writing?  HOMEWORK: Read Chap. 1 of Writing True, on Ereserve.  The password is writing.  Choose one "Way In," pp. 14-19, and write about it, following directions.  ALSO, read the main page for this course on my website, www.plicklider.com. Find 3 stylistic and 3 content differences between that version and the syllabus I handed out in class.

JAN. 31: Groups read homework of others in the first Round-Robin Reading Session.  Topics for one-page Observations developed.  HOMEWORK: Read Chap. 2 of Writing True, on Ereserve (the password is writing), and choose one of the "Ways In" on pp. 31-32 to compose at least a full page of writing (by hand or on computer).  Bring your writing to class together with an idea for a one-page Observation.  See Observations for more info. 

FEB. 5: Topics for your Observations discussed.  Reading the New Yorker magazine every week, small-group assignments. Write with Style: Showing rather than Telling.   HOMEWORK:  Write your one-page observation.  Skim the New Yorker

FEB. 7: DUE: One-page Observation  Round-Robin Reading Session and commentary.  Punctuation Pointer: That Pesky Comma, Part 1.  Also, imagining the past: getting started on an Autobiographical Sketch.  HOMEWORK: Read Chaps. 3 & 4 in Writing True, pp. 33-63.  Choose and write on one of the "Ways In" on pp. 61-63.

FEB. 12:  No Class Ė Lincolnís Birthday

FEB. 14: .Advanced Sentence Work: Parallel Structure.  Also, more on imagining the past.   HOMEWORK: This week, your main task is to choose a professional writer of creative nonfiction whom you enjoy.  The purpose of this choice is for you to read about 100 pages of the writer's prose and write an Appreciation.  Click on Appreciation for the stages and due dates of this assignment. Start with the writers collected in our text, pp. 182-375.  Consider the writers in the New Yorker, and  borrow other collections of essays from my office.  

FEB. 19:  Punctuation Pointer: That Pesky Comma, Part 2.  HOMEWORK: Read on-line description of the assignment for and the student examples of the Autobiographical Sketch. Bring to the next class two or three paragraphs of an autobiographical sketch you might write. These are "try-outs," so each paragraph may be on a different subject. You will get peer feedback on your choice(s).  

FEB. 21:  Peer feedback on your ideas for the Autobiographical Sketch.  Also, Write with Style: Wordiness 1.  HOMEWORK: Read Chaps. 5-6 in Writing True, pp. 64-79 & 85-105.  Choose and write on one of the "Ways In," pp. 77-79.

FEB. 26: :  Write with Style: Experimenting with voice. Also, Advanced Sentence Work: The Past Perfect Tense.  HOMEWORK: Read in Writing True Chap. 10, pp. 163-178, read two of the essays in Chap. 11, pp. 182-217, and all of  Chap. 17, "Short Shorts," pp. 363-375.

 FEB. 28: Ethical issues in creative nonfiction, journalism, and other "true" writing.  Also, Write with Style: Wordiness 2.  HOMEWORK:  Write and bring to the next class a full draft of your Autobiographical Sketch.  It may be hand-written.

MAR. 5: DUE: Draft of Autobiographical Sketch. See Autobiographical Sketch. Workshopping of drafts.  Discussion of revision.  HOMEWORK: Read Chap. 7 in Writing True, pp. 106-128.  Also, survey the writing of the author you chose for your Appreciation, and make a list of pieces you will read. They should total at least 100 pages.

 MAR. 7: DUE: List of pieces by your chosen author and choice of date for your Appreciation.  See Appreciation for details.  Discussion of interviewing techniques.    Also, Advanced Sentence Work: Reported Speech and Dialogue.  HOMEWORK: Revise and edit your Autobiographical Sketch. 

MAR. 12: DUE: Autobiographical Sketch. See Autobiographical Sketch. Second Round-Robin Reading Session. Further discussion of interviewing techniques.  HOMEWORK:  Read the assignment Profile of a Person. Also read student examples and the "Portraits," Chap. 13, pp. 263-83 in Writing True.  Bring in the name of the person you hope to interview and profile.  

 MAR. 14: In-class writing on any anxiety you have felt while doing any writing for this course so far. Further discussion of interviewing and profiling.  Also, Punctuation Pointer: Punctuating Dialogue  HOMEWORK:  Make an appointment to interview the subject of your Profile.  Find 2-3 sentences in your chosen author's writing that describe a person well.  Email your sentences to me by 9:00 pm Sunday,  to use in the next class.  Also, read Chap. 9, pp. 143-162 in Writing True and on Ereserve, skim Hilton Als' profile of Toni Morrison, called "Ghosts in the House." The Ereserve password is writing.

*Conference Week: During this next week, Thursday, Mar. 14-Tuesday, Mar. 19, everyone must come to my office for a required conference about each personís writing thus far.  Make appts. during class, Mar. 12.

MAR. 19: Good descriptions of a person: Samples from various writers.  Also, Write with Style: Pitfalls of  the Thesaurus  HOMEWORK:  On Ereserve, read the Q and A interview with John McPhee, and Beth Leech's short article on "Asking Questions."  Finally, skim the selection from Schumacher's Conducting Interviews on how to use an interviewee's words. The Ereserve password is writing. 

MAR. 21: Professor Away: Use this free period to develop questions for your interviewee or even for the interview itself. 

MAR. 26-28-APRIL 2:  Spring Break - ENJOY!     HOMEWORK: Write a draft of your Profile.  It may be hand-written.

APRIL 4: DUE: Draft of Profile Workshopping of drafts in groups.  Discussion of the Reporter-at-large piece.  HOMEWORK: Review research papers you have written in the past: Do you want to rewrite one in a popular style for your Reporter-at-large essay?  Or do you want to research another area that interests you?  Read the assignment for this last piece at Reporter-at-large.  Look over the 3 essays in Chap 15, pp. 303-325 in Writing True.  Bring to class two possible topics for your Reporter-at-large essay. 

APRIL 9: Writing the Reporter-at-large essay. Also, Punctuation Pointer: Run-ons, Semicolons and Colons.   HOMEWORK: Read Chap. 8, pp.163-78, and Kim Stafford's essay "The Writer as Professional Eavesdropper," pp. 353-62 in Writing True.  What's the value of humor in a piece of writing?  Do you see any ethical issues in Stafford's method of accumulating sayings?  Have you ever tried this eavesdropping for good material?

APRIL 11:   HOMEWORK: Finish and edit your Profile.

APRIL 16: DUE: Profile. Round-Robin Reading Session.  Also, discussion of ways of writing and organizing the reporter-at-large piece. HOMEWORK: Read your chosen author and write your Appreciation.  See Appreciation for details.  Also, do some research and writing for your Reporter-at-large piece.

APRIL 18: Writing with Style: Absolute Free Phrases  HOMEWORK: By midnight on Friday, April 19, submit a draft of your Reporter-at-large essay to Turnitin.com for review by your peers.  The draft should be as complete as you can make it at this point, at least 4 pages. I will assign peer reviewers in class.

APRIL 23: Writing with Style: Fun with imitation  HOMEWORK: By midnight Sunday, April 21, comment on two other classmates' drafts of the Reporter-at-large essays on Turnitin.com.  In class, I will tell you whose drafts to read and what sorts of comments to make.

APRIL 23: TBA  HOMEWORK: Complete and edit your Reporter-at-large essay.  See Reporter for details.

APRIL 25: Due:  Reporter-at-large Piece  Round-Robin Reading Session (Everyone reads a page.)

***Conference Week: During this next week, Monday, April 29, to Friday, May 3, everyone must come to my office for a required conference about each personís writing thus far and about the long piece that each will revise for the final portfolio. I will make appointments for these conferences in class on April 25.

APRIL 30:  Class Magazine Production.   HOMEWORK:  Write a page or two on some decision(s) you made this term about a piece you had to write for this course. Be as specific as possible. Then offer some advice to other student writers, based on your experiences making the decisions you describe.  

MAY 2:   Class Magazine Production. Bring to class the long piece you intend to revise for the final portfolio.  

MAY 7:   Class Magazine Production.  HOMEWORK: Work on the revision of your long piece.

MAY 9:   Class Magazine Production.   HOMEWORK:  Write a page or two (need not be typed) about your experiences this term as both a reader/editor and as a writer who got read and edited by others. How did the two experiences feel? What, if anything, did you learn about writing, reading, and editing? Be specific!

MAY 14: TBA  HOMEWORK: Work on your final portfolio.

MAY 16: DUE: Final Portfolio. Final Round-Robin Reading Session


MAY 21: 10:15-12:15 p.m. Class Evaluation.  Portfolios returned.