ENGLISH 465 CREATIVE NONFICTION WORKSHOP (Oestreich) ENGL465_OestreichJ_SampleSyllabus
Other than being cemented in truth, what ties the CNF subgenres together is that the writing is an act of exploration, born out of curiosity. The impetus for the project is often the desire to answer some question about the world and the writer’s (and by extension the reader’s) place in it. The first unit of this class will focus on the memoir essay—writing wherein the author tells stories to make meaning of the events of his own life. However, we will be careful not to engage in self-important navel gazing. Just because something happened to you does not automatically make it important to anyone else. We will write to discover why the events in our lives matter and how the things that happened, happened. By examining our own lives as honestly as we can, we not only expect to discover more about ourselves, but we also hope to unearth the universal truths that make our stories resonate with those who read them. In the second unit we will expand beyond the memoir to the personal essay (writing more about ideas than events), and we will experiment with forms (the fragmented essay, the hermit crab essay) that challenge the primacy of straight, chronological narration. Please note that although this is a writing class, there will be a heavy reading load. Musicians listen to music, artists look at paintings, and writers read. A lot.