The Essay: Creative Non-Fiction
University of Otago
Dunedin, New Zealand
Area of Study
Creative Writing, English
Taught In English
18 200-level ENGL points
Course Level Recommendations
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Recommended U.S. Semester Credits3 - 4
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units4 - 6
Hours & Credits
Researching and writing creative non-fiction aimed at a general audience, with an emphasis upon revision for publication.
ENGL 327 is intended to follow up the teaching in 127 and 227 on composition, rhetoric, and ?creative (or ?literary') non-fiction,' and a high level of competence in writing correct and pleasurably readable English prose will be assumed. Preference will be given to students who have taken these papers. The paper is aimed at later-year students, who may be expected to have developed a general view of some discipline or other in their major, or it may be an opportunity for pursuing some non-academic avocation of their own. ENGL 327 is a project-centred paper, in which students will choose and research a topic of their own choice (subject to approval), with the aim of producing a popularly-oriented non-fiction text which exhibits the fruits of sound scholarship. There has recently been a something of a boom in the reading and writing of non-fiction. In particular, there is the phenomenon of relatively brief texts that are sometimes referred to as ?biographies of things' or ?minutiae books,' that deal with some vivid and highly specific subject, often in science or history. We will study the structures and strategies of a number of published texts of this kind, examining their structure and style, and the variety of sub-genres that can be deployed in writing creative non-fiction.
8 work/seminars, including exercises for assessment
Lectures on the genres of non-fiction
Study of a variety of extended texts of popular non-fiction writing
All assessment internal
Students are expected:
- To research an appropriate non-fictional subject of their own choice
- To identify and deploy a range of approaches to writing about the subject
- To demonstrate and practice an awareness of a range of non-fictional writing skills
- To develop editing skills
- To produce a major prose work on the subject, suitable for a general readership
Kramer, Mark, and Wendy Call, ed. Telling True Stories: A Non-fiction Writers' Guide (Plume, 2007).
The following books will be the focus of class discussion:
Bodanis, David. E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation (Pan, 2001)
Roach, Mary. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (Norton, 2003)
Winchester, Simon. The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words (Penguin, 2002)
Sobel, Dava. Longitude (Harper)
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