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WRT 563/663 Course Section 01
Course #2282/2276, The College of Saint Rose
Fall 2015; Daniel Nester, Instructor
Albertus Hall Room 301
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: 518-454-2812
Teaching Blog: nestersteachingblog.wordpress.com
Office: Dolan Hall, 442 Western Avenue, First Floor #2
Office hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 3pm-5pm and by appointment
Course Description for Fall 2015
This advanced workshop will study and cover modes of literary nonfiction: first-person and immersion journalism, personal essay, literary interviews, and profiles. We will dip our toes in new storytelling methods: video, audio, and web publishing platforms. Through assigned readings, students will read published models, hand in written assignments, and critique each other’s work each week. We will investigate and pitch to venues, publish one review or interview in Pine Hills Review, and collaborate on a final project that will be published on the Medium platform. Prerequisite: WRT 563 or permission of instructor. Fulfills 600-level
writing requirement. May be taken more than once for credit. (3 credits)
General Course Description
This course is a workshop in nonfiction writing, namely “creative nonfiction.” What is creative nonfiction? We will begin with one definition from Lee Gutkind, called the “godfather” of the genre, and work from there. Gutkind defines creative nonfiction as “nonfiction that employs techniques like scene, dialogue, description, while allowing personal point of view and voice (reflection) rather than maintaining the sham of objectivity.” I have an extended attempt at a definition here.
A writing workshop works from the premise that when a group of writers convene on a regular basis to present and help each other with their writing, the work will improve, and students will begin to see unexpected, surprising things show up along the way. Much like a traditional workshop in, say, poetry or fiction, we will present copies of our writing each week for written critique and discussion. The writing may be produced from open-ended assignments or from exercises and assignments given to you by your instructor. I have posted The “Rules” of A Creative Workshop here.
We will also have presentations on assigned readings.
Williford, Lex and Michael Martone. Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present. New York: Touchstone, 2007. [Amazon listing]
Copies of writing and web links will be supplied by the instructor. Do plan on printing at least 100 pages throughout the course of the semester, as well as making Xeroxes of your own drafts for others in class. Make plans accordingly: add prints through your ITS account, if necessary, to make sure you can print out your readings or your own work for class. Failure to be able to come to class with your own printed documents or copies of other students’ work will mean he or she is unprepared for class.
Course Requirements, Percentage of Your Final Grade
• 35% Participation: discussions, reading reactions, presentations, Writing Center visit, conferences, group work, group writing, critiques of student work;
• 35% Informal writing: weekly writing assignments, journal-writing in composition notebook, in-class exercises;
• 30% Formal writing: Two longer essays, exams, one at midterm and on at the end of the semester; Final Portfolio
Some of these are applicable to this class and some are not. I include everything here to give you more of a sense of how I teach as well as to get a better idea of my assessment methods
I use a grading rubric for many of my individual assignments. The following apply on class-by-class basis, and should give you an idea of how I assess student performance.
Syllabus Statements and Policies
We’ll go through these quickly in the first week of class. Please read through these.
Week-by-Week Class Plan
This section of the class syllabus is updated and adjusted often. Please check each week for changes and clarification regarding what work is due and what will be covered in class.
Week 1: September 2
Introductions. Go over Syllabus, assignments.
Due: Saturday, September 5, 11:59pm: Author Interview research, questions, draft of introduction/header note (200-250 words); name file “LastnameFirstnameAuthor1” and place in “Author Interview” folder in our Dropbox
From Touchstone, read Jo Ann Beard and John McPhee
Week 2: September 9
Author Interview: Present and discuss author research, questions, draft of introduction/header note.
Due: Saturday, September 12, 11:59pm: Profile pitches, with research, questions; name file “LastnameFirstnameProfilePitch” and place in “Profile” folder in our Dropbox
Week 3: September 16
Present and discuss pitches for our Profile Feature Story
“Inside the Mansion—and the Mind—of Kim Dotcom, the Most Wanted Man on the Internet,” Charles Graeber, Wired
“The Blind Faith of the One-Eyed Matador,” Karen Russell, GQ
“Judy Blume Knows All Your Secrets,” Susan Dominus, New York Times Magazine
“The Voice and the Hammer,” Jeff Sharlett, Virginia Quarterly Review
Week 4: September 23 No class; instructor is away
From Touchstone, read Phillip Lopate
Conferences: Present research and discuss sketches and drafts for Profile Feature Story
Week 5: September 30
From Touchstone, read Cheryl Strayed
Week 6: October 7
From Touchstone, read David Foster Wallace
Week 7: October 14
From Touchstone, read Eula Biss
Week 8: October 21
Read Didion, “The White Album”
Week 9: October 28 No class; instructor is away
Conferences: Present drafts of White Album Assignment
Draft of White Album due October 31, 11:59pm; place in TK folder in Dropbox
Week 10: November 4
White Album workshop 1
Week 11: November 11
White Album workshop 2
Week 12: November 18
Week 13: November 25 No class; Thanksgiving break
Week 14: December 2
Week 15: December 9
Week 16: Final conferences