UNIT TWO

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CREATIVE NONFICTION

During this unit we will explore the parameters of creative nonfiction, starting with our own memories and lives and then moving out beyond ourselves to write about people and places beyond ourselves. We will write two shorts and one longer work of creative nonfiction. In addition, we will add the following:

PRESENTATIONS: Each class will open with a brief student presentation on one of the writers assigned for that day. The 10-minute presentation should direct us as apprentice writers to lessons to be gleaned from the assigned reading. The presenter should read a short excerpt to the class and focus on what it teaches us about writing creative nonfiction. The presentation is not a summary of the work, nor is it an act of literary analysis. Read as a writer, zeroing in on a specific passage that can teach us something important about writing. PRACTICE THE PRESENTATION–THE TIME LIMIT IS ABSOLUTE and you will be recorded. Within one week following your presentation, listen to the recording posted on the course blog and post a self-evaluation of the content and delivery.

Presentation Schedule: (Sign up in class, 2/28)
March 4 Kyle
March 6 —
March 11 Eleanor
March 13 Tamara
March 18 Clare
March 20 Matt

READING RESPONSES: During this unit you must post to your blog one 1-2 page response to one of the assigned readings. Respond to it as a writer learning from a writer–do not summarize the work or tell us what it means. Tell us how it works and what lessons you take away with you. Also write your own paragraph in imitation of the writer’s style. Due in your unit portfolio. If you are presenting during this unit, you must select different readings for these assignments. Check out Katie‘s and Maddie‘s for models.

WRITER’S NOTEBOOK: You should be messing around with words, with images, with sentences in your notebook this unit, ten minutes here, ten minutes there. At the end of the unit you will collect a sampling of these playful entries to include in your portfolio. You are building your writer’s habit here.

PERSONAL UNIVERSE DECK: By the end of the unit, the deck should swell to over 200 words. BRING IT TO EVERY CLASS!

GROUP WRITING EXERCISES: As part of your writing habit, we’ll try out the following creative nonfiction exercise– 100 words plus: every three days one of us in turn (we can follow the list on the sidebar) will set a topic. Each of us can choose to write to the prompt, which we will post both to the Motherblog as a comment to the prompt and to our own blogs, or we can wait a day and write instead in response to one of the 100-word pieces from the day before. We’ll post these as comments to the Motherblog prompt and the writer’s blog and on our own blog.

New Feedback Groups:
Katie’s: Matt, Andrew, Alicia, Clare, Chris, Eleanor

Maddie’s: Carolyn, Simone, Laura, Kyle, Doug

Alex’s: Sean, Mikaela, Lois, Tamara, Tony, Gregg

Tuesday, March 4
Writing about Ourselves, Our Memories, Our Imaginations
Assignment Due:
Reading:
D’Agata: Kincaid p.41
Oates: Borges, p.277; Dybek, p. 57; Wright, p.42, 43; Kerouac, p. 281
Hand-out

Writing:
A rough draft of a 250-word (more or less) one-scene true story from your life. Think about JoAnn Beard’s “In The Current” or Naomi Shihab Nye’s “How to Get There”; take a look at Katie’s “Canals,” Maddie’s “Smoke,” and Alex’s “Costa Rica” from their days in ENAM 170 . Post them. Bring a copy to class. Always bring copies of your work-in-progress.

Wednesday, March 5
Workshop #4: Workshopping the Early Draft
Bring to class 6 copies of your short.
Make sure you’ve read & responded on the blogs to your workshop group’s shorts before the workshop.

Thursday, March 6
Forms: Short vs. Long

Assignment Due:
Reading: D’Agata: Weinberger, p. 123

Oates: Hong Kingston, p. 285

Tuesday, March 11
Balance

Assignment Due:
Reading
: D’Agata: Maso, p. 391; Griffin, p. 301
Web reading: Listen to Jack Kerouac read an excerpt from The Subterraneans and read an excerpt from On the Road

Writing:
1. Stranger Studies:
Go out and discreetly (meaning, without offending anyone) observe people you do not know and have, ideally, never before seen. Write several brief sketches of these strangers, trying to create the person as fully and objectively as possible in as few words as possible.

Then choose one sketch you want to work with a bit more and write three versions of it (no more than three sentences each), descriptions which explore who you think this person is:
–one relying exclusively on physical description;
–one relying exclusively on the person’s movement;
–and one that creates a direct relationship between you and the person (you put yourself quite directly into this one).
Read Alex‘s, Maddies‘ and Katie‘s.

2. Record yourself reading aloud one of your stranger studies –post to archive.org and the blog.
3. Turn the stranger study into a 250-word nonfiction short.
3. Respond, respond…

Wednesday, March 12
Workshop #5 AT BARBARA’S HOUSE??

Moving into a Longer Work of Creative Nonfiction
Bring ideas for a 1000-1500 word work of creative nonfiction that is as much about the world outside yourself as it is about you. Look at Alex‘s Katie‘s and Maddie‘s for inspiration.

Thursday, March 13
Narration/Point of View

Assignment Due:
Reading:
D’Agata–Annie Dillard, p. 95; David Shields, p. 339

Writing: Begin work on your longer work of creative nonfiction (1000-1500 words), a piece turned away from the direct expression of your own experience, to focus as much on another person, place or event as on yourself (in-class exercises will help you work towards possible subjects and forms). Don’t forget to blog and to comment/respond/discuss!

Tuesday, March 18
Structure

Assignment Due:

Reading: D’Agata –David Foster Wallace, p. 345; Hand-out  Thomas Lynch “Bodies in Motion and at Rest”

Writing: Complete draft of Longer Piece Due, posted and brought to class.

Wednesday, March 19
Workshop #6 : Workshop Long Drafts READ & RESPOND ON BLOG BEFORE WORKSHOP

Thursday, March 20
Moving Into Fiction

ASSIGNMENT:

Revise, revise

NONFICTION PORTFOLIO DUE FRIDAY, March 21 by 5:00 p.m.

Contents:

1. Reflective meta-essay about your journey through creative nonfiction
2. Recording
3. At least one response to the reading
4. Writer presentation self-evaluation (if applicable)
5. A sampling from your writer’s notebook (3 or 4 excerpts)
6. And, of course, all the writing assignments, big and small.

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