The best literary nonfiction borrows several things from fiction: strong character development, well-developed, nuanced scenes, and a tangible narrative arc. But it also often bears the hallmarks of good journalism: thorough research, live reporting and a writer’s quizzical, intelligent stance. This class meets directly at the intersection of fiction’s energy and journalism’s integrity—the place where literary nonfiction is born.
In this class, students will not only learn the components of a good story, but what makes an idea compelling to a diverse audience to begin with. We’ll look at and write three forms of nonfiction: memoir, the personal essay, and the literary profile. We’ll read masters in these three major styles as well as some newer voices—writers like Joan Didion, Jamaica Kincaid, bell hooks, and Lauren Slater, to explore things like tone and approach, argument and appeal. Each form is distinct, but we’ll build on the skills we establish as the class moves along. The memoir, for instance, will be a short assignment, and based entirely on students’ lived experience. The personal essay can incorporate elements of students’ lives and belief systems, but must also integrate reporting and outside research. The final profile will be based entirely on reporting but will be literary in style and approach, with attention to scene, character development and dramatic tension.
Tuition & Fees
Materials Fee: $20
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