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English 2268 : Writing Creative Nonfiction I

Summer Term 2012 | MW 1:50-4:30pm, Denney 368


Instructor: Silas Charles Hansen Office Hours: TR 12-1:30pm, and by appointment; Denney 368A Contact Information: hansen.312@osu.edu C ou rs e De s c r ipt ion Writing Creative Nonfiction I is the introductory course in writing creative nonfiction. Creative nonfiction is a strange mixture of the content of journalism and memoir with the tools of both fiction and poetry that, we hope, creates art. In studying the genre, we will take a look at many of the different subgenres, including the traditional (literary journalism, memoir, personal essay, etc.) and the non-traditional (lyric essay, comics, non-linear narratives, pieces that incorporate digital media, etc.) to find what works best for each of our own stories. We will read a variety of published examples of creative nonfiction and try our hand at similar tactics via writing exercises. We will share our work in the classroom, taking the time to think about how to talk about our artistic goals, beliefs, and struggles. My hope is that you will leave this class with a better understanding of yourself as a writer, and with the tools necessary to succeed in your future writing endeavors. Re qu i re d Mater ia ls Miller, Brenda and Suzanne Paolo. Tell It Slant, 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Various essays posted to Carmen (you must have access to these in class)

C ou rs e Re qu i rements S hor t Wr iting A s sig nme nt & P re se ntation s 25%

Throughout the term, we will begin three short writing assignments during class. These will be based on things we have been talking/reading about, and there will be a loose set of guidelines. I will not be prescribing a certain type of essay for you instead, I will want you to showcase the skills youre learning in whatever way makes sense to you. You will complete these assignments, which should each be approximately 1000-2000 words long, and turn them in to Carmen by the date specified. Each week, we will have a workshop schedule for these assignments. Instead of a traditional workshop, though, I want you to think of your scheduled slot as a time for you to discuss your writing process, talk about specific issues you are having with this piece, and ask questions of your classmates about how to proceed. You will be graded on (1) your adherence to a loose set of guidelines for the assignment and (2) your preparedness for the assignment. These will not necessarily be final essays that you would turn in for a more traditional workshop, but may be the beginnings of a longer work. In div idu al Me e ting 10%

We will have one fifteen-minute conference in Week 6. During this conference, we will talk about the writing exercises youve turned in and about any specific things I want you to be thinking about as you move toward your final portfolio. You will be graded on (1) your attendance at your scheduled conference and (2) your preparedness for the conference, based on a handout I will give you in Week 5.

Fin al Por t folio

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For your final portfolio, you will turn in (1) a 500-750-word artists statement that engages with specific questions weve grappled with throughout the quarter, such as Where do you individually draw the line between fiction and nonfiction? and What do you value in nonfiction? and (2) a complete, 2500-4000-word piece of creative nonfiction. The essay may be an extension of one of your writing exercises from this class, or might be something completely new. Think of this essay as a formal draft that is, it should be free of typos and grammatical and spelling errors, and it should be complete, but it wont be finished. This is an essay that you will be able to continue to revise and rework based on the comments Ill give you. Par tic ipation 25%

You are required to come to class prepared: having completed the readings of both example essays and your classmates work, and ready to contribute positively to discussion, armed with the necessary materials. Your participation grade can be affected by the following: absences, tardiness, being disrespectful to other members of the class, and not contributing positively to discussion. If youre worried about your grade for this portion of the class, come talk to me early in the term and we can talk more specifically about my expectations. Gr ade s You will earn a letter grade for each assignment, ranging from A to E. These letter grades will correspond to numbers on the 4.0 scale, which will be used to calculate your final grade. If you have specific questions about your grade, or why you received it, please come talk to me. However, please keep in mind that I will not discuss grades via email, and for privacy reasons, you should come see me during office hours, rather than talking to me about your grade in front of classmates. C ou rs e Pol ic ie s As this is a discussion-based class and we will only meet 13 times this summer, attendance is mandatory. If you must miss class due to a family emergency, contagious or debilitating illness, or official representation of the university, you must contact me before class begins. I reserve the right to require documentation. Unexcused absences will affect your participation grade, and each unexcused absence after two will lower your final grade for the course by one-third of a letter grade (ex: from an A- to a B+). If you have more than four unexcused absences, you will automatically fail the course. If you miss class due to an unexcused absence on a day that your work will be discussed, we will not reschedule and your grade for that writing exercise will lose one full letter. If you must miss for an excused reason, we will make every effort to reschedule. Tardiness is disruptive and is disrespectful to your classmates and the instructor. Frequent tardiness will affect your participation grade. Late work will be reduced by one full letter grade for each day that it is late. As your classmates need time to read and comment on your writing, late exercises will not be accepted if turned in after 12pm on Saturday. As you will find throughout the quarter, I am a bit of a tech-nerd and am very interested in the use of digital media in the classroom, so we will do quite a bit of this throughout the quarter. With that in mind, I do not have a no electronic devices policy, but I do hope that we can use them in respectful and productive ways (e.g., to aid in class discussion) and avoid some of the more problematic uses (e.g., texting or using Facebook during

class). I will ask you to put them away if it becomes a problem, but I hope that we can have a welcoming environment toward technology. On that same note, you should feel welcome to incorporate digital media into your work at any point in the quarter, and not just during the weeks when we study digital essays specifically. I want us to think of these works not as less important or more important than the traditional print essay, but instead as a different way of presenting our stories. If you would like to do digital media work, please come talk to me early in the quarter so we can talk about my expectations. We all have different learning styles, strengths, weaknesses, and varying abilities. Whether or not your needs are documented with someplace like the Of f ice of Disabilit y Ser v ices, it is my intent to make the classroom an accessible, safe, positive space for all students. Please let me know as early as possible in the term if theres anything I can do to help maximize your participation and access in the course. C l a s s Blog I have set up a course blog at http://w w w.silashansen.net/summer12, which I will invite you all to join as contributors. Participation on the blog is not mandatory, but is strongly encouraged. I would like for this to be a space where we can extend our conversations from class about specific readings or issues that weve addressed (we will not, of course, talk about the content of our classmates essays, however), or where you can post a specific question to generate discussion outside of the classroom. If you are someone who has trouble speaking up in class, participating in the class blog would be an additional way to show me that you are engaged with the material. I will post at least once per week, and I encourage you to read, comment, and post as well. Da i ly S c he du le Day 1: Monday, June 18 In Class: introductions, course overview, read excerpt from Understanding Comics Assignments: read Introduction: Where to Begin and Chapter 1 of Tell It Slant, First by Ryan Van Meter, and Candy Cigarettes by Anne Panning Day 2: Wednesday, June 20 In Class: discuss reading, listen to Lynda Barry interview/in-class activity, writing exercise Assignments: read Chapter 12 and Chapter 13 of Tell It Slant, The Mercy Kill by Joe Oestreich, and Wild Boys. Chicago Boys. Dumb Boys. by Ira Sukrungruang Day 3: Monday, June 25 In Class: discuss reading, begin Writing Assignment #1 Assignments: read Chapter 2 of Tell It Slant, The Love of My Life by Cheryl Strayed, and excerpt from Fun Home by Alison Bechdel Day 4: Wednesday, June 27 In Class: discuss reading, introduction to peer review, continue Writing Assignment #1 Assignments: read Chapter 9 of Tell It Slant, Not From Here by Erin McGraw, and On Being a Cripple by Nancy Mairs Writing Assignment #1 due to Carmen discussion board by 5pm on Friday, June 29

Day 5: Monday, July 2 In Class: discuss reading, discuss Writing Assignment #1, begin Writing Assignment #2 Assignments: read Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 of Tell It Slant, The American Male at Age 10 by Susan Orlean, and Christmas with Karadzik by Joe Sacco Day 6: Monday, July 9 In Class: discuss reading, talk about research, discuss Writing Assignment #1, continue Writing Assignment #2 Assignments: read Research and Creative Nonfiction by Mimi Schwartz, Time and Distance Overcome by Eula Biss, and The Search for Marvin Gardens by John McPhee Day 7: Wednesday, July 11 In Class: discuss reading/research, discuss Writing Assignment #1, continue Writing Assignment #2 Assignments: read Chapter 10 of Tell It Slant, Outline Toward a Theory of Mine Versus the Mind and the Harvard Outline by Ander Monson, and A Short Essay on Being by Jenny Boully Writing Assignment #2 due to Carmen discussion board by 5pm on Friday, July 13 Day 8: Monday, July 16 - meet in Denney 307 In Class: discuss reading, discuss Writing Assignment #2, begin Writing Assignment #3 Assignments: read Chapter 11 of Tell It Slant, Mr. Plimptons Revenge by Dinty W. Moore, and the selection of Twitter essays; watch Ode to Everything (video essay) by John Bresland and Eula Biss Day 9: Wednesday, July 18 - meet in Denney 307 In Class: discuss reading, discuss Writing Assignment #2, continue Writing Assignment #3 Assignments: watch I Stim, Therefore I Am (video essay) by Melanie Yergeau and listen to This American Life #220: Testosterone Day 10: Monday, July 23 - meet in Denney 307 In Class: discuss reading, LAB TIME for Assignment #3 Assignments: read [TBD excerpt from a comic] and Dancing by Lynda Barry, work on Writing Assignment #3, come to individual conference Day 11: Wednesday, July 25 - meet in Denney 307 In Class: discuss reading, talk about Final Portfolio, LAB TIME for Assignment #3 Assignments: begin working on Final Portfolio, come to individual conference Writing Assignment #3 due to Carmen discussion board by 5pm on Friday, July 27 Day 12: Monday, July 30 In Class: discuss Writing Assignment #3 Assignments: read Chapter 16 of Tell It Slant and look at selected literary magazine websites linked on Carmen Day 13: Wednesday, August 1 In Class: talk about publishing and literary magazines, course evaluations, end of term celebration Final Portfolio due to my mailbox in Denney 421 (English Department) by 5pm on Monday, August 6

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