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Viewing: ENG 281 : Introduction to Creative Nonfiction

Last approved: Sat, 11 Apr 2015 09:21:25 GMT

Last edit: Fri, 10 Apr 2015 13:13:06 GMT

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ENG (English)
Dual-Level Course
Cross-listed Course
Introduction to Creative Nonfiction
Intro to Creative Nonfiction
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
English (16ENG)
Term Offering
Fall, Spring and Summer
Offered Every Year
Fall 2015
Previously taught as Special Topics?
Course Delivery
Face-to-Face (On Campus)

Grading Method
Letter Grade Only
Contact Hours
(Per Week)
Component TypeContact Hours
Course Attribute(s)

If your course includes any of the following competencies, check all that apply.
University Competencies

Course Is Repeatable for Credit
Wilton Barnhardt and Catherine Warren

Open when course_delivery = campus OR course_delivery = blended OR course_delivery = flip
Enrollment ComponentPer SemesterPer SectionMultiple Sections?Comments
Open when course_delivery = distance OR course_delivery = online OR course_delivery = remote
Prerequisite: ENG 101

Is the course required or an elective for a Curriculum?
This is an introductory course that will instruct students in writing, editing and appreciating the professional nonfiction one finds in magazines, on issue-oriented websites, and in general interest publications, from the New Yorker-style long article to the personal columns one finds on online media outlets: writing about an issue or event in a personal, stylish way while obtaining the rigor of journalism in scrupulous research and clarity. In an ever-enlarging media universe, this is the most visible and commercial of all the creative writing genres.

Since 2007, the Creative Writing program has offered ENG 381, which has been the sole course for Creative Nonfiction or long-form article journalism. (“Creative Nonfiction” means the sort of longer articles one finds in the Atlantic Magazine, online sites of the and variety, the in-depth pieces one reads in the Sunday features section of major newspapers.) This course has always been full or nearly full. Particularly when offered in the evening, it has drawn writers from the News & Observer, bloggers, and professional older students who hoped to enhance their skills in writing for the public, to learn how to treat stories at greater length and sophistication. And the course has also drawn undergraduates eager to begin an exploration of writing. Aside from the seasoned nontraditional students, even the range of experience (and inexperience) between seniors with five+ courses of creative writing/ journalism behind them and the sophomores just starting out, has made the course unwieldy. We should have an introductory course (which engages in more exercises, more reading, and a shorter final project), followed by our existing ENG 381, which can be for those gifted or very interested in nonfiction, requiring a longer piece of publication quality. 

            Indeed, NC State’s creative writing program is virtually alone in not having made this distinction; some examples:

  • UNC-Chapel Hill offers an Intro to Creative Nonfiction (ENG 138) with a rotating threesome of follow-ups (ENG 208) which might be memoir, narrative nonfiction, and nature/travel writing.

  • UNC-Wilmington offers an Intro (CW 209) followed by an array of intermediate nonfiction follow-ups (CW 320, 322, 324) respectively, editing, narrative nonfiction, special topics in publishing; there is an every-so-often ENG 496 for advanced nonfiction.

  • UNC-Greensboro offers an Intro (ENG 219) which serves journalism and creative nonfiction, and also has a variety of follow-on courses, including ENG 320, Journalism III: Feature Writing, and ENG 323, Literary Nonfiction.

  • Most of the state’s writing programs follow this pattern of an introductory course at the 200-level, followed by a regular choice of 300-level courses in Creative Nonfiction; i.e., Appalachian State regularly offers ENG 3663 Advanced Creative Nonfiction (toward the personal essay) and ENG 3680 Literary Journalism (for more topic-oriented articles); UNC-Asheville follows their 200-level requirement with ENG 366 and ENG 466, Creative Nonfiction, intermediate and advanced.


Is this a GEP Course?
GEP Categories

Humanities Open when gep_category = HUM
Each course in the Humanities category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Mathematical Sciences Open when gep_category = MATH
Each course in the Mathematial Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Natural Sciences Open when gep_category = NATSCI
Each course in the Natural Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:




Social Sciences Open when gep_category = SOCSCI
Each course in the Social Sciences category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Interdisciplinary Perspectives Open when gep_category = INTERDISC
Each course in the Interdisciplinary Perspectives category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:








Visual & Performing Arts Open when gep_category = VPA
Each course in the Visual and Performing Arts category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:






Health and Exercise Studies Open when gep_category = HES
Each course in the Health and Exercise Studies category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to:








Global Knowledge Open when gep_category = GLOBAL
Each course in the Global Knowledge category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve objective #1 plus at least one of objectives 2, 3, and 4:


Please complete at least 1 of the following student objectives.






US Diversity Open when gep_category = USDIV
Each course in the US Diversity category of the General Education Program will provide instruction and guidance that help students to achieve at least 2 of the following objectives:
Please complete at least 2 of the following student objectives.








Requisites and Scheduling
a. If seats are restricted, describe the restrictions being applied.

b. Is this restriction listed in the course catalog description for the course?

List all course pre-requisites, co-requisites, and restrictive statements (ex: Jr standing; Chemistry majors only). If none, state none.

List any discipline specific background or skills that a student is expected to have prior to taking this course. If none, state none. (ex: ability to analyze historical text; prepare a lesson plan)

Additional Information
Complete the following 3 questions or attach a syllabus that includes this information. If a 400-level or dual level course, a syllabus is required.
Title and author of any required text or publications.

Major topics to be covered and required readings including laboratory and studio topics.

List any required field trips, out of class activities, and/or guest speakers.

New hire in creative writing allows offering class on an on-going basis.

Student Learning Outcomes

By the course’s completion, students will be able to

   1.  Create and write short nonfiction pieces to literary and journalistic standards

   2.  Analyze exemplary nonfiction articles

   3.  Research and edit one’s article to the level of professional scrutiny

Evaluation MethodWeighting/Points for EachDetails
Attendance20Loss of more than one class without a medical or acceptable excuse is cause for your grade to suffer.
Participation20Class participation will be measured by completion of in-class exercises, regularly speaking in class discussions, or having something to contribute when called upon. (Greater weight can be given to written responses to exercises and peer's work, if the student has difficulty in public speaking.)
Written Assignment20the short article is 20%
Other40The four exercises comprise 40% of your grade (10% apiece)
TopicTime Devoted to Each TopicActivity
Introduction, the market place, writing work1 weekRead in class: John Jeremiah Sullvian’s “The Final Comeback of Axl Rose” and discuss.
Homework: Read Ann Daum’s “Those Who Stay”

Assignment: PLACE Exercise, your hometown (or most familiar small town)
Discussion of PLACE & exercises. Readings, class handouts1 WeekDiscussion of PLACE & exercises. Readings, class handouts:

Willa Cather on New Mexico, Mary McCarthy on Venice, Jose Saramago on Portugal, E.M. Forster on the Marabar Caves (Passage to India). Annie Dillard’s “Total Eclipse.”

Discuss Ann Daum’s “Those Who Stay”
PLACE exercises3 weeksstudents must bring in copies for everyone. Students 1-6; Assignment: OBITUARY Exercise
DUE Week 6

[Let us pretend you are writing the obituaries for the Times of London, or an editorial upon the passing of someone for The Independent or a partisan magazine, National Review or The Nation. We will kill off someone that is alive and well and you can reflect and sum up, mordantly in the British fashion, upon his or her life, as in the obituary examples in class. The obituaries—chosen by you from a bag of possibilities—must be factual, but you are allowed to project an opinion. See how persuasive you can make it. See if you can find the shape, the essence of the life lived. No more than four pages.
Finish PLACE exercises, Students 14-21. Readings from: John Jeremiah Sullivan, “Mr. Lytle: An Essay” Also: Wilton Barnhardt on Luciano Pavarotti.

OBITUARY exercises, Students 13-7. Read in class: 3 weeksOBITUARY exercises, Students 13-7.
Read in class: Lee Smith’s “Goodbye to the Sunset Man”

Assignment: INTERVIEW Exercise, Due week nine
You will draw from a hat a name of an organization or a series of names associated with an art or science. You must contact one and conduct an interview upon the topic of the most interesting/rewarding aspect of their work. Include some context about their credentials and life story to make the current conversation come alive.
OBITUARY exercises, Students 21-14.
Read in class: Terry Castle on Susan Sontag
Some discussion of personal essays. Handouts and e-reserves:
Fitzgerald’s “The Crack Up.” Robert Graves’ and Joan Didion’s (same titled essay) “Goodbye to All That.” George Orwell’s “Such, Such were The Joys.” Geoffrey Wolff’s “A Day at the Beach.” JoAnn Beard’s “The Boys of My Youth.” Scott Russell Sanders’ “Under the Influence.”

INTERVIEW exercises Some discussion of issue/advocacy essays3 weeksPROPOSALS for your short article due to me.

INTERVIEW exercises, Students 14-21

Some discussion of issue/advocacy essays. Handouts and e-reserves:
James Baldwin “The Fire Next Time” and Randall Kenan’s “The Fire This Time,” and Joan Didion’s “White Album.” Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” and excerpt’s from Kate Millet’s “Sexual Politics” and Germaine Greer’s “Sex and Destiny.” Marina Warner’s “Alone of All her Sex.”

INTERVIEW exercises, Students 1-6

Finish up INTERVIEWS, Students 7-13

Assignment: EXPLANATION Exercise - due week 12

[Like the Science writer for The Daily Beast of Huffingtonpost, you have only 1500 words to explain to a general readership an exceedingly complex, difficult concept from the worlds of physics, medicine, economics, linguistics, etc., that you will pick out of a hat. We will read your explanation aloud and when anyone is confused, they will raise their hand. We’ll see if anyone gets to the end with no hands raised. This is not unlike the sort of assignment you can be assured of in life—no article that goes in-depth will be deprived of explanations and complicated matter that must be presented to a general public. Nor am I giving you a lot of time to do it—also like real life…]

EXPLANATION exercises3 weeksEXPLANATION exercises, Students 1-10

Finish EXPLANATION exercise, Students 11-20

Snow day, make-up class, valedictions and advice

n51ls801 (Wed, 18 Feb 2015 16:43:01 GMT): See added attachments.
gmneugeb (Wed, 18 Mar 2015 17:48:00 GMT): Rollback: Accidentally approved too far. Ready for UCCC chair signature.
gmneugeb (Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:42:35 GMT): Rollback: Needs to be signed off by Dr. Kirby.
Key: 7139