Nonfiction Workshop

ENG 613D Nonfiction Writing Graduate Workshop 

Laurel Fantauzzo  Wed, 3:30-6 pm

This workshop delves into long readings and the creation of original true stories. Students will grapple with landmark works of creative nonfiction while writing and revising their own nonfiction pieces. We will practice a method of Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process for workshop, in which the writer can question and respond to readers through structured conversations.

Over the course of the semester, we’ll learn methods of telling true stories. We’ll also interrogate the word “true.” Each week, we’ll look at a different nonfiction form or challenge and how we might adapt it for our own purposes. We will be sensitive readers, listeners, and critical observers. With readings, discussions, and in-class writing exercises, we’ll create a supportive, curious environment to explore our concerns and shape them into compelling nonfiction on the page.

Writers will deepen their engagement with the different forms inside the genre, covering literary journalism, memoir, the hermit crab essay, lyric essay, the graphic essay, oral history, and more. By engaging your own rigorous reading and writing practice, Advanced Nonfiction aims to prepare you for the philosophical and practical considerations of the writing life within the genre.


One 2,000 to 3,500 word nonfiction piece, submitted in three drafts (first, revised, and final).

In-class, handwritten, generative assignments.

Attending one live reading.

Correspondence with, and presentation on, a practicing nonfiction writer.

Facilitating Discussion: each student is responsible for leading part of one class discussion of the week’s readings.

Participation and attendance.

Printing out pieces and preparing questions for workshop.


Class Contributions 35%: In-class exercises, leading reading discussions, contributing to class conversations, responses to your colleagues’ writing, your presentations on a nonfiction writer.

Workshop Writing 30%

Workshop Writing Revisions 20%

Final Portfolio 10%

Attending one reading 5%

Required Reading:

What It Is, by Lynda Barry. We will decide on the final required readings of the syllabus collaboratively, by the first week of class. I will also provide a course reader with many PDFs of texts by authors such as Katherine Boo, Grace Talusan, Edwidge Danticat, Svetlana Alexievich, and others.

Student Learning Outcomes:

Foundational knowledge and skills:

Explore the cultural context and broader significance of the genre.

Interpret nonfiction works in a variety of media through close reading.
Engage the reading and writing of others in active, critical ways.

Write, critique, and revise works of original nonfiction on deadline.

Practice editorial curation.

Transformative and experiential goals:

Identify the detail, intention, execution, and possibilities of individual creative nonfiction works across cultures and eras.

Cultivate critical reflection while acknowledging your individual feeling.

Discern and articulate your own ethics and aesthetics within the genre.

Converse with contemporary authors of nonfiction.