“Creative nonfiction” … tricks “the reader into going places she would
not normally – because that is exactly how I survived and experienced my own
life.” Olivia Chia-Lin Lee (formerly one of the highest-paid call girls in San
In another story, “The Truth about Cops and Dogs,” Rebecca Skloot
ago, if you’d told me I’d be obsessed with a little old Greek guy and
fantasizing about killing his dogs, I’d have said you were nuts. If you’d said
a little old Greek guy’s pack of eight junkyard dogs had been roaming the
streets of mid-town Manhattan for years attacking people and tearing apart
their dogs while city officials said, Sorry, that’s not our problem, I’d have
called you a conspiracy theorist.
you may be wondering, what is creative nonfiction anyway? How is it different
from regular, old nonfiction. One writer puts it this way:
Creative nonfiction gives the writer more artistic
freedom—not in regard to the truth but in constructing the story. Ultimately,
the primary goal … is to communicate information, just like a reporter, but to
shape it in such a way that it reads like fiction. (Lee Gutkind, 2007)
Objectives & Goals
- To develop your skills of close reading
of literary texts;
- To cultivate your creative writing
skills by modeling work on that of accomplished, more experienced writers;
- To help you understand writing as a
process that involves brainstorming, drafting, revising, editing,
proofreading, and peer-editing;
- To make use of research resources.
accomplish these goals, we will read and write lots of prose that is true to
the facts while being alive and quirky, fun and gripping, compelling and
lyrical. In order to warm up and stoke our own writing fires, we will read
great writing from a wide range of artists. Class time will be highly
interactive: lots of conversation about
the readings, as well as listening and responding, in small groups, to drafts
of each other’s writing. In addition to the actual reading, homework will
entail more dialogue vis a vis online postings of responses to the reading, as
well as thoughtful revisions to your
written work. By the end of the semester, you will have a portfolio of
‘finished’ work (20 pages or so) that you have written, revised many times, and
polished to a high gleam, thanks to our conversation, sustained effort, and the
fearless writing I will encourage you to do in this course.
Required texts (available from
Revolution Books in Puck’s Alley)
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, Alison
Brother, I’m Dying, Edwidge Dandicat
Outliers: the Story of Success, Malcolm
Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the
World Has Never Seen, Christopher McDougall
The Truth of the Matter:
Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction, Dinty Moore
Online Responses 30%
o Journal 10%
o Attendance, Participation
& Discussion 20%
o Portfolio 40%
- Online responses: For each assigned reading, an online
response will be due on our Laulima website by 5AM on the day of class,
unless otherwise noted.
In-class writing exercises. Daily entries outside of class are
highly encouraged and can earn extra credit points.
Participation & Discussion:
during both class and workshop sessions;
Portfolio: This will consist of three parts:
1. A Collection of revised and polished pieces of creative nonfiction, of 12-15 pages
or so, written during the semester.;
2. ALL original
Drafts (with my comments).
To pass the
course, all work must be completed.
Excessive tardinesss and/or absences will affect your
standing in the class as well as your final grade.
You are allowed 3
unexcused absences without penalty.
However, for each unexcused absence beyond that 1 , your final grade
will be reduced by 1 letter grade (ie.,
4 absences/1 letter grade, 5 absences/ 2 letter grades, and so on.) A valid excuse means a doctor’s
note or other written documentation
from an authorizing third party.
Tardiness: 2 unexcused instances are equivalent to 1
unexcused absence. If you come in after
the roll has been taken, it is your responsibility to confirm your attendance
for the day.
assignments: 1-day grace period with 5-point reduction per each late day
following due date.
· No Incompletes
except in emergencies, with the same documentation required as for an excused
All hard copy
must conform to MLA guidelines.
Please keep in
mind that all written work must include appropriate citations when referring to
the work of others, in accordance with the UH policy on plagiarism and
disciplinary action in the UH Manoa Catalog. Any instance of plagiarism will result in an F
for the course.
I will expect
all class activities, including Email and online postings, to be informed by
and conducted with respect for others, including those with views that may be
different than your own.
If you have a
physical (and/or other) handicap and need logistical support to participate in
class, please contact the Kokua Program on campus (telephone 956-7511: Student
Services Center Room 013), and/or let us
know of your situation. All
communications in this regard are confidential.