Monday, 6:30-9:20 PM
The “personal” essay dates back to Montaigne, maybe beyond. However, in the 1950s, 1960s, and later, in the US, in the hands of some writers, such essays began to meld the techniques of journalism and fiction in ways that had not often been seen. By the 1970s or so, such writing was taking on new labels: e.g., “New Journalism” and “Parajournalism.” Eventually, as a generic term, “Creative Nonfiction” prospered.
We shall be trying to trace a bit of the history of the genre, identify its alleged characteristics, and investigate a series of works that have been associated with the CNF label.
Additional information about course objectives can be found on the department webpage, http://libarts.mwsu.edu/english/.
Members will attend regularly, prepared to participate in the ongoing discussion. Written projects will be begun early and polished to graduate-school standards.
The grade will be created from the following elements:
1. Preparations (up to 10 pts.) Each week, I will assign a set of preparations for our next meeting. At the beginning of each class, I will stamp any preparations that are complete. At term's end, each stamped set will be worth one point. Incomplete, unstamped preps, will not score points.
2. Participation (up to 20 pts—1 point per response.) I will ask that you keep a brief log (sample form attached; or you can turn in a typed list), noting, after each evening's work, your participation. What questions did you pose? What discussions did you support? We all sometimes will listen more than we speak, of course. But please be accumulating a log that you can hand to me at class's end. In it, be prepared to describe for me how (at least twenty times) you spoke to issues raised in class, answering questions, asking them, making comments. . . . List your responses, please, by evening date.
3. Teaching Notes (up to 30 points, total: 1-5 points for each set, up to 6 authors) While reading through the application texts, please be taking notes. As requested by due date, then, please supply me with a typed, double-spaced list in which you present those style issues and thematic concerns that you think are key to defining each text’s distinctive version of CNF. Offer samples to establish your claims. For each text, please try to be creating about a two-page bundle of basic teaching notes. Include those elements that you think you would need prepared to offer a one-day lesson about the writer at the sophomore level. At class's end, this portfolio, fully assembled, will offer you an invaluable tool if you ever have to present these writers in sections of your own.
4. Seminar Paper (40 pts) Each member will develop a typed, double-spaced analytical essay that accomplishes the task described below. During the final two sessions, class members will present a brief (5 to10 minutes) oral summation (not a complete reading) of their papers to the group (I will offer a sign-up sheet, later in the term). The written paper will be graded as an essay. But, this is NOT a class in public speaking, so the talk will be graded according to its organization and completeness. Please work from an outline that you can supply, before class, on the evening of your talk. Points: 0-30 for the paper; 0-10 for the presentation, and discussion. Length of written paper: c. 10 typed pages plus “Works Cited” section.
Task Please pick one:
A. Investigate a five-page (or so) section of a text you have read outside this class’s work. The author should be someone who has been labeled a writer of CNF. Photocopy and annotate that section, to be turned in with your essay. Then, compose an MLA-style essay in which you accomplish the following:
1. Offer a brief introduction to the text. Then tell me how it fits into the writer’s career. Explain, briefly, how critics have reacted to the text.
2. Then, analyze what you believe to be the key elements of the writer’s CNF association, as expressed in the section of the text.
B. Same general task, but focus on a writer outside the US whose prose displays CNF characteristics. Educate your reader about what CNF is called and what reputation it has garnered in the writer’s culture.
C. Generate a ten-page CNF essay of your own that mirrors the style and interests of one of the writers we will study. At essay’s end, summarize (for at least two pages) how and why your work has roots in the other writer’s work. Cite specific qualities, techniques, attitudes that link your work and the referenced writer. Length for this choice: c. 12 pages plus “WC.”
As with choices A and B, this essay should be heavily revised and begun early in the term.
In this class, the following numerical equivalents for final grades are used: A = 100-90%; B = 89-80%; C = 79-70%; D = 69-60%; F = 59-0%. For grade sources, see above, “Course Requirements.”
Unless arrangements are made, no late work can be taken.
Regular attendance and participation will be expected. After the first cut, each additional cut can lower the final mark one grade. Two late arrivals count together as one cut. Exceptions will be made ONLY for certifiable illnesses or for "authorized" absence, specifically as described in the university Catalog.
See "Being Old-Fashioned" sheet supplied in class.