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English 2253 Honors Creative Nonfiction    Spring 2006

Tammie Bob                   Office: 3129b

Phone: 942-3327(Leave message if necessary)                    

Text: Contemporary Creative Nonfiction, I & Eye

Nguyen and Shreve

 

Text Box: Text: Contemporary Creative Nonfiction, I & Eye
Nguyen and Shreve
 

 

E-Mail: bobtam@cdnet.cod.edu                               

 

Web Page: www.tammiebob.com

                                     

Purpose: This course, taught in conjunction with Religious Studies, focuses on constructing narratives that explore relationships to the larger world through lenses of religion, spirituality, ethical values, and identity. Themes may include family and social groups, work, travel, world events, money, art, science, or other areas that interest you. We will examine how writers have dealt with these themes, how they meditate upon their inner world as well as the world around them, how they explore and discover what was once unfamiliar, and how they engage with the ideas of others. As writers, we will enter into these conversations ourselves.

The course will focus on critical readings of creative non-fiction works in terms of their content, style, conventions, and ethics. We will look at writing tools traditionally associated with fiction  and see how they are used to craft non-fiction forms, and how personal experience can be intertwined with first-hand research and secondary sources in creative and compelling ways. We will write our own works of creative non-fiction and work with them in class, in workshops, and in conferences.           

Requirements:

         attendance and participation

         four major written assignments as well as short writing exercises

         responding in writing and orally to one another's writing

         meeting with instructor at least once in an individual conference

         written reflections on process that accompany each draft and revision

 All writing done for this course might be shared with your classmates and should be written with such an awareness of audience in mind.

Forms: (choose four)

Memoir/Personal Essay                                                                                               Profile/reportage                                                                                                           Place/travel/history                                                                                                      

Literary/cultural criticism                                                                                                               

Short Story (fiction)

At least two of the papers must have their inception from ideas/issues/topics raised in the Religious Studies course, although their ultimate direction is up to you. In fact, all forms may be altered or conflated depending on your goals/interests

Writing Assignments

The primary goal of this course is to develop your ability to translate the material of life experience into vivid, reflective, well-organized and persuasive prose that expresses a clear perspective or central idea. By the end of the semester, you will have written about 35 pages of revised prose, as well as a number of reflections and commentaries.

. In your writing for the course, you can draw upon a wide variety of types of experience:

bullet your own life story
bullet life narratives of or interviews with family members, friends, co-workers, and mentors
bullet observed or witnessed experience
bullet experiences that you've read or heard about in books or viewed in films or on television
bullet information that you've researched

You will submit each assignment in a first version (not a "rough draft") and later, in revised form.. The four major assignments, as well as other writing exercises in your reader/writer notebook, are at the center of the course. Each writing assignment builds upon the skills of the previous piece(s) that you've crafted. In each unit, reading assignments and preliminary writing exercises will prepare you for the  piece that you will be crafting. Over the course of the semester, you will receive peer and group critiques to help you revise each piece that you write. Our class will focus on writing as a process of crafting and revising to create works that are lively, clear, engaging and meaningful to a wider audience.

 As the semester ends, you will submit a final portfolio of all four writing assignments, first versions and revisions, and your reflections and analyses of your processes and their successes.

Class Participation and Attendance

To foster a sense of intellectual community, this course is structured as a seminar. Throughout the term, we will examine how motifs and questions of religion, spirituality, faith, inform the work of professional, as well as student, writers. It is crucial that you come to class prepared to offer thoughtful comments on assigned readings as well as helpful feedback to your peers. A vital, ongoing intellectual conversation - about our writing and that of published authors - is at the heart of the course. To be effective as a seminar participant, you will need to complete reading and writing tasks for both courses by their due dates.. Successful class discussions also require tolerance and respect from all of the members of the class.  Creative non-fiction thrives on the open and honest exchange of ideas. This exchange, however, requires trust and respect. To each class you should bring an intelligent, open mind and a tolerant attitude toward the opinions of others, while forming and understanding your own . Please arrive at class on time and bring assigned texts with you.

Writing Workshops

The writing workshop - in which students respond to their peers' essays and stories - is a very important part of the course. For all four major writing assignments, we will have in-class workshops after first versions have been submitted. We will also workshop some shorter pre-draft writing assignments.  For each workshop, you will be asked to read several essays or stories, discuss them in groups with your classmates and sometimes respond to a piece in writing. The ethical norm of our class is that all student writing (including your comments) is considered confidential; you should store other student's works-in-progress in a secure place and not discuss your peer's writing outside the classroom. This ethic enables us to develop the trust and security we need as a small writing community.

Since our class functions as a writing community and the first "public" for your essays and fiction, it is essential that you attend class faithfully. If you have more than two unexcused absences, it will affect your final grade. Three tardies (more than ten minutes) count as an absence.  You don't have to inform me that you will be absent unless you anticipate multiple absences--then let me know ASAP so we can plan what to do.

Commenting and Feedback

 Each piece will be initially submitted as a first version and later, in revised form. In reviewing first versions of your essays and stories, you will get various types of feedback from class members.  I am also available to meet with you to discuss your writing. Only the revised versions are graded. Pre-draft exercises will be acknowledged with a check and/or brief comments. It is important that you submit work on the due date. In the event of a personal or medical emergency, please contact me as soon as possible. Late submission of work without an extension may result in a lowered final grade. To pass the course, all required work must be submitted. Your final grade will reflect the quality of your revised essays, the thoughtfulness of your reader/writer notebook exercises, your attendance, preparation for and participation in class, and your contribution as a reader for your peers.

In commenting on your writing, I will encourage you to:

bullet draw upon life experience to create vivid and readable prose
bullet address an intelligent, public audience in a graceful style
bullet adapt the tools of fiction (setting, character, dialogue) to creative non-fiction
bullet develop your ideas and narratives in an interesting, original and coherent manner
bullet support your arguments with evidence and use sources creatively and appropriately
bullet express yourself clearly in language that uses the conventions of grammar, punctuation, word usage and source citation
bullet experiment with different narrative styles and structures

Manuscript Form

Essays and stories should be typed, double-spaced, on one side of white paper, with margins of about an inch all around. In the upper right-hand corner of page 1, type your name, course title, the date, number and type of assignment (e.g. First Version, Essay #1), single-spaced. Your title should be in upper case, centered and placed about two double spaces beneath this block of information. Paragraph 1 should begin about two double spaces below the title; please number pages!

Faculty Conferences

Over the course of the semester, I am available to meet with you in conferences to discuss a particular piece or more general strategies for improving your writing. ONE conferences is required for the semester, but I'm happy to have more. I will schedule one with you early in the semester. Standing me up at a scheduled conference will count as an absence in the course and frankly may incite unbelievable wrath in a normally calm teacher..

Writing Portfolio

Please keep all four assignments (first versions, critiques,  and all revisions) and my comments together in a writing portfolio. At the end of the semester, with your final revised piece, you will submit your portfolio, together with your process reflections and a final writer's letter.

 Official Policies:

If you have a documented disability or condition that may impair your ability to complete assignments or otherwise satisfy course criteria please talk to me immediately so that we can identify, discuss, and document feasible instructional modifications or accommodations. And in a class that focuses on your own writing, I  hope the subject of plagiarism is moot. Nevertheless, make sure you are familiar with COD's plagiarism policy.

   Grading: The primary basis for your grade in this course will be your writing portfolio. I will not be giving letter grades for individual papers during the course. You will get credit for handing in papers and these papers certainly will get full responses and suggestions for revision from me and from your classmates. During the quarter  you will be able to work on assignments, returning to essays throughout the semester as you continue to learn about becoming a more effective writer. At the end of the semester, you will submit a portfolio of your writing. I will read and evaluate your portfolio as a body of work, including final revisions, early drafts, reflections on writing, and so on, rather than as a series of individual papers. We will discuss the criteria I will use for grading portfolios during the course of the semester.

            Your final portfolio will include:

         Four final revisions of essays, or 30-35 pages of revised writing, and the drafts that preceded those revisions

         Written reflections on the writing experiences involved in creating each essay

         An introduction that reflects on the work included in the portfolio and the writing experiences of the class

         Your reading responses and any journal material you choose to include.

Each final essay in the portfolio will have been submitted for class and teacher review according to set deadlines.. Failure to include all of the work and to meet deadlines throughout the semester will jeopardize your ability to receive a passing grade on the portfolio.

In order to give you a sense of where you stand in the course, you will turn in a brief, less formal mid-semester portfolio which I will give a provisional grade. A provisional grade is not permanent, but will give you a sense where you stand in the course at mid-semester. Your final portfolio grade could be higher or lower, depending on the work you do the rest of the semester.

If at any time during the semester, you have concerns about your grade, you should talk with me immediately.

 Your final grade will be based on:

*Your writing portfolio, including final revisions of your four best essays or best 30-55 pages of writing, earlier drafts of the essays, and written reflections on the essays and your writing processes. 80 percent.

*Participation in class discussions of readings and papers, reading responses, attendance of class sessions and conferences. 20 percent.

 

            There are no dull subjects. There are only dull writers.

                                                          ~H.L. Mencken