WRIT 335: Creative Nonfiction

Forms and Techniques of Short Creative Nonfiction

Next offered

Fall 2020 (online)


Second-year standing. No previous experience in creative nonfiction required. Highly recommended for students in the Department’s creative nonfiction and/or professional writing streams.

Course Description

Writing 335 is a reading-intensive lecture/discussion course that examines the historical and contemporary variety of essay-length nonfiction prose from the perspective of literary forms and techniques. We will read and discuss short prose works, ranging from the Latin precursors of the personal essay to 21st-century magazine features and experimental hybrids. Two writing assignments, an oral presentation, and online blogging exercises will develop your understanding of individual authors’ literary styles, your recognition of general strategies used in various types of nonfiction prose, and your creative ability to apply course concepts in new contexts in your own creative writing.

Course Goals

 The main goals of this third-year writing course are the following:

  • to study the historical precedents of the nonfiction essay;
  • to recognize the variety of contemporary creative nonfiction in Canada and other literary communities;
  • to identify and evaluate the key forms and techniques that authors use in nonfiction prose;
  • to describe the characteristics of any author’s style and then imitate this style in a new context;
  • to explain and discuss the practical application of the principles of nonfiction in an oral presentation and a personal essay;
  • to wrestle with some of the artistic and ethical challenges particular to the genre of creative nonfiction;
  • to leave class with the tools and inspiration to improve your own creative works.
Course Delivery (Fall 2020)

For Fall 2020, I will be teaching WRIT 335 as an all online course using CourseSpaces to host readings, post assignments, do short weekly blog reflections and participate in online class discussions. I will record and short post short lectures outlining various key topics and concepts on a week-by-week basis. Then we will use Zoom to conduct larger group discussions and analysis of specific essays and articles, as well as for short student presentations on assigned essays. Zoom breakout groups and CourseSpaces will also be used to conduct mini-workshops to give and receive feedback on drafts of your written assignments. The two major assignments will be 1) an imitation of a nonfiction author’s unique writing style (6 authors to chose from); 2) a literary essay of your own that demonstrates some of the tools and techniques you learned throughout the course.