Nonfiction Laboratory

This is a course from a previous year. View the current courses

This course is for students who want to break free of the conventions of the traditional essay and memoir and discover a broader range of narrative and stylistic possibilities available to nonfiction writers. During the first half of the semester, the class will read and discuss examples of formally innovative—or “experimental”—nonfiction that will serve as the inspiration for brief assignments. Completed assignments will also be read aloud and discussed each week. During the second half of the semester, students will workshop longer pieces that they will have written in consultation with the instructor as part of their conference work. While the primary goal of this course is to help students find new and inspiring ways of expressing themselves in writing, we will also attempt to answer, in an entirely nondogmatic fashion, three overlapping questions: Why would anyone want to write such unconventional stuff? What happens when you do? How can you tell when a nonfiction “experiment” has succeeded?