ENGB63: Creative Writing: Nonfiction I

ENGB63: Creative Writing: Nonfiction I



Course Name: Creative Writing: Nonfiction I

“The Literature of Fact: Mind-Stretching, Life-Enhancing Adventures in the Fourth Genre

Instructor: Prof. Andrew Westoll

Course Description: ENGB63 is a creative writing workshop course in which you will learn how to write compelling true stories about your life, the lives of others, and the world around you.

No literary genre demands a deeper engagement with the world, or engenders more controversy for it, than creative nonfiction. The problem begins with its name: what other genre is defined by what it isn’t? Creative nonfiction has been called many things – narrative nonfiction, literary journalism, personal essay, memoir, the fourth genre. Writer John McPhee, one of the preeminent practitioners of the form, calls creative nonfiction “the literature of fact,” and for our purposes this is the best way to sum it up. Because no matter the label all good creative nonfiction shares one key characteristic: the story being told must be true. This workshop course will introduce you to the diversity of styles, techniques and obstacles common to CNF. Through weekly readings and craft exercises, original writing submissions and constructive workshops sessions you will learn to compose your own works of CNF and gain the confidence to begin transforming true happenings into true prose. You will also have learned the truth behind writer Katherine Boo’s observation: that the hard work of creative nonfiction, although discomforting at times, can be “mind-stretching, life-enhancing, slap-up fun.”

Course Features & Delivery: The main themes explored include truth, experience, character, voice, the moral responsibility of the writer. The coursework will include story submissions, weekly writing exercises, constructive feedback, and participation. ENGB63 will be delivered synchronously (live) online.

Prerequisite: You need to have completed ENGA03 and successfully applied to the Major or Minor program in Creative Writing (click for program details). If you are a non-first year student and would like to apply for ENGB63, please email 5-10 pages of non-fiction, fiction, or other prose writing to andrew.westoll@utoronto.ca. Please include your student number.

Learn more about Prof. Westoll's teaching and research, as well as how to contact him with any questions.


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You can also check for specific D-level seminar topics or for Pre-1900 courses.