2010-11 Catalog

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Offering Description

Writing the New Journalism - Creative Nonfiction

Fall and Winter quarters

Faculty: Thomas Foote

Fields of Study: communications, field studies, literature and writing

Fall: CRN (Credit) Level 10462 (16) Fr; 10463 (16) So - Sr  Conditions    

Winter: Enrollment Accepting New Students  CRN (Credit) Level 20362 (16) Fr; 20363 (16) So - Sr  Conditions Students wishing to join this program should be prepared to meet the challenge of producing a Creative Nonfiction piece suitable for publication by the end of the quarter.  Incoming students will need to learn how to get the reader's attention using metaphor, simile, detailed description and other literary devices which help drive the narrative. They should expect some additional work in the first few weeks to help integrate them fully into the program.  

Credits: 16(F); 16(W)

Class Standing: Freshmen - Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmenFreshmen - Senior

Offered During: Day


Writers have come to realize that the genre of nonfiction writing can be as colorful and gripping as any piece of fiction. The difference is that nonfiction writers are not burdened with inventing characters, dialogue, plot and description because everything they write about actually happened. Creative Nonfiction writers assemble the facts and events and array them artistically and stylistically, using the descriptive techniques of the fiction writer. They immerse themselves in a venue, set about gathering their facts while demonstrating scrupulous accuracy, and then write an account of what happened in their own voice. The Greyhound Bus Company advertised, “getting there is half the fun.” In the genre of Creative Nonfiction, getting there is all the fun because the reader already knows how the piece ends before it begins. Students will become proficient with the form through intensive fieldwork, research and writing.

We will begin by studying field research methodology in preparation for observational studies in the field designed to teach the difference between looking and truly seeing. Students can’t write and describe something they can’t see clearly. Betty Edwards in Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain writes, “drawing is not really very difficult. Seeing is the problem, or, to be more specific, shifting to a particular way of seeing.” Edwards teaches that if you could see it, you could draw it. Students in this program will do a lot of looking with the goal of eventually seeing what they’re looking at. Like documentary filmmakers, we will pay particular attention to visual metaphor.  Students will conduct field research to learn to pay attention to detail, read and discuss representative examples of the form, and meet weekly in regularly scheduled writing workshop.   Following a period of redrafting and corrections, students will present their final piece to the group in the last week of Fall quarter. They will submit this polished piece for publication in a magazine or journal.  We will read and discuss Creative Nonfiction pieces written by noted authors. A partial book list includes, Into the Wild, by John Krakauer, The Perfect Storm, by Sebastian Junger, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt, Number Our Days, by Barbara Myerhoff. Other readings will be added.

In Winter quarter, we will continue our study of Creative Non-Fiction and sharpen our sensitivity to literary techniques through reading and discussing representative pieces by noted authors such as, Susan Orlean, Mitch Albom, Greg Mortenson and Hunter S. Thompson. Students will spend much of their time working on their individual Major Nonfiction Narrative. This form allows the use of first-person narration, demands careful attention to detail, and requires the writer to be immersed in a subject area over an extended period of time. Students will immerse themselves in a venue of their choice, subject to approval by the faculty, which will provide the subject matter for their Narrative. We will also use the Ethnographic field research techniques of analysis and interpretation to add depth to the narrative. Following a period of redrafting and corrections, students will polish the final piece and send it out for publication.

Maximum Enrollment: 24

Preparatory for studies or careers in: creative writing, creative nonfiction, the humanities, and journalism.

Campus Location: Olympia

Online Learning: No Required Online Learning

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Program Revisions

Date Revision
November 8th, 2010 This program has been extended into winter quarter; the description has been updated.