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David Gessner

CRW 309-001 INTERMEDIATE CREATIVE NONFICTION

E-mail: Gessnerdm@uncw.edu
HOME STRETCH READING AND WORK

*PLEASE SET UP A TIME TO TALK TO ME INDIVIDUALLY.

* PLEASE READ THESE ASSINGMENTS FOR THE CLASS ON THE DATE ABOVE THEM.
Mon Oct 18

PLEASE HAVE READ:

* The Situation and the Story through page 42.

* This includes an analysis of "In Bed" by Joan Didion so please also read this short (3 page) essay that begins on page 689 of Lopate. And the Harry Crews hand-out.
Wed Oct 20

* Gornick 42-52

* Hoagland's "The Courage of Turtles." Pg 657 in Lopate.

* Harry Crews ON E-RESERVE. "Why I Live Where I Live."
Mon Oct 25

* Gornick 52-77

* Ginzburg's "He and I" in Lopate. Pg 423.
Wed Oct 27

* Finish Gornick

* Baldwin "Notes of a Native Son." Pg 587.

Mon Nov 1


Read This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff--through page 85
Wed Nov 3

Wolff--through 178.
Mon Nov 8--Finish Wolff
Wed Nov 10Goat by Brad Land. Through page 71.
Mon Nov 15--Land. Through page 144
Wed Nov 17 Finish Land. I’ll hand out revision exercise.
Mon Nov 22-Mon 29: REVISION EXERCISE!! (FINAL EXERCISE.)
Dec 1–LAST DAY OF CLASSES. FINAL REVISION AND COVER LETTER DUE.

Mon Nov 15

Sept 20
Sept 22


Sept 27
Sept 29

October 25—Lopate TBA


October 27–TBA

Nov 1–TBA

Nov 3–TBA

Nov 8–TBA

Nov 10–TBA

Nov 15–TBA

Nov 17–TBA

Nov 22–TBA

Nov 29–TBA

Dec 1–LAST DAY OF CLASSES. FINAL REVISION AND COVER LETTER DUE.


Additional Workshop Days


This is day you workshop on. Bring in the day before.


Wed Nov 17


Mon Nov 22

Mon Nov 29

This is the Day you will workshop on

bring in 22 copies the class before.


Mon September 27

Wed Sept 29

Wed Oct 6

Mon Oct 11

Wed Oct 13

Workshops

This is the Day you will workshop on

bring in 22 copies the class before.


Mon September 27

Wed Sept 29

Wed Oct 6

Mon Oct 11

Wed Oct 13


Mon Oct 18

Wed Oct 20

Mon Oct 25

Wed Oct 27

Mon Nov 1


Wed Nov 3

Mon Nov 8

Wed Nov 10

Mon Nov 15

MELODRAMA AS PERSONAL DRAMA

What is the "biggest" event that ever happened to you or someone close to you? What is the closest you've come to living inside a movie-of-a-week? Strangely enough, it is often these big events that are the hardest to get across on paper. Maybe, living in our self-conscious age, we feel a little awkward when something really happens....and maybe we fear being melodramatic, as Eggers clearly does, when putting those events on the page.

Write about a big memory that is important to you or someone close to you. (Better yet if this is a memory you may have been afraid to approach) Don't worry so much about getting the memory exactly right or about striking the right tone (for now). Write honestly and simply. Try making it a scene. Slow it down. Draw it out. Show us something happening detail by detail.
For now just focus on getting it down on paper.

EARLY BIRD WORKSHOP SCHEDULE

(2 Max, 1 is fine)

1. Sept 1


2. Sept 8

3. Sept 13


4. Sept 15
5. Sept 20

6. Sept 22

7. Sept 27

NEXT WORKSHOPS


5. Sept 29

6. Oct 4

7. October 6

8. October 11

9. October 13

10.October 18

11. October 20

12. October 25

13.October 27


14. Nov 1

15. Nov 3

16. Nov 8

17. Nov 10

18. Nov 15

19. Nov 17

20. Nov 22

21. Nov 29

Dec 1–LAST DAY OF CLASSES. FINAL REVISION AND COVER LETTER DUE.

David Gessner

CRW 545-FORMS OF NARRATIVE PROSE

WED 6:30-9:15


Course Overview
This course focuses on the history of the essay from Montaigne to the present. We will also explore ways in which the essay has been employed outside the traditional form, and the ways in which supposedly non-traditional writers, such as Dave Eggers, are very much in keeping with the tradition. Assignments will include exercises, original creative prose, extensive reading, and short response papers.
Books:

The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

The Complete Essays of Montaigne Translated by Donald Frame

Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion

Goat by Brad Land


Requirements:
1. A series of short reaction pieces. These will come in several flavors: 1. Pre-assigned questions on the reading (see week one). 2. Questions about the reading to be completed in class (not quizzes, though they may feel like them.) 3. Creative responses (such as imitations.)

These are short (2 double spaced pages tops) and are meant to get you thinking about the reading so we can have a lively and engaged class. Therefore:


2. The main requirement of the class is keeping up with the reading.

3. Instead of a final paper you will be asked to do an oral presentation (20-30 minutes) on a writer. The dual emphasis of this report should be on how the writer fits in the greater tradition and on what particular craft techniques the writer uses. In fact, this will be the emphasis of the class as a whole: getting to know the tradition and seeing what we, as writers, can steal from it.

Attendance:

Consistent attendance is essential. If you are absent without medical excuse more than twice, you are eligible to be officially excluded and failed.


Grading:

50%--Completion of Responses, Reading, Exercises.

25%--Class participation.

25%--Oral Report


Reading:
August 25

Introduction to Course

FOR THIS CLASS PLEASE READ:

Two Introductions.

* Lopate's Introduction in The Art of the Personal Essay. (Feel free to stop at the section called "The Rationale and Argument of This Book.")

* Dave Egger's preface to Staggering. Read through the Roman numerals before the text (up to the drawing of the stapler).


Also please complete the first short response paper. Describe the way in which Egger's intro is--and is not--part of the tradition that Lopate describes. Or, to put it another way, how is his writing new, and how is it traditional?
Sept 1

STARTING AT THE END.

FOR NEXT CLASS PLEASE READ EGGERS THROUGH PAGE 103.
SEPT 8

FOR NEXT CLASS:

EGGERS PG.279
SEPT 15

FOR NEXT CLASS:

EGGERS THROUGH END. (INCLUDING "MISTAKES WE KNEW WE WERE MAKING" [FLIP THE BOOK OVER])
SEPT 22

BACK TO THE SOURCE.

MONTAIGNE INTRODUCTION BY DONALD FRAME IN COMPLETE ESSAYS.

39. "OF SOLITUDE" PG 174

"OF BOOKS" PG.296.
SEPT 29--MONTAIGNE ESSAYS TBA.
OCT 6

LOPATE TBA. THE ENGLISH TRADITION.


OCT 13 NO CLASS. FALL VACATION.

OCT 20--LOPATE TBA. THE ENGLISH TRADITION.

OCT 27--LOPATE TBA. OTHER CULTURES, OTHER CONTINENTS.
NOV 3--LOPATE TBA. THE AMERICAN SCENE.
NOV 10–BRAD LAND’S GOAT.
NOV 17.--DIDION
NOV 24–THANKSGIVING BREAK
DECEMBER 1–FINAL CLASS.
NOV 27. NO CLASS. THANKSGIVING.
DEC 4. LAST CLASS.

For FALL 2004

David Gessner

CRW 309-001 INTERMEDIATE CREATIVE NONFICTION

E-mail: Gessnerdm@uncw.edu

This workshop focuses on writing creative nonfiction, a genre which includes and combines the personal essay, memoir, new journalism, nature writing, and the literature of place.


Books:

Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach

The Situation and the Story by Vivian Gornick

The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate

This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff

Requirements:


1. Two completed nonfiction pieces, one of which will have been substantially revised by the end of the term. A cover letter detailing the process of revision should accompany the final revised piece.
2. Throughout the term we will have occasional writing exercises and short (1 pg.) written responses to the reading. At the end of the term you will hand in a list of exercises/responses completed along with your cover letter.
ADD IF YOU MISS CLASS GET THE ASSIGNMENT FROM A CLASSMATE.

Attendance:

Consistent attendance is essential. If you are absent without medical excuse more than twice, you are eligible to be officially excluded and failed.

The class is primarily a workshop. Due to this, and the need to get an intelligent, thoughtful dialogue going, I will ask that for each piece you read, you give me a copy of the comments that you give to the piece's author.

Grading:

25%--Completion of response pieces, critiques, exercises.

25%--Class participation.

50%--Final essay. Based on both quality and sweat.


Reading:

August 20

Introduction

Autobiographical writing exercise

For next Class please read:

* Scott Russell Sanders, "Under the Influence." p 733 in Lopate

* Joan Didion "Goodbye to All That." 681 in Lopate.
August 27
Roorbach here???
* Lopate's Introduction in The Art of the Personal Essay.

* Richard Rodriguez "Late Victorians." p 756 in Lopate.


September 3
Start Roorbach here!!

Two weeks on Roorbach.


* Read The Situation and the Story through page 42.

* This includes an analysis of "In Bed" by Joan Didion so please also read this short (3 page) essay that begins on page 689 of Lopate.


Sept 10

* Gornick 42-52

* Hoagland's "The Courage of Turtles." Pg 657 in Lopate.

* Harry Crews handout. "Why I Live Where I Live."


Sept 17

* Gornick 52-77

* Ginzburg's "He and I" in Lopate. Pg 423.
Sept 24

* Gornick 77-89

* Baldwin "Notes of a Native Son." Pg 587.
October 1

* Gornick 89-128

October 8

* Finish Gornick

October 15

* Read This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff--through page 85.


October 22

Wolff--through 178.

Craft Exercise.
October 29

Finish Wolff.


November 5

Patrimony by Philip Roth--through page 65.


Nov 12

Roth through 149.


Nov 19

Finish Roth.


Nov 26

NO CLASS THANKSGIVING VACATION


Dec 3

Last Class


Dec 10

Final Projects Due.

David Gessner

CRW 545-001 (43121) FORMS OF NARRATIVE PROSE

Thurs 6:30-9:15
Course Overview
This course focuses on the history of the essay from Montaigne to the present. We will also explore ways in which the essay has been employed outside the traditional form, and the ways in which supposedly non-traditional writers, such as Dave Eggers, are very much in keeping with the tradition. Assignments will include exercises, original creative prose, extensive reading, and short response papers.
Books:

The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

The Complete Essays of Montaigne Translated by Donald Frame

Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion
Requirements:

1. A series of short reaction pieces. These will come in several flavors: 1. Pre-assigned questions on the reading (see week one). 2. Questions about the reading to be completed in class (not quizzes, though they may feel like them.) 3. Creative responses (such as imitations.)

These are short (2 double spaced pages tops) and are meant to get you thinking about the reading so we can have a lively and engaged class. Therefore:

2. The main requirement of the class is keeping up with the reading.
3. Instead of a final paper you will be asked to do an oral presentation (20-30 minutes) on a writer. The dual emphasis of this report should be on how the writer fits in the greater tradition and on what particular craft techniques the writer uses. In fact, this will be the emphasis of the class as a whole: getting to know the tradition and seeing what we, as writers, can steal from it.
Attendance:

Consistent attendance is essential. If you are absent without medical excuse more than twice, you are eligible to be officially excluded and failed.


Grading:

50%--Completion of Responses, Reading, Exercises.

25%--Class participation.

25%--Oral Report


Reading:
August 21

Introduction to Course

FOR NEXT CLASS PLEASE READ:

Two Introductions.

* Lopate's Introduction in The Art of the Personal Essay. (Feel free to stop at the section called "The Rationale and Argument of This Book.")

* Dave Egger's preface to Staggering. Read through the Roman numerals before the text (up to the drawing of the stapler).


Also please complete the first short response paper. Describe the way in which Egger's intro is--and is not--part of the tradition that Lopate describes. Or, to put it another way, how is his writing new, and how is it traditional?
August 28

STARTING AT THE END.

FOR NEXT CLASS PLEASE READ EGGERS THROUGH PAGE 103.
SEPT 4

FOR NEXT CLASS:

EGGERS PG.279
SEPT 11

FOR NEXT CLASS:

EGGERS THROUGH END. (INCLUDING "MISTAKES WE KNEW WE WERE MAKING" [FLIP THE BOOK OVER])

SEPT 18

BACK TO THE SOURCE.

MONTAIGNE INTRODUCTION BY DONALD FRAME IN COMPLETE ESSAYS.

39. "OF SOLITUDE" PG 174

"OF BOOKS" PG.296.

SEPT 25--MONTAIGNE ESSAYS TBA.
OCT 2

LOPATE TBA. THE ENGLISH TRADITION.


OCT 9 NO CLASS. FALL VACATION.
OCT 16--LOPATE TBA. THE ENGLISH TRADITION.
OCT 23--LOPATE TBA. OTHER CULTURES, OTHER CONTINENTS.
OCT 30--LOPATE TBA. THE AMERICAN SCENE.
NOV 6--LOPATE TBA. THE AMERICAN SCENE.
NOV 13.--DIDION
NOV 20.--FINISH DIDION.
NOV 27. NO CLASS. THANKSGIVING.
DEC 4. LAST CLASS.
David Gessner

CRW 550-003 (43308) CREATIVE NONFICTION

Office Hours: Mon 9-10, Wed 5-6:15, Thurs 5-6:15

E-mail: Gessnerdm@uncw.edu


ALL NEW REVISED SYLLABUS
This workshop focuses on writing creative nonfiction, a genre which includes and combines the personal essay, memoir, new journalism, nature writing, and the literature of place.
Books:

The Situation and the Story by Vivian Gornick

The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate

This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff

Patrimony by Philip Roth

Requirements:


1. Two completed nonfiction pieces, one of which will have been substantially revised by the end of the term. A cover letter detailing the process of revision should accompany the final revised piece.
2. Throughout the term we will have occasional writing exercises and short (1 pg.) written responses to the reading. At the end of the term you will hand in a list of exercises/responses completed along with your cover letter.

ADD IF YOU MISS CLASS GET ASSIGNMENT....

Attendance:

Consistent attendance is STILL essential. If you are absent without medical excuse more than twice, you are eligible to be officially excluded and failed.

The class is primarily a workshop. Due to this, and the need to get an intelligent, thoughtful dialogue going, I will ask that for each piece you read, you give me a copy of the comments that you give to the piece's author.

Grading:

25%--Completion of response pieces, critiques, exercises.

25%--Class participation.

50%--Final essay. Based on both quality and sweat.


Reading:

August 20

Introduction

Autobiographical writing exercise

For next Class please read:

* Scott Russell Sanders, "Under the Influence." p 733 in Lopate

* Joan Didion "Goodbye to All That." 681 in Lopate.
August 27

* Lopate's Introduction in The Art of the Personal Essay.

* Richard Rodriguez "Late Victorians." p 756 in Lopate.
September 3

* Read The Situation and the Story through page 42.

* This includes an analysis of "In Bed" by Joan Didion so please also read this short (3 page) essay that begins on page 689 of Lopate.
Sept 10

* Gornick 42-52

* Hoagland's "The Courage of Turtles." Pg 657 in Lopate.

* Harry Crews handout. "Why I Live Where I Live."


Sept 17

* Gornick 52-77

* Ginzburg's "He and I" in Lopate. Pg 423.
Sept 24

* Gornick 77-89

* Baldwin "Notes of a Native Son." Pg 587.
October 1

* Gornick 89-128


October 8

* Finish Gornick

October 15

* Read This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff--through page 85.

October 22

Wolff--through 178.

Craft Exercise.
October 29

Finish Wolff.


November 5

Patrimony by Philip Roth--through page 65.


Nov 12

Roth through 149.


Nov 19

Finish Roth.


Nov 26

NO CLASS THANKSGIVING VACATION


Dec 3

Last Class


Dec 10

Final Projects Due.


David Gessner

HARVARD SUMMER SCHOOL

BEGINNING CREATIVE NONFICTION

SEVER 212


If you haven't had a chance to talk to me yet, let's plan a meeting. Send me an e-mail at Gessner52@hotmail.com

NEXT READING

For Thursday July 24:
Read "Late Victorians" by Richard Rodriguez, pg 771 in Lopate.
Consider how Rodriguez uses the mosaic technique to build up momentum toward the end of the piece. What are the advantages of jumping around? The disadvantages? How does he get across what he wants to say without saying it directly?

For Tuesday July 29:


Read "He and I" by Natalia Ginzburg, pg 423 in Lopate.
Exercise:
Write about a person who was or is important to you in the same style that Ginzburg uses in "He and I." Try making it more than a mere list by selecting the particulars you choose to reveal.

MONDAY JULY 28: DENNIS LEHANE, AUTHOR OF MYSTIC RIVER, READING AT 6 PM. THOMPSON ROOM. BARKER CENTER.

1¾___«________ïÖ__ò_ô_ô_÷_____C:\WORD\NORMAL.STY__________________________________________________HPDJ__________________________* Scott Russell Sanders, "Under the Influence." p 733 in Lopate

IMITATION EXERCISE

Re-read a paragraph of two of the Scott Sanders essay. Then, re-read it again. Let yourself absorb the rhythm of the sentences, the variety, the use of transitions or non-transitions. Without further thought, write a paragraph or two (or more) in the voice of the passage, propelled by the active verbs. Over-do it at first if you like. You can always pare back later. "Excess is preferable to deficiency."--Samuel Johnson. Don't worry about copying, plagiarizing, anything....just write. Try to write in the rhythm of the writer. If it makes it easier, copy the sentence variety and, to some degree, the subject matter: "My Aunt smoked pot...."

Later, if you like you can set to tearing it apart the piece you imitated. What makes it distinct? Voice? If so, how would you categorize that voice? What elements is it made up of? What about other strengths? The characters? The way info presented? Details? The sentence variety and pacing? Read it through a few times with pen in hand and really try to determine where it's strength comes from.

Gessner


Forms

October 30, 2003


Reading for Next Week:
Other Continents, Other Cultures
Natalia Ginzburg p423 "He and I" in Lopate

Carlos Fuentes p432 "How I Started to Write."

Wole Soyinka p454 "Why Do I Fast?"

Creative Exercise (Due Next Week):


Write about a person who was or is important to you in roughly the same style that Ginzburg uses in "He and I." It can be a significant other, but can also be mother, father, brother, sister, friend. Try making it more than a mere list by selecting the particulars you choose to reveal. As usual, try to be as (brutally) honest as possible. But also note Ginzberg's almost scientific distance.

*MAKE COPIES OF NEW SYLLABI


THE EXERCISES WILL WORK. PORTRAIT AND BOOK PROPOSAL.

Workshop Class 2

WE WILL HAVE SOME EXERCISES. ENOUGH PEOPLE CAME UP TO ME AND SAID THEY ARE HELPFULL. I WOULD IMAGINE THEY WILL TAKE UP TWENTY MINUTES, HALF HOUR, TOPS IF YOU ARE JUST DOING THEM TO DO THEM. AND IF THEY GO THEN GO WITH THEM. THEIR PURPOSE IS TO GET YOU WRITING...AND MAYBE, FOR THOSE WITH SET PROJECTS, TO GET YOU GOING INTO NEW AREAS.
WE WILL DO A COUPLE TODAY SINCE THERE SHOULD BE TIME.

1. WRITE A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE DIFFERENT WAYS THAT SANDERS AND DIDION AND SANDERS USE VERBS AND TENSE. HOW DO THEY USE VERBS TO CREATE PACE? HOW DO THEY USE TENSE TO MOVE THROUGH TIME?

IMITATION EXERCISE

Re-read a paragraph of two of the Scott Sanders essay. Then, re-read it again. Let yourself absorb the rhythm of the sentences, the variety, the use of transitions or non-transitions. Without further thought, write a paragraph or two (or more) in the voice of the passage, propelled by the active verbs. Over-do it at first if you like. You can always pare back later. "Excess is preferable to deficiency."--Samuel Johnson. Don't worry about copying, plagiarizing, anything....just write. Try to write in the rhythm of the writer. If it makes it easier, copy the sentence variety and, to some degree, the subject matter: "My Aunt smoked pot...."
Later, if you like you can set to tearing it apart the piece you imitated. What makes it distinct? Voice? If so, how would you categorize that voice? What elements is it made up of? What about other strengths? The characters? The way info presented? Details? The sentence variety and pacing? Read it through a few times with pen in hand and really try to determine where it's strength comes from.

MEMORY AS SCENE

Try to write about a memory that is important to you. It could be an important emotional event in your life or just something that stuck. Don't worry so much about getting the memory exactly right. Write honestly and simply and try to make it a scene. Slow it down. Draw it out. Show us something happening detail by detail. Don't rush or overfill the sentences. Use dialogue and action verbs and don't spend any time telling us what things "mean."
Write the memory in the past tense. Read the first short chapter in Tobias Wolff as an example. Tell it plainly, without frills, and let the material carry it a la Wolff. Try not to color it too much as the narrator. Take it one thing at a time: practice endurance with the scene. Don't give up on it.

COMBINING PLACE AND MEMORY SCENE

Return to the details you dredged up about a particular place and now use those details. Have the first-person narrator (you) walk into that place in the present tense. ("I walk...I see two pear trees...etc.) Then have that place prompt the memory that was our first exercise. This will feel awkward and unnatural at first, and may also come out that way on the page, but forge ahead. Go into that past tense memory and then re-emerge into the present and the place. Play with the transitions and see how you can give it a "natural" feel, despite the obvious artificiality.

FORMS CLASS TWO

An exercise. How to parody and not parody at the same time. He has a serious agenda. What is it? How does he put it ofrth. "Silly ha ha and therefore does not need to be take serioulsy."
Take a genre or better yet a specific trapping of a genre and mock it but at the same time try and get something serious across.....
FIND AN EXERCISE FOR THIS CLASS.

LOPATE INTRODUCTION NOTES

1. intimacy. "The hallmark of the personal essay is its intimacy."

2. unity to human experience. "every man has within himself the entire human condition." by talking about himself he is, to some degree, talking to all of us.


3. personal element--"an open drive toward candor and self-disclosure.'

I. The Conversational Element

1. The mind works by contradcition. Dialogues and dispute with ourslves.
(eggers seems to be in a battle, even in the intro

about the value about what he is doing. He is

alternately defensive, self-mocking, earnest, angry.)
Anticipating the reader's doubts. Pre-emptive strikes.
conversational style to establish intimacy with author.

II. Honesty, Confession, Privacy


Honesty but also a basic skepticism about the possibility of honesty.
Eggers blurting stuff out but then questioning his own motives. Winning sypathy--movie of the week, etc...
Baring a mask...but how much of this can we actually do?

Again a technique of


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