English 143N

Prose Nonfiction

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2022 Saul, Scott
TTh 9:30-11 Wheeler 301


This course is a nonfiction workshop in which you’ll learn to write about many different types of art and culture, from TV to music and other forms of performance, while also developing your own voice and sensibility on the page as you learn to write about your own life and the lives of others. By the end of the class, you should come away with a working knowledge of how to write reviews, profiles, and autobiographically-shaded essays that engage with a cultural figure, flashpoint, workplace, or landscape.

Our semester will be guided by a few basic questions: What can we demand from culture? What does it mean to love or hate a song, fashion style, TV show, actor, director, performer, artist, athlete, celebrity — or, in this digital age, a platform or an app? How are we changed by our encounters with specific works of art, specific places, specific people? And how do our arguments about a particular work of art, particular artist, particular place, or particular cultural phenomenon connect to broader dreams about politics, freedom, community, and our sense of the possible?

Two special features of the course bear specific mention.

First, we will be guided by the understanding that the art of writing is, in large part, the art of re-writing. The workshopping of your pieces is designed to help you get some fresh perspective on how your earlier drafts play in the minds of your readers—and what might be improved. You are expected to engage in substantial revision of several of the pieces you write for the course, with both first versions and revised versions submitted as part of your end-of-term portfolio.

Second, there’s a digital publication attached to this course: “The Annex” (http://www.medium.com/the-annex). Everyone in the class should consider contributing at least one of their pieces to The Annex (though you should feel to publish pieces elsewhere too, of course—on the Medium platform all rights are retained by the author). It’s anticipated that, before publication on The Annex, each piece will undergo a process of editing and revision.

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