English 5860: Advanced Nonfiction Writing
Section 001, 6:30-9:30 Th, Bate 2020, Spring 2004
Professor: Luke Whisnant
Office: Ragsdale 010; phone: 328-6783
Hours: 12:30-3:30 T&Th; 5:30-6:30 W
Building on the principles of Engl 3860, this course is a workshop designed for people who take themselves seriously as writers of nonfiction, with an emphasis on technique, form, structure, and style.
TEXT AND MATERIALS
- Terri Brooks, Words' Worth
- Strunk & White, The Elements of Style
- Specific newspapers and magazines assigned in class
- Course materials accessible at http://core.ecu.edu/engl/whisnantL/5860
The work in this class is not particularly hard, but there is a great deal of it. Stay organized and you should be fine.
Come to class. You get one unexcused absence. After that, your final grade drops one letter grade for each unexcused absence (no kidding). An unexcused absence counts as a zero on a reading quiz, and there are no makeup quizzes.
You MUST not miss workshop deadlines. Even if you're deathly ill, you must email your story to me by 5 PM on the evening it is due. There are no exceptions whatsoever to this policy.
Class starts promptly at 6:30, often with a reading quiz. We cannot stop class and wait for latecomers to finish the quiz. Be here on time. Please do not eat in this classroom (drinks, quietly sipped, are fine).
You should come to class prepared to give good, solid, constructive criticism to your classmates' stories. Give as good as you hope to get. Your written comments are a significant part of your participation grade. I'll be spot-checking these occasionally throughout the semester.
Because we'll have frequent quizzes, it's important to keep up with the reading.
Plagiarism in any form will result in an automatic F for the course, as will any other form of cheating, including turning in work written for another class (such as the Intro to Nonfiction class) or work written by someone else.
Important: Check your email at least twice a week! You are responsible for getting all workshop manuscripts, email assignments, and announcements.
Story Grade ............................ 90%
Participation is based on both your oral commentary and your written critiques on your classmates' stories. Because reading the assignments should be a given in a graduate class, a 100 on a reading quiz counts neither for you nor against you, but a zero will deduct one point from your participation grade.
You will receive a grade from 1-6 on each of your major pieces of writing. If you're not happy with the grade, you may have fourteen days to revise the piece. If you fail to turn in your revision within this time limit, the original grade will stand. You must turn in your graded draft with your rewrite so I can compare the two; otherwise I have no way to judge what you've changed.
MS FORMAT FOR WORKSHOP STORIES
Note Well: To receive credit as one of your three major stories, a workshop manuscript must be at least 2,000 words long. Most word processing programs have a "word count" feature; in Microsoft Word, it's under the "Tools" menu. Put your total word count at the top of your MS.
There are two options for distributing your MSS to the workshop: (1) bring photocopies to class, or (2) email your story to me and I'll distribute it to the class electronically.
For option one (photocopy; due at the beginning of class):
(1) use one inch margins on all sides
(2) use 1.5 spacing (not single or double)
(3) Number pages!!!
(4) Put your name and word count on page 1.
For option two (email): format your story by following 1-4, above, and send it as a MS Word file attachment or an .rtf file email attachment to my ECU address (WhisnantL@mail.ecu.edu) by your 5 PM on the day it's due. IMPORTANT: if you are sending me a file via attachment, the extension must say ".doc" or ".rtf." I cannot open a ".wps" file. If your extension is not "doc" or "rtf," use "Save As" and choose the "doc" or "rtf" format before sending.
GRADING CALCULATION: Story Grade (90 points)
I use the ETS six-point grading scale for writing: 6 = excellent; 5 = good; 4 and 3 are high and low average, respectively; 2 = below average; 1, poor. If you choose to rewrite any pieces, I'll drop the draft grade and count the rewrite grade. Revision is requisite for great writing and is the purpose of workshopping. Even excellent writers usually don't earn an "A" in this class unless they revise at least two stories.
Note Well: Your deadlines are listed below by color. We will go over your story during the meeting following your deadline. Do not miss deadlines! There are no makeup deadlines! WW stands for Terri Brooks's Words' Worth; SW is Strunk & White's The Elements of Style; and HO = handout. Students will take turns bringing in handouts, so each reading will be announced in class the week before it's due.
Jan 15 Welcome; opening remarks on creative nonfiction; deadline signup; policies and procedures.
Jan 22 WW: "Health of Nonfiction," Ch 1, and Ch 8; SW: Part I; stories on HO; Jan 22 issue of USA Today; Blue deadline
Jan 29 Workshop Blue stories; WW: Ch 2; HO readings TBA; Red deadline
Feb 05 Workshop Red stories; WW: Ch 3; HO readings TBA; Green deadline
Feb 12 Workshop Green stories; WW: Ch 4; HO readings TBA ; Yellow deadline
Feb 19 Workshop Yellow stories; WW Ch 5; HO readings TBA; Blue deadline
Feb 26 Workshop Blue stories; SW: Parts II-V; HO readings TBA; Red deadline
Mar 04 Workshop Red stories; WW Ch 6; HO readings TBA; Green deadline
Mar 11 Workshop Green stories; WW Ch 7; HO readings TBA; Yellow deadline
Mar 25 Workshop Yellow stories; WW Ch 8 again; HO readings TBA; Blue deadline
Apr 01 Wkshop Blue stories; WW Ch 9; HO readings TBA; Red deadline
Apr 08 Workshop Red stories; WW Ch 10; HO readings TBA; Green deadline
Apr 15 Workshop Green stories; HO readings TBA; Yellow deadline
Apr 22 Workshop Yellow stories; mopping up; submitting your work for publication
READING DAY: TUE, 27 APR. FINAL EXAM: 6:30 PM, THURSDAY, 29 APR.
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