Master Syllabus

Creative Nonfiction


  1. Course Title: Creative Nonfiction
  2. Course Number: COM215
  3. Course Name: Communications
  4. Credit Hours: 3
  5. Semesters Offered: Spring
  6. Prerequisite: Successful completion of COM 121/122


Creative nonfiction, popularly referred to as the fourth genre, is narrative rooted in truth in real life. While poetry, fiction, and drama are forms that allow their writers to control plot and destiny, creative nonfiction writers must invent only form and style, not circumstance. This course is an introduction to reading and writing creative nonfiction. Students will be introduced to the elements of effective nonfiction prose by reading contemporary models: personal essays, biographical sketches, short pieces of literary journalism, and memoir. Students will develop a portfolio of their own nonfiction prose after a term of consistent writing and revision, ongoing written feedback from the instructor, class discussions, lectures, one-on-one conferences, and weekly writing workshops. Students will hone research skills by creatively integrating primary and secondary sources not only into their narratives but also into reflective descriptions of their portfolios.


Focusing on self and the construction of identity through experience, the writer of nonfiction inevitably grapples with universal elements of human nature like anger, cruelty, glory, virtue, lying, and presumption. By learning to both read and write creative nonfiction, a student gains the opportunity to think critically about the human condition, about identity, and about the universality of human experience.


  1. Compose short works of creative nonfiction ranging in length from 300 to 800 words in length, in effort to practice concepts such as imagery, characterization, dialogue, point-of-view, analogy, voice, style, lyricism, tense, and narrative distance.
  2. Compose one long work of memoir or personal essay (ranging in length from 1500-2500 words) as a culmination of and demonstration of mastery in each of the fiction concepts practiced over the semester.
  3. Use appropriate writing terminology to discuss creative nonfiction writing processes and written texts.
  4. Revise prose fro clarity, form, style, and emotional distance.
  5. Assess the contributions made to the creative nonfiction genre by influential voices of historical and contemporary works.
  6. Compare the various forms of creative nonfiction and their relationship to other genres.
  7. Denote functions of own aesthetic by identifying and explaining techniques borrowed from model readings and developed in workshop and through class exercises and discussion.