Narrative Nonfiction

Marissa K. Landrigan, Narrative Nonfiction, Fall 2017

Course Description:

We are living in a time of great upheaval. Wherever we sit on the political spectrum, however safe and secure our daily lives seem to be, the ground shifts beneath our feet. We live in a country that is deeply divided, and yet, we occupy a global citizenship that is closer together and more connected than ever before. We are both very near and very far from each other.

I can’t think of a time when writers have been more important.

The beauty and power of narrative is that it can close the widest gaps, bridge the greatest distances. Stories bring us together across race, gender, geography, and politics, across age, landscape, and ideology. Words wield enormous power. That power can be manipulated and misused to produce fear, anger, and resentment, or it can be applied to the act of humanity itself. Our mission in this class will be to explore the connective power of stories, to use our voices to affect the change we wish to see in our world. To bring light to the shadows, to ask the hard questions, to call our readers to action.

In this course, we’ll examine nonfiction from times of conflict and crisis to help us write essays and critiques in which we witness, report, advocate, question, and desire change in our own era. To provide inspiration, we’ll read essays on the Standing Rock protests, gender identity, Black Lives Matter, and other issues. We'll read authors such as Ta-Nehesi Coates, Edwidge Danticat, Claudia Rankine, Anna Holmes, and Luis Alberto Urrea to study their use of formal tools such as narration, observation, analysis, reflection, and argument in exploring avenues of change in the world around them. What stories do we have a right to tell? What stories do we have an obligation to tell? How do writers bring a personal voice to writing a political essay? How do reporters balance opinion and research to show the need for change? We will discuss the role of the narrator and the ideology of objectivity. We will learn and practice the imaginative writing techniques of the novelist alongside the research strategies of any good journalist.

And hopefully, we’ll change the world.

What You'll Need:

- The Fire This Time ed. by Jesmyn Ward (FTT)
- The Devil’s Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea
- A traditional composition notebook for your research journal.
- Cloud storage (if you save your work in only one place, you are courting disaster).
- Access to a reliable printer for other reading materials and your own work.
- Caffeine, paper, passion.


Marissa K. Landrigan, Narrative Nonfiction, Spring 2014

Course Description:

---Need to fill in a pithy short-form description, none available on site, and syllabus is long-form---

Required Texts:

Hidden America, by Jeanne Marie Laskas

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