WRITE300-21B (HAM)

Creative Writing: Creative Non-fiction

15 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
School of Arts


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: alexandra.cullen@waikato.ac.nz

Placement/WIL Coordinator(s)


Student Representative(s)

Lab Technician(s)


: anne.ferrier-watson@waikato.ac.nz

You can contact staff by:

  • Calling +64 7 838 4466 select option 1, then enter the extension.
  • Extensions starting with 4, 5, 9 or 3 can also be direct dialled:
    • For extensions starting with 4: dial +64 7 838 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 5: dial +64 7 858 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 9: dial +64 7 837 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 3: dial +64 7 2620 + the last 3 digits of the extension e.g. 3123 = +64 7 262 0123.
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Paper Description

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This course explores the key elements of creative non-fiction writing, engaging with a variety of non-fiction texts including memoir, biography, the personal/lyric essay, and auto/biographical meta-fiction.
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Paper Structure

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Each lecture will explore concepts, techniques, and structures central to dynamic creative non-fiction, examining these elements in action through close analysis of selected texts. Intensive workshop exercises then stimulate the student to apply these discoveries to their own writing, challenging them to experiment with aspects of creative non-fiction through direct engagement with the page. Work-in-progress generated by these exercises will be regularly presented for constructive critique within class, producing a portfolio for final assessment.

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to:

  • demonstrate familiarity with some of the major genres of creative non-fiction writing, including poetry, memoir, the creative non-fiction essay, the personal essay, biography and the nonfiction novel.
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • gain awareness of key structures of creative non-fiction writing – such as imagery, voice, setting, point of view, pacing, form and style – and an ability to target and strengthen these facets in their own creative writing.
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • gain the ability to ‘read like a writer,’ working closely with selected texts to identify and analyse creative techniques central to producing powerful creative non-fiction.
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • gain the ability to exercise their own creative energy through interaction with writing prompts, tasks and models based on connected texts.
    Linked to the following assessments:
  • increase their creative workshop skills for peer review, and for critiquing their own and others’ work in progress.
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  • gain the ability to revise and proofread their creative work, responding to constructive critique from workshop feedback, and developing an awareness of substantive and structural editing.
    Linked to the following assessments:
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Students are expected to complete all assessment modules for the completion of this paper.

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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Assessment One: 2 pieces of Work, Prose or Poetry
16 Aug 2021
4:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Assessment Two: 2000 word prose
20 Sep 2021
4:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
3. Regular weekly submission of work-in-progress for class critique
4. Final Portfolio
19 Oct 2021
4:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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Prose Texts:

Hilary Mantel Giving Up the Ghost

Julia Blackburn The Book of Colour

(Available from Bennetts Bookshop on Campus)

Selected hand-outs detailing workshop exercises will be made available on Moodle each week. The online reading list contains extracts from the following:

Virginia Woolf Moments of Being

Jean-Dominique Bauby The Diving-Bell & the Butterfly

John D’Agata & Jim Fingal The Lifespan of a Fact

Rick Moody The Black Veil: A Memoir

Paul Lisicky 'A Weedy Garden'

Peter Trachtenberg Seven Tattoos: A Memoir in the Flesh

Leslie Jamison The Empathy Exams

Nam Le The Boat

Chris Tse How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes

Robert McLiam Wilson ‘1989’

Sebastian Junger A Death in Belmont

Jonathan Franzen ‘My Father’s Brain’

Gerald N. Callahan ‘Chimera’

Brian Doyle 'Being Brians'

Marianne Apostolides Voluptuous Pleasure: The Truth about the Writing Life

Glenn Colquhoun How We Fell (a love story)

Carol Ann Duffy Rapture

Philip Lopate Portrait of my Body

Alice Sebold Lucky

Tim O’Brien The Things They Carried

Tim Winton 'In the Shadow of the Hospital'

Helen Macdonald, H is for Hawk

Philip Roth Patrimony

Catherine Chidgey In a Fishbone Church

Dave Eggers A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Jenny Lawson Let's Pretend This Never Happened

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Online Support

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There is an online Moodle community for this course. Moodle can be accessed via iWaikato. Selected lecture material, tutorial exercises, assignment details, important dates and the paper outline are all available from this site.

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The expected workload for this paper is 3 hours per week of class time over the 12 teaching weeks, and 7.6 hours per week of self-directed study over the 15 weeks until 19 October (when the final assessment is due).

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Linkages to Other Papers

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WRITE202-20B Creative Writing: Voice and Image

ENGL546-20A Creative Writing: Writing and Embodiment

WRITE203-20G Special Topic in Creative Writing: Inspiring Work

WRITE501-20A Writing for Publication

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Restricted papers: ENGL314

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