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WRT 114: Writing Culture

Fall 2016, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30-1:50 p.m.,


Hall of Languages 215

Patrick W. Berry, pwberry@syr.edu, office: HBC 235


office phone: 315-443-1912
office hours: Thursdays, 9:00-11:00 a.m.
and by appointment

Course Overview and Goals


Creative Nonfiction, write Sondra Perl and Mimi Schwartz, is a new
name for an old impulse: to write about the real world with grace,
power, and personal commitment. This course will help you write
confidently and persuasively on a range of topics and across a range of
forms. Well consider the power of narrative, the voice of the writer, the
role of research, and how ones location impacts ones way of knowing.
To write creative nonfiction is to interpret the world. Through
understanding our own lives, we come to understand the role of culture
and society in shaping meaning.
Course readings are available on Blackboard.
In this course, you will
Read and critically engage with creative nonfiction texts representing
a diverse range of topics, subgenres, and perspectives.
Learn about and practice working with conventions and
characteristics of creative nonfiction.
Compose a series of creative nonfiction texts and take them through
the revision process.
Explore relationships between research and creative nonfiction and
learn conventions for incorporating research into your texts.
Develop an awareness of audience and work to construct an ethos
and voice that responds to it.

Experiment with voices, styles, and forms.


Reflect on your writing processes.

Bridge by Flickr Conal Gallagher, CC BY 2.0.

Projects
There will be three types of writing assignments in this course: 1) inclass and at-home creative nonfiction exercises; 2) responses to readings
of works by published authors; and 3) two major writing projects
(approximately 6 pages each or 1,800) that build on the weekly
exercises. Many of these projects will involve workshopping and
revision. At the end of the semester, you will submit a portfolio of your
work.
Grades, Participation, and Attendance
Final grades for the course will be based on the following percentages:
In-class and at-home creative nonfiction exercises (20%)
(Its important that you save all of the work you do over the course
of the semester.)
Responses to readings of works by published authors (20%)
Project #1: Writing a Life (personal essay; 30%)
Project #2: Lyric in Place (a lyric essay on place; 30%)
Exercises and responses will be graded , +, or -. If you receive a
or +, you receive full credit for the assignment. You will receive a letter
grade for projects #1 and #2.
Regular attendance and participation in class are critical to your
success. You will often be asked to write and share writing during class
sessions. Please bring to class a copy (print or digital) of the assigned
reading(s) as well as a paper copy of any assigned writing. If you miss a
class, you are expected to stay current by contacting me and/or speaking
with a classmate. If you miss more than four classes, you will receive a
reduced or failing grade.
Student Writing
Texts written in this course are generally public. You may be asked to
share them with a peer, the class, or me during classroom activities or
for homework. You will also be asked to sign a consent form allowing the
use of your writing for professional development, teacher training, and
classroom instruction within the department of Writing Studies,
Rhetoric, and Composition.
The Writing Center
If you need any help with your writing, the Writing Center
(http://wc.syr.edu) is an excellent resource. Workshop consultants can
help you learn how to improve your writing by offering assistance with

planning, drafting, and revising. This resource is free, and I highly


recommend it. You are also always welcome to utilize my office hours for
help with assignments.

Special Needs and Situations


If you believe that you need accommodations for a disability, please
contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS),
http://disabilityservices.syr.edu, located in Room 309 of 804 University
Avenue, or call (315) 443-4498 for an appointment to discuss your needs
and the process for requesting accommodations. ODS is responsible for
coordinating disability-related accommodations and will issue students
with documented disabilities Accommodation Authorization Letters as
appropriate. Since accommodations may require early planning and
generally are not provided retroactively, please contact ODS as soon as
possible.
Syracuse University and I are committed to your success and to
supporting Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This means
that in general no individual who is otherwise qualified shall be excluded
from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to
discrimination under any program or activity solely by reason of having
a disability. You are also welcome to contact me privately to discuss your
academic needs, although I cannot arrange for disability-related
accommodations.
Academic Honesty
The academic community requires ethical behavior from all of its
participants. For writers, this means that the work we claim as ours
must truly be ours. At the same time, we are not always expected to
come up with new ideas; we often build our thinking on the ideas of
others. We are expected, however, to credit others with their
contributions and to clearly indicate the boundaries of our own thinking.
In cases where academic dishonesty is detected (the fraudulent
submission of anothers work, in whole or part, as your own), you may be
subject to a failing grade for the project or the course, and in the worst
case to academic probation or expulsion. For a more detailed description
of the guidelines for adhering to academic honesty in the College of Arts
and Sciences, go to: http://academicintegrity.syr.edu.
Religious Observance
SUs religious observances policy, found at
http://supolicies.syr.edu/emp_ben/religious_observance.htm, recognizes
the diversity of faiths represented among the campus community and
protects the rights of students, faculty, and staff to observe religious holy
days according to their tradition. Under the policy, students are provided
an opportunity to make up any examination, study, or work requirements
that may be missed due to a religious observance provided they notify
their instructors before the end of the second week of classes. For fall
and spring semesters, an online notification process is available through
MySlice/Student Services/Enrollment/My Religious Observances from
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the first day of class until the end of the second week of class.

Course Schedule (subject to change)

Date

In class

At home (due the following class; writing


activities and readings will be updated
each week.)

WEEK 1
Tuesday,
Aug. 30

Course Introduction

Read Alice Walkers Beauty When the


Other Dancer Is the Self. Take notes on
how Walker deals with time and memory
in this reading.

Getting started
Read Terry Tempest,
Why I Write.

Thurs.,
Sept. 1

Writing, Time, and


Memory
Discuss Walkers Beauty
When the Other Dancer
Is the Self. Read and
discuss Natalie
Goldbergs Six-Word
Memoir.

WEEK 2
Tuesday,
Sept. 6

Writing and the Senses

Thurs.,
Sept. 8

Creative Nonfiction
and Research

Exercise on Writing about


Place

Discuss Sedariss Repeat


After Me.

Write a scene of an early memory,


perhaps one that you come back to again
and again. If you get stuck, keep
repeating the phrase I Remember. Your
scene should be about 600-words.

Read David Sedariss Repeat After Me.


While this piece is about Sedariss sister,
it also tells you something about the
author. Consider what and how you learn
about Sedaris in this essay.
Return to your six-word memoirs
(exercise 3). Pick one and create a
narrative from it. Use the six-word
memoir as your title. Think about issues
of voice and perhaps even humor
(although this is not required). You piece
should be 600-900 words.
Find a photo of yourself, a relative, or a
friend that you might like to write about.
Bring a print or digital copy of it to class.

WEEK 3
Tuesday,
Sept. 13

Photographs

Thurs.,
Sept. 15

Character Sketches
and Preparing for
Conferences

Exercise on Writing with


Photographs

Read and discuss Amy


Tans Mother Tongue

Building on our work in class on writing


about a photograph, Id like you to
submit a document that contains: 1) your
photograph; 2) your narrative inspired by
your photograph (300-600 words); 3)
your partners response to your
photograph; and 4) your reflection on his
or her response (about a paragraph).
Submit your emerging portfolio (writing
exercises 1-8 and reading responses 1-3)
in one file on Blackboard. Note: You will
need to complete exercise 8 for
homework. Submit assignment by
Sunday, 9/19 at 9 p.m.

WEEK 4
Tuesday,
Sept. 20

No class
(individual conferences)

Complete character sketch assignment


(exercise 9) and submit to Blackboard.
Select one piece to sharing during Read
Arounds.

Thurs.,
Sept. 22

Voice and the Every


Day
Discuss Sven Birkertss
Every Day

Exercise 10: Revise one of the essays we


discussed in conference. Consider the
following questions: Is the essay
descriptive? Does it reflect the voice of
the writer? Does it speak to a larger
issue? Your essay should be 1,200-1,500
words. Submit to Blackboard and bring in
a paper copy to class.

Read arounds

WEEK 5
Tuesday
Sept. 27

Peer Workshopping

Complete reading response 5 (Dillard).

Thurs.,
Sept. 29

Objects and Emotions

Building on revision suggestions you


received from me and your peer, submit
1,800 near final draft to Blackboard and
bring a paper copy to class.

Discuss Annie Dillards


Untying the Knot

WEEK 6
Tuesday,
October 4

Self-Assessment and
Copyediting

Final paper due.

Thurs.,
October 6

Felt Sense

Complete Felt Sense assignment.

WEEK 7
Tuesday,
October
11

Revisiting Scenes I

Complete writing exercise 17.

Discuss Goldbergs
What is Writing
Practice? and Susan
Allen Toths Going to the
Movies

Thurs.,
October 13

Revisiting Scenes II

Complete reading response 6.

Friday.,
October 14

Revisit our interviews

WEEK 8
Tuesday,
October 18

Writing Marathon

Attend Nonfiction Reading Series:


Nancy Shermans reading, 2:30-4, HBC
207
Go back to exercise 18. Complete your
four vignettes. Do this is no more than
1,200 words. This is due Tuesday, 10/25.

Thurs.,
October 20

No class

No class

WEEK 9
Tuesday,
October 25

Workshop on Place

Read John McPhees The Search for


Marvin Gardens.

Thurs.,
October 27

Im From A Place
Multimedia
Exploration

Complete Im From A Place multimedia


assignment

WEEK 10
Tuesday,
November
1

Technology workshop

Complete writing prompt #24

Thurs.,
November
3

Unwelcome Places
Discuss Yunte Huangs
Southern Hospitality,
But Not for
Newcomers.
Reading response #
In-class writing prompt
#25
Flash Fiction I

Complete writing prompt #26

Preparing Portfolios;
sharing

Signup for conferences. Submit your


portfolio (writing exercises 1-28 and
reading responses 1-8) in one file on
Blackboard. Note: You will need to
complete exercise 28 for homework.

WEEK 11
Tuesday,
November
8

Thurs.,
November
10

10

WEEK 12
Tuesday,
November
15

Sharing Materials

Thurs.,
November
17
WEEK 13
Tuesday,
November
22

No class
(individual conferences)

Thurs.,
November
24
WEEK 14
Tuesday,
November
29

Thanksgiving Break

Peer Review, Project


#2

Complete final reflection, Writing Prompt


#29.

Thurs.,
December
1

Reflections on the
Writers Life

Prepare blurb for Project #2 using some


of the suggestions we discussed in class.
Your blurb should be paragraph or two.

WEEK 15
Tuesday,
December
6

Sharing of
Blurbs/Course
Reflections

Submit final version of Project #2 by the


end of the day December 8.

Thurs.,
December
8

Editing Workshop

Prepare draft of Project #2. Post to


Blackboard and bring two copies to class.

Thanksgiving Break

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