This week in “Course Review”, I’ll be discussing one of my favorite courses of this semester – Creative Nonfiction Writing. When I first registered for this course, I must admit that I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d be learning. As it turns out, this class introduces students to the genre of memoir which involves writing about true events from one’s past. Here is everything else that you need to know about this course:
Name of the course: Creative Nonfiction Writing (ENG 319)
Instructor: Steve Germic
When the class meets: 6:00-8:30 on Tuesday evenings. It is important to note that these times are definitely approximate. Our class has been known to go both early and late depending on how much work needs to be done.
Hardness Level: 3 (out of 5)
Required Materials: There are three required books from this course that the class reads every week. The first is “Story Craft” by Jack Hart which is our guide for how to write Creative Nonfiction. The second is “In Brief” by Judith Kitchen which is a collection of short Creative Nonfiction essays. Lastly, there is “Line by Line” by Claire Cook which is a general reference guide about how to use proper grammar and punctuation. I’ve found “In Brief” to be quite entertaining to read. Meanwhile, both “Story Craft” and “Line by Line” have been very helpful as I write my essays for this course.
Homework: As mentioned above, there are weekly readings. In addition, short Creative Nonfiction essays are due on a biweekly basis.
What you’re graded on: This is where things get interesting because Professor Germic does not believe in grading essays. Thus while you still MUST do the writing assignments, they don’t factor very much into the grade.
Thus, the final grade comes from two main things. The first of these is in-class participation. Everybody is expected to present their essays in front of the class and provide feedback on other people’s essays. They are also required to participate during in-class discussions about the course readings.
The second thing that factors into your final grade is your effort. Professor Germic expects well-written essays and he also expects us to revise our works over the course of the semester. His biggest hope for his students in this class is that they will be better writers at the end of the semester than they were at the beginning. If he doesn’t see this, he will take points off of the student’s final grade.
What you’ll learn: There are two main things you’ll learn from this course: how to write Creative Nonfiction and how to provide constructive feedback to other writers. In addition, you’ll learn about proper grammar, creative writing styles, and the importance of revision.
My thoughts: I have some mixed feelings about this course. On one hand, I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. Not only have I learned a lot, but the relaxed small-group setting encourages discussions and laughter. This is without a doubt one of the most fun and relaxing courses I’ve had this semester.
On the other hand, the two-and-a-half-hour (or longer) class can be pretty exhausting – especially after the end of a long day. In addition I would have preferred if Professor Germic had a more objective way of grading rather than basing it on subjective things like in-class participation or effort. I’d also prefer it if he would grade the papers as well.
My grade: B+