Strategies of Writing

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSCC2LA4

Semester and Year Offered: Winter, 2019

Course Coordinator: Belinder Dhanoa

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: The course is open to the MA Literary Art students.

Course Objectives/Description:

The course aims to give the student a strong foundation in non-fiction writing. The course will also provide the foundation for critical analysis of writing, and examine the need to reflect on critical cultural issues.

The course will examine forms of Literary / Narrative Non-fiction through a rigorous engagement with textual analysis, as well as the production of literary non-fiction texts. Forms within this include biography, autobiography, memoir, diary, travel writing, chronicle, meditative, lyric and personal essays and other hybridized forms of the essay. These will be examined through the choices the writer makes while thinking through the relationship between form and content.

The course will also encourage collaborate work, and will produce a book written and edited by the students.

This course requires weekly reading and writing. Each week we will read and respond to the recommended texts and to students’ writing, and address some specific issues about the forms and mechanics of writing. Each student will also be expected to pick a particular form of Narrative Non-fiction, develop and research a topic, and write a semester-end piece in the chosen form. The student will also be expected to submit an annotated bibliography.

The course will be instructed through a combination of lecture based classes, reading and discussions of key theoretical texts and student presentations. The sessions will be conducted on a seminar/workshop model.

Course Outcomes: It is expected that on completion of the course the student will have:

  • Developed the practice of writing within the context of literary creative practice in the chosen form/genre.
  • Developed the ability to use writerly devices effectively.
  • Developed the practice of review and critique of peer writing.
  • Developed an understanding of contemporary literary practice and discourse, and writing in the digital age.
  • Engaged with questions of framing their own work within the larger contexts of literary production.
  • Work toward developing a disciplined practice in writing.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

This course requires a substantial amount of reading and writing. Each week we will read and respond to students' Weekly Writing Exercises and address some specific issues about the mechanics of writing. The activities for each week will include three important steps:

1. Assigned Reading

2. Weekly Writing Exercise

3. Class Discussions and Critique of Assigned Reading and Student Writing.

Module 1: This unit will be a foundation in reflective practice. This unit will have a historical inflection to demonstrate how writers have experimented within specific genres, so that students can understand writing in terms of form, content and practice.

Module 2: Students will generate, shape and edit their own writings. The unit will explore the elements of writing, research, interviewing, editing and revision. This module will encourage a collaborative process, and will result in the making of a book written and edited by the students.

Module 3: This unit will equip a student with the skills required to lead a workshop discussion through identifying the use and efficacy of the various devices and strategies of writing in the assigned readings, including the writings of the students.

Assessment details:

  • Presentation and workshop leadership: 30%. The student will present a chosen text and lead class discussion on it.
  • Weekly writing assignments: 30%. Writing non-fiction in a selected form/genre that is developed through the semester.
  • Final submission with process journal: 40%

Reading List:

Readings through the semester are supplemented by suggestions to individual students directed to their interests with regard to genre, themes, and ideas. Students are also encouraged to suggest texts for discussion.

  • Susan Sontag - At The Same Time : The novelist and moral reasoning, Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 2007
  • Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson – Reading Autobiography, Univ Of Minnesota Press; 2010
  • Samantha Young – Contemporary Historical Fiction, Otherness: Essays and Studies 2.1
  • Walter Benjamin – The Storyteller, NYRB Classics, 2019
  • Boris Groys – Under the Gaze of Theory, Columbia University Press, 2012
  • Patai-Daphne – Theory’s Empire – an Anthology of Dissent, Columbia University Press, 2005
  • Graeme Gilloch, Walter Benjamin – Critical Constellations, Polity; 2013
  • Hayden White – Value of Narrativity
  • Ray Bradbury – Zen In The Art of Writing, Joshua Odell Editions, 1994
  • Anthony Burgess – What is a Novel,
  • Zadie Smith – Feel Free, Penguin Books; Reprint edition, 2019
  • Helen Flavell - Fictocriticism, Affect, Mimesis: Engendering Differences, PhD dissertation, Murdoch University, Perth, 2004
  • David Wood, editor – On Paul Ricoeur – Narrative and Interpretation, Routledge
  • Svetlana Alexievich – Voices from Chernobyl - the Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, Picador; 2006