Creative Non-Fiction/Discussion Topic


I wanted to begin the first major writing assignment with something more creative, something that could “loose them up” to writing. We have already done a few low-stakes writing assignments and it has significantly helped them think upon their own writing, as well as having given them potential forms to take up for the assignment. We have and are continuing to look at creative non-fiction pieces which is proving excellent in improving their analytic skills and overall ability to assess writing. So, I am excited to see the ways in which they take to the personal essay form since through class we have identified how the personal essay is both analytic and creative.

Interesting to note, a lot of my students have expressed interest in writing more creatively, too. So I hope this will help hone their own writing goals for the course.

One of my major goals for this assignment, as well as the rest, are to see if as a class we can weld together the idea that writing, no matter analytical or creative, is always an act of creative output, is always a mode of creation. Many of the students have expressed, verbally, as well as through writing, that creative and analytic writing are different forms. In other words, they have noted how the two are mutually exclusive forms. I want to challenge them on that. This challenge seems to interest them and has honestly pushed them to re-imagine their own approach to writing. I’m excited to see where this will lead.

Also, my discussion topic for class has altered, slightly. The questions emerging in class around what is creative and what is analytic have really inspired me to think on creative writing, pedagogy, and the racial imaginary. I found that many of the ways in which we got to that slippery territory of not being able to determine whether “good” writing is analytic, creative, or both, was particularly when we discussed writers of color. This uncertainty about whether there needs to be a distinction between the two has been extremely generative not only for their own writing and thinking, but my own. I’m indebted to their incite and want to see if I can continue fostering these ideas through doing my topic on this.


Comparison & Contrast Essay and Discussion Topic

Cementina Essay I Guidelines

The first major assignment for my 2100 class is a comparison & contrast essay. Our class has been considering songs and music videos as texts for the beginning of the semester. My hope is that these accessible texts will make it easier for the students to become acquainted with rhetorical and literary terms like tone, audience, purpose, diction, etc. Then, when we move on to academic essays, newspaper articles, and creative non-fiction pieces, the students will already feel comfortable with the vocabulary of rhetorical analysis, even if they find some of the content more challenging.¬†Also, the theme of the course is “representation of self in the public sphere,” and I think there is much to say about this topic when considering musicians. For the comparison & contrast paper, the students are being asked to compare and contrast two of the songs we have discussed.

I think students often find thesis statements challenging, so I am interested in any ideas for exercises/activities on thesis statements to help them prepare for the essay. Of course, suggestions of any kind are welcome.

I would like to present on Feminist Pedagogical and Rhetorical Practices. I’m actually not particularly informed on this topic, but it is the one in which I am most interested, so I would love to use this presentation as an opportunity to learn.


First Writing Assignment / Discussion Topic

Creative Nonfiction Writing Assignment:


I borrowed the vast majority of the text of the writing assignment above from Lisa’s first assignment for her 2100 class (thanks, Lisa), including her great example of brainstorming. I tweaked the assignment a little to conform to the slight differences in reading assignments my class has done so far, plus I opened the prompt up to include socioeconomic concerns.

I’m interested in what our seminar thinks about grading rubric and what does (or doesn’t) qualify as “creative nonfiction” for college freshmen. Also, does it make sense to offer them my own corrections and encourage them to revise their papers for a new grade? I want to encourage independent thinking, but I remember advancing my own writing skills by painstakingly working through professors’ comments on my papers in college.

As for discussion topics, I’m on the fence between “Grammar and Style” and “The Past and Future of English Departments,” so if someone else wants to claim one of these, I’m happy to yield.