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Writing Nonfiction on Social Change

Semester and Year SP 2018
Course Number WRTNG-UG1303
Section 001
Instructor Nancy Agabian
Days M
Time 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Units 4
Level U



In this course, we’ll examine nonfiction from times of conflict and crisis to help us write essays and critiques in which we witness, report, advocate, question, and/or desire change in our own era. To provide inspiration, we’ll read essays on 9/11 and its aftermath, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the 2016 election, and other issues. We'll read authors such as Michelle Alexander, Gloria Anzaldua, Ta-Nehesi Coates, Edwidge Danticat, Joan Didion, Carolyn Forche, Kiese Laymon, and George Orwell, to study their use of formal tools such as narration, observation, analysis, reflection, and argument in exploring avenues of change in the world around them. How do writers bring a personal voice to writing a political essay? And how do reporters balance opinion and research to show the need for change? These questions are considered as you write 1) an essay centered on an issue that you care about, and 2) a report that you write from observation about a social or political movement. Finally, writing an argument or advocacy piece on a public debate allows you to incorporate many of the lessons from the semester. Revision is part of our process, guided by peer reviews.

Course Type

Advanced Writing Courses (WRTNG-UG)