Writing



Documenting Life, Briefly: Writing Flash Nonfiction
Flash nonfiction, also called the micro-essay, is an increasingly popular genre for nonfiction writers. It allows for experimentation with form, language, style, and voice in ways that are difficult to sustain in longer essays and memoirs. As well, it allows the writer to home in on a particular memory, experience, or feeling. This workshop will explore what it means to be brief in literature, and how flash nonfiction can, within a narrow word count, capture a time, a feeling, or a place in vivid, resonant language. Participants will read and discuss brief nonfiction to explore the authors’ experiences and emotional responses, focusing on form and craft. With prompts provided by the instructor, students will draft several micro-essays (less than 750 words apiece) based on their own experiences, and their emotional responses to those experiences. We will workshop several of the pieces. (12 hours)

Leslie Maxwell is a writer and teacher living in Durham. Her flash nonfiction has appeared in Juked, Blunderbuss Magazine, The Fourth River, Lockjaw, Cheat River Review, and decomP magazinE. Her other writing has appeared in Rappahannock Review, the News & Observer, Walter, and other publications, and is forthcoming in Fourth Genre. Maxwell holds an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University, where she served as the founding nonfiction co-editor of Phoebe: A Journal of Literature and Art. Find her online at lesliemaxwell.com.

Additional Information:
There will be no class March 14.

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WR198FA18
Center for Documentary Studies
CDS Library
Maxwell 10/23 - 11/27 Tu 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM $230.00 View

Introduction to Nature Writing
Many of us read Henry David Thoreau in high school or college. Has nature writing changed since his time? And if so, what does it mean to write about the world around us today? Sometimes writing about nature invites the reader to consider the natural world and their place in it. Other times, nature writing allows the writer to turn his or her focus inward. And other times, nature writing is a catalyst for activism and conservation. This workshop will invite writers of all skill levels to investigate different forms and types of nature writing, as well as the different purposes that nature writing can serve. We will read different kinds of nature writing from several time periods, and produce our own pieces. And, perhaps most importantly, we will spend some time outside. (12 hours/All Levels)

Leslie Maxwell’s flash has appeared in Juked, Blunderbuss Magazine, The Fourth River, Lockjaw, Cheat River Review, and decomP magazinE. Her other writing has appeared in Fourth Genre, the North Carolina Literary Review, Rappahannock Review, the News & Observer, Walter, and other publications. She is a graduate of the MFA program at George Mason University in Virginia, where she also served as cofounding nonfiction editor of Phoebe: A Journal of Literature and Art. Find her online at lesliemaxwell.com.

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WR212FA18
Center for Documentary Studies
CDS Library
Maxwell 10/27 - 10/28 Sa Su 10:00 AM - 05:00 PM $230.00 View

The Nonfiction Story: Beginning to End (Online)


This class explores the rudiments of documentary storytelling, with the goal of taking you from the stage of having an idea to crafting something presentable and publishable. Since all narrative possesses the same formal characteristics regardless of genre, we will study examples of film and audio documentary as well as writing, covering such topics as how to utilize interview testimony; introducing character; foreshadowing; planting a hook; exposition; surface text versus subtext; the problem of pacing; endings and resolution; and revision. The instructor closely monitors your progress and drafts, making sure that by the end of the eighth week your piece is done. Syllabus includes readings by Toni Morrison and Colson Whitehead; episodes from the Criminal and Home of the Brave podcasts; and films by Barbara Kopple and Raoul Peck. (12 hours/All Levels)

Please note: This course is offered in an online format and will not meet at CDS but will instead take place in regularly scheduled virtual sessions.

Benjamin Hedin is a Grammy-nominated film producer and the author of In Search of the Movement: The Struggle for Civil Rights Then and Now. He also edited one of the most widely respected anthologies of music writing, Studio A: The Bob Dylan Reader. His work has been published by the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Slate, the Nation, the Oxford American, the Chicago Tribune, Poets and Writers, and more.

Additional Information:
The class will be conducted online. A late-model computer, fast internet connection, and built-in camera are recommended, though not required. Students with less than optimal hardware or internet connections are welcome to take the course, though it may be difficult to participate fully in virtual meetings.

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WR213oFA18
Center for Documentary Studies
Virtual Classroom
Hedin 10/11 - 12/13 Th 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM $275.00 View