Writing Narratives

This course is concerned with establishing a dialogue between the writing and analysis of narrative which will enable students to become better critics of their own work as well as the work of others. We will look at the fictional as well as the nonfictional narrative. While the primary texts will form the bulwark of the course, from time to time, other material will be circulated among the students by way of class handouts. The class itself will be a combination of seminar, workshopping and in-class writing. In addition, students will have to turn in homework as well as assignments for grading.

Unit 1: Life writing and translating experience into fiction
Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory (Life writing),
Tim O’Brien, ‘The Man I Killed’ (short story)
4 weeks

Unit 2: Fiction
Short stories
Jhumpa Lahiri, ‘Hell-Heaven’
Anton Chekhov, ‘The Lady with the Dog’
Raymond Carver, ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’
Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient
7 weeks

Unit 3: Reportage
John Carlin, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game
3 weeks

Secondary reading:
Sol Stein, Stein on Writing, St Martin’s Griffin, 2000.

A piece of life-writing (2000-2500 words) to be turned in at mid-term
Short story or piece of reportage (2000-2500 words) to be turned in as part of the final portfolio.
With the short story or piece of reportage the student will also submit a critical commentary that will analyse the process of creating the narrative and explain the creative decisions made in the process of composition. This will be turned in as part of the final portfolio
There will be an end-of-semester examination.

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