Fact and Research in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry
This course will explore the complex issues regarding the use of factual material in all forms of creative writing, as well as provide students with practical experience and guidance in various types of research and reporting. The class will begin by trying to pin down the surprisingly enigmatic concepts of “fact” and “truth” and then move on to explore—through readings, discussion, and brief writing assignments—questions such as: What is my obligation to the “truth”? How much should I care about the feelings or reputations of my living subjects? When should I commence research? When should I stop? Are truth and beauty allies or enemies? How do I handle a hostile interview subject? During the first half of the course, students will write brief assignments focused on particular issues regarding the use of fact. The last half of the course will be devoted to workshops of longer pieces—in any form—that the students will write in consultation with the professor. Students will also be instructed in library and Internet research and in libel and copyright law.