Nonfiction Writing Seminar with Elena Passarello

Course Description

This course will address the four key components of Creative Nonfiction: Scene, Commentary, Research, and Form. Over the eight weeks of this course, we will read and discuss a dozen or so published essays, each of which uses those four elements to varied effects. As we read and chat, we'll also try our hand at several short weekly exercises. For the first half of the course, we'll use the prompts to "build" an essay that focuses on people—the self and the family. In the second half, we'll work through another linked series of prompts and essays on the world around us. We will meet weekly in our online video classroom for live lectures and discussion. Each week, four of us will submit what we've been working on to the class for workshopping so we can discuss each writer's process and progress at that particular stage of the term. The course will run from July 12, 2015 to September 6, 2015.


Twenty-four writers hailing from Brazil, Canada, Greece, India, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and Zambia were selected from a pool of 400 applicants to participate in this seminar.

Nonfiction Writing Seminar 2015

24 writers are enrolled in the Nonfiction Writing Seminar with Elena Passarello


Elena PASSARELLO is the author of Let Me Clear My Throat and the forthcoming Animals Strike Curious Poses, both with Sarabande Books. Her essays on music, popular culture, and the natural world have appeared in Slate, Creative Nonfiction, Oxford American, Ninth Letter, Iowa Review, and The Normal School, and in anthologies including After Montaigne and Cat is Art Spelled Wrong. The recipent of a Whiting Award in Nonfiction, Elena teaches in Oregon State University's Creative Writing MFA program.

Happening Now

  • Ranjit Hoskote’s speech at the 2024 Goa Literary Festival addresses the current situation in Gaza.

  • In NY Times, Bina Shah worries about the state of Pakistani—and American—democracy.

  • “I went to [Ayodhya] to think about what it means to be an Indian and a Hindu... ”  A new essay by critic and novelist Chandrahas Choudhury.

  • In the January 2024 iteration of the French/English non-fiction site Frictions, T J Benson writes about “Riding Afrobeats Across the World.” Also new, a next installment in the bilingual series featuring work by students from Paris VIII’s Creative Writing program and the University of Iowa’s NFW program.

  • in NYTimes, Sanam Maher examines a new book about women defending themselves when the justice system in their country won’t.

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