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

  • To mark PEN International’s centennial, Words Without Borders has published a sampler of works by writers committed to freedom of expression. Algerian novelist and scholar Med MAGANI is among them.

  • A fall harvest of book reviews coming in: of The Others by Sarah BLAU (translated from the Hebrew by Daniella Zamir); of LO Yi-Chin’s Farewell, translated from the Chinese by Jeremy TIANG; of Véronique TADJO’s In the Company of Men

  • A fascinating interview with IWP’s Senior Advisor, professor Peter Nazareth, retired from UI’s English Department in spring 2021, after nearly five decades of teaching.

  • Word reaches us that poet HU Xudong  胡续冬, who also taught comparative and world literatures at Peking University (Beida), specializing in Latin American literatures, passed away unexpectedly. RIP, Hu Xudong…

  • We note with sadness the passing of Hiroshi SAKAGAMI 坂上 弘, whose long novelistic career garnered him major literary and cultural honors. A former president of the Japan Writers’ Association, he was until his retirement also the director of Keio University Press.

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