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English 3903 - Creative Writing: Non-Fiction

English 3903 is an introductory course in creative non-fiction, a broad term that takes in personal essay, travel, memoir, personal journalism, and more. Students will learn about the craft (technique) and art of writing creative non-fiction.

Discussion in this seminar course will focus on examples of excellent published creative non-fiction and on the students’ own work (excellent, too, perhaps!), which they will submit on a regular basis.

English 3903 is designed to help students write, and write well, in the genre of creative non-fiction, and to develop an appreciation of the genre.


Marjorie Doyle is the author of three books of non-fiction. The most recent (2005) is
Reels, Rock and Rosaries: Confessions of a Newfoundland Musician. A former columnist with the Globe and Mail, she has also published in Queen’s Quarterly, The Fiddlehead, Descant, Geist, Antigonish Review, This Magazine, National Post, Calgary Herald, Ottawa Citizen and Azure. Two of her pieces have been anthologized in high school English textbooks.

In 2005 Ms. Doyle won Silver in the National Magazine Awards (essay category); she has twice been short-listed for the Larry Turner Award, twice been a finalist for The Writers’ Union of Canada Postcard Story Competition, and is a three time winner of NL Arts and Letters Awards. She’s been a juror (non-fiction) for the CBC Literary Competition and the NL Book Awards, has participated in the Banff Writing Studio and has read across Canada.

Doyle is also a musician and former broadcaster. For ten years she was writer/host/producer of various regional and national CBC Radio shows; for six of those years she hosted a national late-night music program.

Doyle has lived in Spain, Switzerland, U.S., Toronto and Calgary, and now makes her home in her native St. John’s.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the course requires submission of a creative writing portfolio to the instructor: 5-10 pages, typed, doubled-spaced, of creative non-fiction(personal essay, travel, memoir, personal journalism, etc.) from one piece or several pieces. Students who haven't written creative non-fiction may submit any piece of creative writing.

Submissions (hard copy) must be received by Friday, August 24th. Send submissions to M.M. Doyle, P.O. Box 6242, St. John's, A1C 6J9. Include an e-mail address for response. Students who are accepted into the course
will be notified by Tuesday, August 28th.

Suggestion: Enrol in a back-up course, in case you are not accepted into 3903. If you are accepted, then the back-up course can be dropped, and 3903 added.

The course is a seminar. No text. Samples of published creative non-fiction will be studied and discussed. Students are expected to submit work regularly; these pieces will be a central part of the seminar discussion. The idea of the course is to help students write, and write well, in the genre of creative non-fiction.