Selected Topics in Writing & Rhetoric: Writing from Territory – Creative Writing in Fiction and Nonfiction

Professor: Sharon English
Course code: WRR308H1
Format: Lecture/Discussion/Tutorial

About this course

This course will guide students into a creative writing process that is engaged with place and time. Most of the class will be spent outdoors at various locations in Toronto, in activities that will foster connection with the season, natural elements, and other features and qualities—both human and not—of each place. Through guided writing activities, discussions of course texts, assignments and writing workshops, students will learn how writing informed by territory can expand their work, adding intimacy, immediacy, authenticity and depth. They will discover how stories wait in places, how the land, rivers and animals are storytellers, as well as our human kin.

This course will draw on readings and techniques in literary fiction of different genres (e.g., realism, speculative, fantasy), and a range of nonfiction. Students are invited to explore any genre. While you do not need experience with creative writing, you should have a keen interest in writing and a curiosity about and willingness to spend time outdoors, regardless of weather.

Course texts will include selections from fiction and nonfiction, featuring writers such as Teju Cole, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Martin Shaw, Barry Lopez, Rebecca Solnit, Leanne Simpson, David Hubert, and many more. Because the class will require some travel by TTC, students are also advised not to take another class on the same day.

What you’ll learn

  • Experience plants and trees up close through local field trips.
  • Learn how plants enable us not only to survive but thrive.
  • Trace humans’ changing understanding of and interactions with plants over time and place.
  • Analyze and write about plants from different perspectives — rhetorical, aesthetic, and political.

Course highlights

If you’re interested in different ways to think, write, and talk about the environment, especially plants, then this course will speak to you. Whether you are a science student seeking a fresh view of plants or a humanities or social science student interested in paying closer attention to the natural world, you’ll come away with a deeper understanding of and a renewed appreciation for plants. You will deepen your knowledge about plants and the environment, and develop your ability to communicate that knowledge through a research project of your own choosing.

A personal note from your instructor

Good to know

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Have a question?

Need more info? Want to discuss if the Writing & Rhetoric Program is right for you? Looking for help in choosing courses? Jannie Chien, the Innis College academic program coordinator, can help!