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ENGL-106 - Creative Writing - Nonfiction - Mary Angelino

Course:Creative Writing - Nonfiction
Professor:Mary Angelino
  • Online
Course Length:
  • 16 Week


Hello  and welcome to English 106!

Creative nonfiction blends literary art (fiction and poetry) with the real (facts and research), and uses many literary devices such as setting, voice, image, and character development. We will study these devices in the work of contemporary creative non-fiction, and incorporate them into our own writing. Since part of the writing process is the revision process, workshop will play a fundamental role in our course; therefore, we’ll spend much of our time reading and commenting on your work in progress. Participation is critical in this course. The time we spend together is our opportunity to expand our views on what creative nonfiction is, to build a writer’s community, and to learn the craft behind the art.

In addition, class time will be used for discussion, analysis, and evaluation of assigned readings from Tell It Slant textbook and the Brevity website, as well as participating in creative writing exercises. The creative writing exercises allow you to practice literary devices we will study in the assigned readings, and will always build toward the next essay, with the goal of being an inspiration for—or even the first few pages of—your rough draft. At the end of each unit, you will submit a portfolio with a rough and final draft of your essay, which will include a detailed reflection of your writing and revision processes, techniques, and influences.

I’m thrilled to help you tell your own stories in this class because of my background as a writer and creative writing teacher. I have an MFA from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, but I began writing in 2003 here at College of the Canyons in Professor Alene Terzian’s creative writing courses. I was hooked on writing workshops from day one—I found a way to express myself and to discover the best ways my writing could move others. Some of my recent work has been published in the Southern Humanities Review, Rattle, and the Best New Poets 2017 and 2015, and anthologies, guest edited by Natalie Diaz and Tracy K. Smith. Before I was hired at COC in Spring of 2017, I taught Composition and Creative Writing courses since at the University of Arkansas (2007-2015) and at Northwest Arkansas Community College (2015-2017). In Fall 2019, I had the privilege of teaching English 106 here at COC--It was, hands down, the best teaching experience of my career. I love this class and hope you will, too!

The course syllabus, containing important course policies and procedures, the calendar of weekly assignment deadlines and much more detailed information about how the course is structured overall, can be found on our course Canvas shell when it goes live at 9am on the first day of school. On that day, you will have access to the course in Canvas, and should log in to view the course syllabus and assignment instructions. I will be sending the syllabus and other instructions to you via email a few days before our semester starts so you can begin working on the assignments that are due during the first week of instruction. Below, I've provided an overview of the course and how it will function--please read all of the sections carefully as they will likely answer some questions you may already have about the course. Make sure to note the required textbook (which you should purchase before the semester starts) and other various resources available to you.


Here’s to an invigorating semester ahead!

--Prof. Angelino

Course Description

The Course Catalog says "Students study and write nonfiction prose, emphasizing description and narration through the composition of memoirs and personal essays. Writing practice stresses students’ awareness of their own styles and the manipulation of stylistic elements. Uses an individual and workshop approach to promote invention and discovery, writing, analysis, evaluation and revision." In my approach to this introductory course, you’ll write and workshop your own creative nonfiction essays, and work to discover, along with your classmates, what memoirist Carmen Maria Machado means when she says “The memoir is, at its core, an act of resurrection.  Memoirists re-create the past, reconstruct dialogue.  They summon meaning from events that have long been dormant.  They braid the clays of memory and essay and fact and perception together, smash them into a ball, roll them flat.  They manipulate time; resuscitate the dead. They put themselves, and others, into necessary context.” –from In the Dream House

What to Expect in this Course

For this class, we will be using Canvas. On Canvas, you can access the course syllabus and the weekly modules with all the materials found inside, such as power-point lectures, handouts, essay prompts, essay rubrics, homework schedule, and helpful links. It is also where you’ll submit all your work. I will also post important weekly Announcements on Canvas throughout the semester that explain the assignments and expectations. All instructional materials and the assignment submission links can be found under the weekly “MODULES” on Canvas. You do not have access to the modules all at once—they are released week by week. Modules will be made available at 8:00pm the Friday before the following week’s assignments are due. Each week you have the chance to get a jump-start on the following week’s assignments and turn them in early.

Types of Assessments

In English 106 Online, there will be 3 assignment deadlines to meet each week, such as Discussion Board posts and responses which will be used for exploring the week's assigned readings and for creative writing activities. Each week will end with either a short writing assignment, such as creative writing exercises/journals or with a workshop over an essay draft. Over the course of the semester, you will write, workshop, and revise three 1,500-word creative nonfiction essays, assembling them into Revision Portfolios in which you’ll reflect on your process and growth as a writer. There will be one short Self-Reflective Final Essay.

Textbook Information

Textbook Title: Tell It Slant, 3rd Edition, by Suzanne Paola and Brenda Miller; ISBN 13: 9781260454598

In addition to our required textbook, Tell It Slant, 3rd Edition, students will read contemporary creative nonfiction essays on Brevity, a free online literary journal:

Other Relevant Course Information

  • This course requires a 6-9 hour weekly time commitment: To successfully complete this course, you will need to log onto our class Canvas shell several times per week to view documents and PowerPoints, submit assignments, and participate in discussions. Meeting the 3 weekly deadlines and carefully reading everything I post will be crucial to success in the class. You should expect to spend approximately 6-9 hours per week completing writing assignments and reading the material to be prepared for class, just as you would for any in-person 3-unit English course. This course requires the same amount of total work hours as a regular face-to-face section--the only difference is that the time of day that you complete your work is more flexible when you take an online class. Our class-wide discussion boards (where much of our class work will be conducted) will be asynchronous, not synchronous, meaning that you can log in at a time of day convenient to you as long as you post or respond by a predetermined deadline.
  • This course has an "Attendance" Policy: Although it may seem strange to have an attendance policy when no physical attendance is required, your completion of weekly assignments and participation in the weekly discussion boards serves as your attendance because weekly participation is VITAL to your success and to the success of your classmates in English 106. When you participate in a community of writers, you provide feedback for others while receiving valuable feedback about your own work. Falling behind, by even 1 or 2 assignments, often jeopardizes a student's ability to pass the course and deprives the writers-under-discussion of your advice. Meeting deadlines are all part of the writing life. There are days you may not want to write, but writers write--whether they feel inspired or not. Submitting rough drafts on time, thoughtfully revising your work based on feedback from myself and your peers, and active workshop participation are non-negotiable matters; these criteria must be met in order to receive a passing grade in the course.  What does this class design mean in terms of attendance? Here is what you need to know:
    • Attendance, Add, & Drop Policies: If you'd like to add the course, please email me within the first week of the semester. If there is an open seat, I'll send you instructions for how to add.If you anticipate extended or multiple missed assignments, please consult with me as soon as possible to discuss whether you will be able to complete the requirements for this course.  First 2 Weeks Rule: Meeting ALL assignment deadlines for the first two weeks of class is mandatory to stay in the course. If you miss even one deadline during the first two weeks, you will be dropped to make room for waitlisted students hoping to add. If an emergency should occur during this time and you wish to remain in the class, I require an e-mail within 24 hours of the missed class with a documented excuse. Documented excuses usually, but not always, consist of a doctor's note or something similar, and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Drop Policy: After the first two weeks, students who miss 3 assignment deadlines in a row will be dropped from the course.  It is your responsibility to stay in contact with me if you're experiencing an emergency, and to provide me with the necessary documentation. In sum, it is crucial that you stay current with weekly assignments. If you fall behind, contact me immediately; I was a student at this college myself, and so I'm understanding and here to help.
  • This course requires self-reliance. I am happy to answer your questions, but before you send me a question, check that the answer is not already available to you either in the class notes/instructions or on the Ask Course Questions Here discussion board on Canvas. Also, take advantage of the information and resources provided by the college: the COC Writing Center (TLC), the COC Distance Learning services, and the Canvas Resources, all of which are linked below and on the course homepage. Part of being a professional college student is taking responsibility for your own learning and discovering how to find the resources needed to succeed. You have a lot of available support, but you must seek it.
  • This course requires much patience. One thing you will have to be patient with is me. Your best chances for getting a quick response from me are during my availability hours listed on the syllabus. Generally I will try to respond within 24 hours to emails sent Monday-Thursday. The grading window for your smaller assignments is 3-5 days after the due date. For major assignments, expect your grade within 12-14 days after the due date.
  • This course requires weekly computer and Internet use. You should have regular and consistent access to a computer with word processing software, email, and a high-speed Internet connection. If you do not have this access at home (or if you have temporary technical difficulties at home--it happens to all of us!) please contact me as soon as you are able to, and please refer to the "Late Work" policy on the course syllabus. 
  • This course requires you to learn and use basic technology skills. While you do not need to be a computer "expert" to take this course, you should have a certain level of comfort and competence with computers. To succeed in this class, you should be able to: Navigate the Internet, send and receive email attachments, upload your work to Canvas, cut and paste text from documents, compose and format documents in a word processing program, and save documents as PDF files. You should also be able to back up all of your course work as you prepare it. For example, you should save your work to your hard drive, and consider purchasing a jump drive (thumb drive), which will give you more flexibility and a back-up to your hard drive should your computer be infected by a virus or suffer hardware failure. Googledocs or dropbox are other great options for backing up/ saving your work. If you are not able to do these things independently, this online class is not the best format for you. Some of the initial challenge of this course involves learning the technology. It takes some getting accustomed to it all, but don't worry--after the first couple of weeks, it will all seem very natural to you.

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

Often the pressure on our students is very strong, involving academic commitments, relationships, outside jobs and family pressure to name a few. The staff and faculty of College of the Canyons are here to see you succeed academically and care about your emotional and physical health. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including counseling and mental health services available on campus by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center in the Student Services Building (across from the bookstore). The phone number is 661-362-3259 that you can call 24/7. You can also e mail for an appointment at At the Canyon Country Campus the Health Center will be in the new Student Services Building.

Also, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number is now 988. All students at COC are encouraged to enter that phone number in their cells. You can call it when you, or someone you know, is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress.

You can also now use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. Someone will get back to you immediately. Its free, 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


The Library provides live online and in-person research help, access to a full range of e-resources and physical materials that support the curriculum, individual and group study areas, and much more!

Last updated: 01/12/2022 Sub#: 1221