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Master of Fine Arts in Writing – Creative Nonfiction


In our creative nonfiction concentration, we embrace the full range of literary techniques and elements employed by writers of other genres, including fiction, poetry and playwriting. You will explore subject matter, voice and point of view through an expansive territory that ranges from classic forms such as the personal essay, memoir and narrative nonfiction to more innovative forms such as the graphic memoir and lyric essay.

Although CNF implies a contract with the reader as to the veracity of its prose, its attempt to communicate “real life” must always be viewed somewhat skeptically, in the light of authorial subjectivity and selectivity. Truth in its broadest sense, and not factual accuracy in its narrowest, is the goal of CNF. Our faculty members are expert guides through the unique opportunities offered by this form, and they themselves are always exploring and always learning.


Past visiting writers include:

  • National Book Award winner Barry Lopez (Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape)
  • Molly Peacock (Paradise, Piece By Piece)
  • Phillip Lopate (The Art of the Personal Essay, editor)
  • Terry Tempest Williams (Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place)
  • Pico Iyer (The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama)
  • Scott Russell Sanders (Writing from the Center)


  • Alumni memoirs, narrative nonfiction books and essay collections have been published by HarperCollins, Riverhead, University of Nebraska Press, University of Alaska Press, University of Alabama Press and many others
  • Alumni essays have appeared in The New York Times, New York Times Magazine, The Missouri ReviewCreative Nonfiction, Oxford American, The SunO, the Oprah MagazineVogue, Salon and many more
  • Alums’ titles have been Amazon Bestsellers and Heartland Indie Bestsellers
  • Alumni prizes include the Orlando Prize for Creative Nonfiction and the Frank McCourt Creative Nonfiction Prize