Creative Nonfiction

Creative nonfiction is similar to “literary nonfiction.” It makes use of the full range of literary techniques and elements employed by writers of other genres, including fiction, poetry, and playwriting. It is not constrained by subject matter or voice or point of view. It consists of many sub-genres, including the classic essay (Montaigne), the personal essay (Lopate), the memoir (Terry Tempest Williams), certain styles of autobiography, biography and criticism (Ozick), some travel and nature writing (McPhee), narrative nonfiction (Hillenbrand), the literary journal (Sarton) and works of literary or “new” journalism: for example, the highly stylized nonfiction of Joan Didion, Susan Sontag, Tom Wolfe and Truman Capote. 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 creative nonfiction students and alums have had books published with HarperCollins, Riverhead, University of Nebraska Press, and more. Their work has been recognized in Best American Essays and has won the AROHO Foundation’s Orlando Prize. They have published columns and essays in the New York Times, The Missouri Review, Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Saveur, and dozens of other prestigious magazines, journals, and newspapers. Our CNF alums teach full-time at respected universities. A Spalding CNF alum serves as writer-in-residence for the nationally recognized Mayborn Literary Nonfiction conference and has been honored with the Outstanding Educator Award from the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Past visiting creative nonfiction writers include some of the most distinguished writers in the field, including National Book Award winner Barry Lopez and award-winning authors Molly Peacock, Phillip Lopate, Terry Tempest Williams, Pico Iyer, and Scott Russell Sanders.

All Spalding MFA students have the option to spend a residency or an entire semester studying a second area of concentration as a way to enrich and expand their craft and understanding of aesthetics.