Writing Literary Non-fiction

WRIT 290/3.0

A study of the essay as a literary form, including analysis of readings as well as a series of writing assignments. Complementing the assignments is a mandatory Grammar and Style component.


Literary non-fiction is a broad term describing a range of writing genres, all of which have two simple things in common: they are written in prose (as opposed to poetry) and they deal with non-fictional subject matter (as opposed to novels or short stories). In a sense, literary non-fiction is the documentary film of the literary world, as with documentaries, literary non-fiction essays and books represent a vast range of styles and subject matter. WRIT 290 offers students an opportunity to study and write works of literary non-fiction. Through readings, exercises, forum discussions, and writing assignments, students will develop a greater sense of how literary non-fiction can work as a creative form of writing. The course will culminate in the publication of an e-book containing students' final literary non-fiction writing assignments, which will be distributed to students via Dr. May's class website.


Writing Assignments80%
Grammar Exercises5%
Style Exercises5%
Discussion Forums10%

There will be no final examination for this course.


Learning Outcomes

In WRIT 290, students will

  • Learn about literary non-fiction as literary form;
  • Read works by recent writers working in variety of fields (travel writing, biography, personal essay, etc.)
  • Examine some stylistic and mechanical aspects of literary non-fiction writing;
  • Evaluate strengths and weaknessess of these writings
  • Explore some similarities and differences between literary and academic writing;\
  • Experiment with literary non-fiction modes of writing

Through these experiences, students will

  • Enhance their critical reading skills through readings and discussion of course texts;
  • Develop their writing skills by
    • Creating strong, organized and original works of literary non-fiction to a publishable standard
    • Particiapting in dialogue with markers, instructors, and other students on course readings and their own work, through feedback and forum discussions
  • Learn to critique and edit their won work as well as that of others
  • Gain appreciation of insight into the breadth and potential of literary non-fiction writing techniques, both as a reader and a writer
  • See their final work published in an e-book anthology at the end of the course


Unit 1Literary and Academic Writing
Unit 2Writing about Travel and Place
Unit 3Writing about People
Unit 4Writing about Culture
Unit 5The Personal Essay



Time Commitment

Students should expect to devote 15-18 hours per week in individual study and practice for WRIT 290. This length of time will vary depending on such factors as reading skills, familiarity with the study of literature in English, experience and facility in writing academic essays etc.

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.


Moodle is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into Moodle to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the Moodle site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a good-quality computer (Windows XP/Vista/7, Pentium III, or Mac OS X 10.5, G4 or G5 processor, 256 MB RAM) with a high-speed internet connection, soundcard, speakers, and microphone, and up-to-date versions of free software (Explorer/Firefox, Java, Flash, Adobe Reader). See also Preparing For Your Course.


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Dates and Deadlines section.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for 2014-15 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Canadian students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $605.31; for a 6.0-unit course, $1210.62. See also Tuition and Payment.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
Have your SOLUS grade report handy and then follow the link to the Arts and Science GPA calculators.

How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
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Campus Bookstore

All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.