Online Course

I to Eye: Integrating Research into the Personal Essay

July 11 - August 14, 2022

Level Fundamentals

True, “memoir” starts with “me” … but there’s room for so much more.

Additional Information

Have you wanted to take your essays beyond the personal? Perhaps integrate a researched or reported element or break into a new media publication? In “I to Eye” you explore the in-between of journalism and essay writing – sometimes called “personal journalism” or personal narrative woven with research or other reporting. Over this five-week course you will look at examples in the media and practice writing in variations of this form, finishing with a brief overview of how to pitch this genre.

Whether you have an idea for integrating research into a finished essay, or want an introduction to the possibilities of personal journalism, this course will provide options for approaching your piece and guide you to toward a first and revised draft.

You’ll start by reading and discussing published pieces of creative nonfiction on the spectrum of “I” to “eye,” looking at the various ways research and other points of view can add perspective and meaning to a piece. And through low stakes assignments and exercises, you’ll practice these different techniques, moving toward a draft of a researched essay. Each week you’ll have an exercise that practices a different approach to the “eye,” and scaffolded prompts that support the writing of your draft.  This course will culminate in a workshop of a first draft as well as a brief discussion of options for pitching and publishing personal journalism.

Course Schedule

Week 1: Identifying the I and the Eye

The spectrum from “I” to “eye” offers many approaches to integrating research into a personal essay. In this first week, you will read examples from across the spectrum and begin to identify where the “I” ends and the “eye” begins. Writing prompts will help develop ideas for a researched essay.

Week 2: Researching the Threads


“Research” can feel like a daunting idea, conjuring an image of a bespectacled academic huddled under stacks of books in a dusty library basement. But research can be anything from personal observation to interviewing to Googling and using document-based sources. This week you’ll examine and practice the breadth of research methods, practicing some as they may support your project.

WEEK 3: TYING IT TOGETHER

A common lament of the researcher-writer is that they end up with more material than can ever fit into their work. This week you'll look at how to prioritize and organize your content, finding surprising threads or connections among your own experiences and the research you’ve done, and creating an outline and moving toward the first draft of your researched essay.

WEEK 4: DRAFT ONE

This week a first draft will be due, and options will be offered for revising one’s own work. you’ll also go over approaches for providing feedback to each other in preparation for a group workshop.

Week 5: Critique, Revision, & Pitching

As we work to critique each other’s work, this week will offer options for publishing works of personal journalism and approaches to pitching. In some cases, one can pitch a researched essay before writing, and you’ll explore how to do that effectively as well as how an essay pitch – even for one’s own purposes or to share with a writing group – can help you organize your approach to a project before you start writing.

View Complete Syllabus

Course Instructor

Course Registration

$310.00

Out of stock

Become a Supporting Subscriber today and get up to 10% off your purchase.

Please Note

It is not uncommon for classes to fill up before the end of early registration, particularly in the last few days before the deadline. If you know for certain that you wish to take a particular class, we recommend registering early. If you'd like to be added to a waitlist for a sold-out class, please email our director of education, Sharla Yates, at [email protected].

Hear from our Students

Creative Nonfiction’s online writing classes have helped more than 3,000 writers tell their stories better.

Read Success Stories

Testimonials

I enjoyed reading other peoples work and getting feedback about my own work– the handouts/video links and class lessons were also very informative and relevantly paced to the give structural guidelines.

Catherine O’Neill

Online Course FAQs

  • What day and time is my online course?

    Our courses run asynchronously; meaning, you will NOT need to be online at any particular time. Assignments for CNF classes are given on a weekly basis; you should submit each assignment by a given deadline, but in most classes you will have at least an entire week to complete the assignment. We realize that our students live in many different areas and have different work schedules, so classes are designed to be flexible. Courses feature one live conference session, which does require that you be online at a particular time; however, participation in this session is completely optional, and instructors make an effort to offer times that can accommodate most students. This is scheduled by the instructor after class begins. If you are not able to participate in the live conference you will still be able to view a recording of it during the remaining weeks of the class. Please note that there are no video conferences in boot camp courses.

  • What makes CNF’s classes different from other online programs?

    Flexibility

    Some online programs work on a “synchronous” model, which requires you to be online at an assigned time each week. The asynchronous model used in our classes means that you do not have to be online at any particular time of day, and can approach the class assignments at your own pace based on your schedule. While some optional events—such as class video conferences—do take place at a specific time, the majority of class activities can be completed according to your schedule.

    Intimate Classes

    Classes are small—limited to 14 students per section—which means you’ll receive individual attention and feedback on your work.

    Experienced Instructors

    Good writing instructors not only need to be skilled writers, but also need to have experience in teaching what they know to others. That’s why all of our instructors are professional writers with extensive teaching experience.

    Substantial and Meaningful Writing Assignments

    Many online writing programs ask you to complete short writing exercises each week, and only near the end of the class are you invited to write a single essay or chapter. At Creative Nonfiction, we recognize the value of exercises, but also believe that completing an essay or chapter is the best way for developing writers to really explore how all the elements of creative nonfiction work together. Writing complete pieces also leaves you with a sense of accomplishment and with work you can share when the class is completed. For this reason, in our classes you are invited to submit longer pieces multiple times during a course. See course syllabus for more information.

    Sense of Connection

    We realize that it is difficult to find one’s writing community—which is why we now offer every new student membership to a Community Page where you can meet with other CNF students, during and after class.

  • What are your community standards?

    Creative Nonfiction is committed to creating a welcoming and comfortable experience for all staff and participants regardless of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disabilities, neurodiversity, physical appearance, ethnicity, nationality, race, age, or religion.

    We expect that staff and participants will treat each other with respect in all interactions. We will not tolerate discrimination or harrassment in conjunction with any of our programs. Harassment could include but is not limited to:

    • Repeated disruption of classes, lectures or discussion
    • Deliberate intimidation
    • Unwelcome sexual attention
    • Comments or displayed images that harmfully reinforce structures of oppression

    Community posts violating any of these guidelines can and will be removed from the page at any time. Anyone asked to stop harassing behavior is expected to comply immediately.

    Harassment does not include respectful disagreement or critique in good faith. Reading and writing, by their nature, include exposure to controversial, challenging, and sometimes offensive language. We encourage all participants to follow the peer review guidelines provided by their instructor.

    When you join a course you agree to…

    • respect others and respect their writing;
    • maintain the privacy of all submitted work;
    • treat others with respect;
    • not infringe on anyone’s copyright;
    • not harass, abuse, threaten or impersonate another user; and
    • not use libelous, obscene, or abusive work.


    Online Communication Guide

    Online communication happens without the benefit of body language and tone. Therefore, it can be easy to misinterpret. The following tips may help participants engage in civil, intelligent, vigorous discourse without impugning the personal dignity of others:

    1. Start from a position of generosity (i.e. assume that people mean well)
    2. Address your post to someone or to the group. Instead of “Hey” or just jumping in to your post, try “Hi All” or “Hi [Name].”
    3.  Don’t be afraid to use emoticons and/or exclamation points! 🙂
    4. Please avoid ALL CAPS whenever possible, as they tend to come off as RUDE or YELLING.
    5. Avoid harsh or offensive language of any kind. If you’re in doubt, try rewording or reconsidering your post.
    6. Sarcasm is very difficult to convey in writing — best to avoid it.
    7. When interacting with your peers, please consider that some may have limited experience with English, online education, and/or creative writing. It’s a good rule of thumb not to write anything you wouldn’t say if that person were standing in front of you.
    8. Often writers from underrepresented groups are asked to explain everything for an assumed monolithic audience (often cis/white/hetero/masculine/able-bodied, etc. etc.). As you respond to peers’ work, keep in mind that you may not be the writer’s intended audience, and leave room for the possibility that the writer is writing for a group of which you are not a member. (For more on this, listen to this episode of Code Switch for an in depth conversation.)

    See your course for additional feedback guidelines provided by your instructor.

  • How do I find my course archive?

    All course work is saved in Wet.Ink. When the course closes, you can find the archive by logging in to your account, and choosing “Past Classes.” Archives include course content (lectures, readings, writing prompts, etc.), your posts and writing submissions, and any feedback given on your writing. The course archive will not include your classmates’ writing submissions.

  • What do the course levels mean?

    FUNDAMENTALS—open to all levels.
    Our fundamentals courses are designed for those who are new to writing or new to creative nonfiction, as well as those who could benefit from a back-to-basics review on how to effectively and intentionally use elements of the writer’s craft.

    INTERMEDIATE—prerequisites suggested. 
    Our intermediate courses are designed for writers who have some experience either in the genre or CNF’s courses. Past course participation is not required, but we do recommend starting with one of our fundamentals courses, especially Foundations of Creative Nonfiction.

    ADVANCED—prerequisites for enrollment. 
    Our advanced courses are for writers who have completed two previous online courses (not including self-guided courses) with Creative Nonfiction (one must be an intermediate level course).