A Revisable Definition of Nonfiction

If you’re interested in helping to create a workable, relevant definition of nonfiction as a contemporary form, feel free to suggest revisions to the definitions below, to provide additional definitions following these, or to offer alternative definitions on the bottom of this page. If you care to share them, send the sheet to: Robert Root, Department of English, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859; fax # 989-774-1271; <root1rl@cmich.edu>.

Nonfiction n.

1.   the written expression of, reflection upon, and/or interpretation of observed, perceived, or recollected experience;

2.   a genre of literature made up of such writing which includes such subgenres as personal essay, memoir, narrative reportage, and expressive critical writing and whose borders with other genres and forms (such as journalism, criticism, history, etc.) are fluid and malleable;

3.   the expressive, transactional, and poetic prose texts generated by students in college composition courses; 

4.   (obsolete) not fiction.

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