Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in Fiction and Nonfiction MOOC-Pack


This MOOC-Pack provides the core content of our MOOC Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in Fiction and Nonfiction. You can use this MOOC-Pack on your own, or you can use it to lead a writing class or a study group. 

This MOOC is currently being offered live. The live MOOC opened on May 15, 2017, and will close on July 3, 2017. If you would like to join the live MOOC, you can sign up for free on our NovoEd MOOC site. While this live MOOC is running, we will update the class page content in this MOOC-Pack week by week. So if you click on a class page, and the content is not yet available, please refer to the date at the top of the page. For example, the welcome class content was posted on May 15,2017. The class 1 content will be posted on May 18, 2017. At the top of each class page, you will see the content date noted.

Start by clicking on the Welcome Class in the navigation menu at the left. You will find directions for the welcome video, audio file, and transcript. Then, click on Class 1. You will find directions for the class 1 video, audio file, transcript, writing assignment, readings, and discussion questions.

If you have any trouble navigating this MOOC-Pack, visit our HOW TO USE page for instructions on using this website. If you need to contact us with any questions or concerns, please visit the CONTACT | HELP | FEEDBACK page.

Centered on the exploration of individual, community, and global identities—as well as the effect of social issues on those identities—this MOOC-Pack offers a progressive study through the principles of fiction and nonfiction, including short- and long-form fiction, literary journalism, the memoir essay, and the personal essay. This MOOC-Pack has a welcome class, six classes, and a farewell class. You can access each class by clicking the appropriate link on the navigation menu to the left. You can begin with the welcome class and continue in order through classes 1-6 and then to the farewell class. 



Venise Berry is Associate Professor in the University of Iowa's School of Journalism & Mass Communication, and author of three national bestselling novels, So Good, An African American Love Story  (Dutton/Penguin, 1996), All of Me, A Voluptuous Tale  (Dutton/Penguin 2000), and Colored Sugar Water (Dutton/Penguin/Putnam 2002). In 2003 she received the Creative Contribution to Literature award from the Zora Neale Hurston Society. All of Me received a 2001 Honor Book Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Also in 2001 she was recognized with an Iowa Author Award from the Public Library Foundation in Des Moines. Her two most recent nonfiction projects, The Historical Dictionary of African American Film  (Scarecrow Press, 2005) and The 50 Most Influential Black Films (Citadel, 2001) are co-authored with her brother S. Torriano Berry, a professor in film at Howard University in Washington, DC. She also co-edited the book Mediated Messages and African-American Culture: Contemporary Issues  (Sage, 1996), which won the Meyers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America in 1997.


Christopher Merrill, IWP Director and University of Iowa Professor of English, has published six collections of poetry, including Watch Fire, for which he received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; many works of translation and edited volumes, among them, The Forgotten Language: Contemporary Poets and Nature and From the Faraway Nearby: Georgia O'Keeffe as Icon; and five books of nonfiction, The Grass of Another Country: A Journey Through the World of Soccer, The Old Bridge: The Third Balkan War and the Age of the Refugee, Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars, Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain, and The Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War. His work has been translated into nearly forty languages, his honors include a knighthood in arts and letters from the French government, and his journalism appears in many publications. As director of the University of Iowa's International Writing Program, he has undertaken cultural diplomacy missions to more than fifty countries. His new work Still Life with Dogwood has just been published.

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