In the lifeworld that we experience from within and share with others, there are some things that we don’t know, some things that we can’t know, some things that we don’t need to know, and some things that we don’t want to know (or, perhaps, to admit). Parsing these differences marks the delicate artistry of creative nonfiction (CNF). Whereas fiction (as figured in the contemporary novel) has less need to censor its depictions of character, creative nonfiction must balance honesty (toward one’s subject) with authenticity (toward oneself), intimacy (toward one’s reader), and privacy (toward details of one’s lifeworld). Embracing an “ethic of care” (Nussbaum; Noddings) aids the CNF author in balancing these competing claims: It is not “the Truth,” but health and community, that contemporary CNF seeks in its narrative artistry. For a model of successful CNF, this paper turns to Jim W. Corder, a late-20th century pioneer in postmodernist life-writing. Fusing Corderian rhetoric with an ethic of care, this essay ends with a series of aphorisms supportive of Corderian practice. Along the way, it makes use of Corder’s own scholarly habit of autoethnography—that is, of incorporating personal narrative within cultural/textual analysis.



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Creative Nonfiction (CNF), Consciousness, Lifeworld, Intimacy, Ethic of Care, Jim W. Corder, Corderian Rhetoric, Postmodernism, Narrative, Autoethnography

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Language, Literature, and Interdisciplinary Studies