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Writing and Remembering: a Memoir Workshop

ENGL 435.640
instructor(s):

Whether you’re a new or experienced writer, this seminar will help you explore the elements that go into creating an effective memoir —the storytelling that creates for your readers events/people/places that have helped shape your inner life and sense of self. Memory is a dynamic force, and as we move and grow through our lives, our perspectives shift and change our relationships with the past. Through exercises and assignments, you will tap into your imagination and learn not only how to explore the mysteries that have helped to shape your own life and others' lives, but how to write vividly about them. We will focus on details, pace, and tone, as well as on research and revision and the ethics of how to write “truths” that may effect other people’s lives. We also will mine a deeper understanding of the art and craft by writing from a wide range of authors, including Maxine Hong Kingston, Kaye Gibbons, Jorge Luis Borges, Toni Morrison, Eudora Welty, James Baldwin, and Zora Neale Hurston. In addition to in-class writing, students are asked to a maintain a daily practice of free-writing; write reading responses (2-3 pages weekly) to assigned books, essays, and stories; participate in workshop discussions and peer review, and write and revise three stories or personal essays (4-5 pages) during the semester.