This interactive workshop will focus on the way a writer constructs characters in memoirs, personal essays, and literary journalism. Students will examine – through their work and others’ – how nonfiction writers must shape information to render people on the page in a way that is accurate, honest, and engaging.
Much of this workshop will be spent on the “I” character. How do we portray ourselves, both when we’re at the center of our stories and when we’re on the edges looking in? How do we decide what to include and how do we justify what we exclude? How can we deepen our understanding of individuals and relationships by thinking about them through places and objects? We will look to the writers Joan Didion, Phillip Lopate, David Sedaris, Marina Keegan, Mary Karr, Jamaica Kincaid and others for help when we need it.
The majority of class time will be spent discussing student work. Revision will be essential. Canvas will be used to discuss readings and other topics. In addition to writing assignments throughout the semester, students will complete a final portfolio of approximately fifteen pages of revised work.