Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Writing and Remembering: A Memoir Workshop

ENGL 516.640
instructor(s):
Thursday 5:30-8:30pm

Writing and Remembering: A Memoir Workshop is designed to help students connect with their own minds, imaginations, and experiences, as well as with the world around them. We will read and discuss personal narratives by a wide range of writers, including James Baldwin, Jeanette Winterson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, John McPhee, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Toni Morrison. We’ll look at “fact,” “fiction,” and “truth” in life and literature. We’ll also examine how a memoir can shine light on how we live on this earth, especially in the context of larger issues—from slavery to gender discrimination, disabilities to racism, and class bias to sexism—as viewed through a personal lens. A memoir is a slice of the author’s life usually examined in first person. The more personal the story, the more universal it becomes. In addition to in-class writing, students are expected to: maintain a practice of focused free writing (10-15 minutes daily), generate creative responses (2-3 pages weekly) to assigned books, essays, stories, films and speakers, participate in workshop discussions and peer review, and write and revise two to three personal essays or book chapters during the semester. If you have any questions about this course, please email kwatters@sas.upenn.edu.