Techniques of Nonfiction: Memory and Memoir|
Spring 2021 not offered
Taking the shifting nature of memory--sometimes fluid, often repressed, shape-shifting, nonlinear, occasionally contradictory--as our starting point, we will read and write memoirs, personal essays, and experiments. We will examine how writers convey not only remembered events but also the events' lasting emotional and symbolic significance, almost invisibly, within the technical aspects of their texts. As we read and write, we will consider the relationship between content and form in personal nonfiction, and we will explore the various ways writers employ narrative and anti-narrative structures when writing about oneself and one's own life. In other words, this semester, you--everything that composes who you are as an individual--will be your primary subject matter as we think about memory, consciousness, the (un)reliability of linearity and "truth," and language's relationship with time, presence, and place. We will look deeply into the complexities of what it means to be a person in the world, with language alive inside of us. We will walk into the rooms of our memories and heritages. We will question our relationships with temporality and language, and we will dredge up--in order to write through--our most impossible thoughts.
We will divide our time between reading contemporary investigations into nonfiction forms--the memoir and anti-memoir, experimental fictions that cull from one's life and heritage, the lyric essay, and hybrid essay forms--and writing our own nonfiction texts in response. There will be biweekly presentations, in-class writing experiments, and intensive workshops of one another's work. The class will culminate in a book arts project and a reflective essay.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Discussion||Grading Mode: Student Option|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ENGL)(ENGL-Creative W)
Writers studied include: James Baldwin, Zadie Smith, Barrack Obama, Natalie Goldberg, Pankaj Mishra, Elif Batuman, David Foster Wallace, and Maggie Nelson.
|Examinations and Assignments: |
Regular short exercises, two workshop submissions, a final revision.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
May not be taken in the same semester as another writing workshop. Students are also required to attend 2-3 readings (usually scheduled on Wednesday nights) during the semester.
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