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EGL 43 W — I Laughed So Hard I Cried: Writing Comedy and Tragedy

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 24—Aug 30
Drop Deadline: Jun 27
Units: 3
Tuition: $895
Instructor(s): Rachel Smith
Limit: 17
Status: Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is June 27 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is July 2 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Summer
Date(s)
Jun 24—Aug 30
10 weeks
Drop By
Jun 27
3 Units
Fees
$895
Instructor(s):
Rachel Smith
Limit
17
Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is June 27 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is July 2 at 5:00 pm (PT).
No theme is so human, said Henry James, as “the close connexion of bliss and bale.” The things that make us laugh are often a hair’s breadth from the things that make us cry—and writing shows its power when it gives rise to either response in a reader. In this course, we will practice writing comedy and tragedy while learning from published short stories, novel excerpts, and creative nonfiction readings. We will analyze George Saunders’s mythical story on parenting while broke, Lydia Davis’s epistolary “Letter to a Funeral Parlor,” Nick Flynn’s memoir of getting to know his homeless father, and other writings both sad and funny. We will consider what kind of material is best suited for a comic work versus a tragic one, and we will embark on a variety of exercises designed to find the point where the two meet. Each student will complete at least two pieces of creative writing in the genre of their choice while participating in a supportive community of exchange with their peers. This course is suitable for writers of all levels who possess a willingness to have fun while still tackling the tough stuff.

Rachel Smith, Former William Chace Lecturer in Continuing Studies; Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Rachel Smith’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Seattle Times, The Rumpus, Brevity, and The Coachella Review. She has received residencies and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Marquette Residency, and the Elizabeth George Foundation and has taught creative writing at Stanford, the University of San Francisco, and the University of Mississippi, where she received an MFA in creative writing.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Nick Flynn, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (ISBN 9780393051391 )
(Recommended) Steve Kaplan, The Hidden Tools of Comedy (ISBN 9781615931408 )
(Recommended) Alice LaPlante, The Making of a Story (ISBN 9780393337082 )
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)