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

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 9—Mar 17
Refund Deadline: Jan 12
Units: 3
Tuition: $955
Instructor(s): Rachel Smith
Limit: 17
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Jan 9—Mar 17
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 12
3 Units
Rachel Smith
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
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 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.

Former William Chace Lecturer in Continuing Studies and Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Rachel Smith’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Seattle Times, The Rumpus, Brevity, and elsewhere. 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: A Memoir (ISBN 978-0393329407)