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CNF 68 W — It Happened to Me: The Art of the Memoir

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 23—Dec 6
Drop Deadline: Sep 26
Units: 3
Tuition: $910
Instructor(s): Valerie Brelinski
Limit: 17
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class the week of November 25

Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is September 26th at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is October 1st at 5:00 pm (PT).
Fall
Date(s)
Sep 23—Dec 6
10 weeks
Drop By
Sep 26
3 Units
Fees
$910
Instructor(s):
Valerie Brelinski
Limit
17
Closed
Please Note: No class the week of November 25

Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is September 26th at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is October 1st at 5:00 pm (PT).
If literature’s primary purpose is to help humans understand and empathize with each other, then memoir deserves a preeminent place on our literary shelves. But how do we mine our own lived memories for moments that not only will make for page-turning reading, but also will change minds, hearts, and—even more importantly—perspectives? And how do we go about turning these specific events from our lives into intriguing, relatable, and cohesive chapters of writing?

This course will allow you to recognize the raw material in your own life and provide you with the authorial tools to alchemize this personal “base matter” into literary gold. Through reading and analyzing the ways in which memoirists such as Azar Nafisi, Augusten Burrows, Tara Westover, Tobias Wolff, Cheryl Strayed, and Kiese Laymon use humor, self-critical honesty, and epiphany, we will become acquainted with the techniques and approaches that can make memoir so enlightening and even provocative. Weekly writing exercises will allow us to practice forming our authorial attitude, voice, and tone; in-class workshops will help us gain experience in editing and revising. Class textbooks will include The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr and Educated by Tara Westover. The course is appropriate for writers of all levels.

Valerie Brelinski, Former Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer, Stanford

Valerie Brelinski is the author of the novel The Girl Who Slept with God. She is currently finishing her first memoir, Minimum Security, an examination of her first husband’s incarceration for bank robbery. Her shorter writing has been published in Vogue, MORE, Salon, Publishers Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Fiction, The Rumpus, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. Brelinski has taught creative writing at Stanford, UC Davis, and the University of Virginia, and she received an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Virginia.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir (ISBN 978-0062223074)
(Required) Tara Westover, Educated: A Memoir (ISBN 978-0399590504)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)