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CNF 23 W — Mastering the Personal Essay with the Masters

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 25—Dec 8
Drop Deadline: Sep 28
Units: 3
Tuition: $880
Instructor(s): Rachel Howard
Limit: 17
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class the week of November 20. Update: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 9/28 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 10/3 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Fall
Date(s)
Sep 25—Dec 8
10 weeks
Drop By
Sep 28
3 Units
Fees
$880
Instructor(s):
Rachel Howard
Limit
17
Closed
Please Note: No class the week of November 20. Update: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 9/28 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 10/3 at 5:00 pm (PT).
The personal essay allows us to take a small moment of life and use it as a portal into deep questions of human experience: No wonder the genre is in a moment of high renaissance! In this course, we will approach the personal essay the way painters approach their discipline: by first analyzing, then “copying” our forebears. To accomplish this, as a class we will devote one full week to closely reading short essays by such diverse writers as Grace Paley, Ann Daum, Dinty Moore, Joan Didion, and James Baldwin. The following week, you will draft one “imitation”—an original work that borrows the published writer’s structure or style—for feedback from your classmates and the instructor. By week six, you will have written three personal essays. Then, for the final month, you will tap your own personal mix of influences to produce an essay that will be workshopped by the entire class. Along the way, you will learn to mine your richest material, make the most of thought-provoking images, and craft endings that resonate. By “imitating” the masters, you will, paradoxically, find your unique voice.

Rachel Howard, Author

Rachel Howard is the author of a memoir about her father’s unsolved murder, The Lost Night. Her personal essays have appeared in Gulf Coast, Waxwing, The Arroyo Literary Review, O, The Oprah Magazine, Berfrois, Canteen, The New York Times “Draft” series, and elsewhere. She received an MFA in fiction from Warren Wilson College, and later served there as interim director of undergraduate creative writing. She has also taught in the MFA program of Saint Mary’s College.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Judith Kitchen (Editor), Short Takes (ISBN 0393326004)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)