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CNF 46 W — Memoir: Turning Your Life into Literature

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): Julia Scheeres
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):
Julia Scheeres
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).
How do you take the messy stuff of life and shape it into a compelling, streamlined story? The answer—on display in every beautiful, compelling memoir—is both complicated and completely natural. In short, memoir lies at the intersection of fiction and nonfiction, truth and art.

In this course, we will explore the boundaries of our own stories. We will dig deep into our memories to identify the best material—the drama, turning points, tension, character, and story arcs of our lives. We will discuss the importance of theme and throughlines. We will hone our craft, learning how to create powerful scenes, deft summaries, and insightful reflection and backstory. Along the way, we’ll glean wisdom from close readings of memoirs by Ishmael Beah, Cheryl Strayed, Tobias Wolff, Sonali Deraniyagala, and others. Weekly writing prompts will build toward a ten-page excerpt, which will be workshopped in the second half of the course. Students will come away from this course with a sturdy foundation on which to model the rest of their manuscript.

Julia Scheeres, Author

Julia Scheeres is the author of the memoir Jesus Land, which was a New York Times and London Times bestseller. Her second book, A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Jonestown, was the Northern California Independent Booksellers Nonfiction Book of the Year and was recently optioned for a movie. Her essays and articles have appeared in outlets ranging from Elle magazine to The New York Times Magazine. She is a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Sonali Deraniyagala, Wave (ISBN 978-0345804310)
(Required) Tobias Wolf, This Boy's Life (ISBN 978-0802136688)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)