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CNF 103 W — Memoir Workshop: Writing about Small Things in Big Ways

Quarter: Summer
Instructor(s): Mike Scalise
Duration: 10 weeks
Format/Location: Flex Online
Date(s): Jun 24—Aug 30
Class Recording Available: Yes
Tuition: $1000
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Refund Deadline: Jun 27
 
Unit(s): 3
   
Enrollment Limit: 19
  
Status: Open
 
Quarter: Summer
Unit(s): 3
Duration: 10 weeks
 
Date(s): Jun 24—Aug 30
 
Format/Location: Flex Online
 
Tuition: $1000
 
Refund Deadline: Jun 27
 
Instructor(s): Mike Scalise
 
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
 
Enrollment Limit: 19
 
Recording Available: Yes
 
Status: Open
 
 
Writing about our personal lives can feel overwhelming. With so much lived material to choose from, where to begin? The tools to tell a meaningful personal story can be anywhere, even in our daily routines. This course is designed to help personal essayists and memoirists focus on daily routines, practices, and meaningful objects as a way to write about complex experiences, light topics that invite a deeper consideration, and everything in between. Students will study the personal writing of authors who managed to connect life’s most specific moments and the largesse of the world—whether it’s John Green on scratch-and-sniff stickers, Damon Young on greeting rituals, Alexander Chee on tarot, or Rachel Cusk on driving. Prompts, exercises, and group discussions will serve to generate three personal works (25 pages total), for peer and instructor feedback.

During weeks 1–3, we’ll write a “recommendation” essay (as in The New York Times), and in weeks 4–6, we’ll formulate an “against” essay. We’ll close the course by working on a memoir-style meditation on an object or practice, to explore how it helps you both to live in and make sense of our present moment. Students will leave this course versed in the fascinating landscape of stories driven by the everyday and understanding the next steps for how to publish their own.

MIKE SCALISE
Author

Mike Scalise’s memoir, The Brand New Catastrophe, received the Christopher Doheny Award from the Center for Fiction and praise from The New York Times, BuzzFeed, and The Baltimore Sun. He’s written for The New York Times, IndieWire, The Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere. He received an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University and was the Philip Roth Writer in Residence at Bucknell University.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.