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CNF 72 WB — Memoir Writing: Finding Your Voice

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 10—Mar 18
Refund Deadline: Jan 13
Units: 3
Tuition: $910
Instructor(s): Rebecca Schuman
Limit: 17
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Closed
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Jan 10—Mar 18
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 13
3 Units
Rebecca Schuman
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
You don't need to be a celebrity or the survivor of a once-in-a-lifetime tragedy to draw readers to the story of your life. In fact, “regular” people are often the best memoirists. Instead of relying on a famous name (or a ghostwriter!), we can devote ourselves to the single most important element in any memoir: a strong, inimitable voice that makes the reader instantly feel they know you—or want to. In this course, you will not simply narrate your life story. You will learn to tell that story the way only you can, by learning to identify—and then set on the page—your unique vocabulary, slang, sentence length, and cadence. Each week, we will engage with some of the most compelling memoir voices in print, including Mary Karr, Jesmyn Ward, and Tobias Wolff. Students will respond creatively to two prompts per week designed to develop a particular aspect of their writerly voice, and present one piece per week to a small-group workshop moderated by the instructor. In the second half of the course, students will submit a longer chapter or essay draft for further workshop and instructor feedback. The prompts are designed to be cumulative, so students will leave the course with new chapter drafts or revisions.


Rebecca Schuman is the author of the comic memoir Schadenfreude, A Love Story, a Spring 2017 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick, a People pick of the week, a Hudson Booksellers Best Book of 2017, and a Fodor’s Holiday Gift Guide selection. Her essays have appeared in Slate, Longreads, Quartz, Guernica, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. She received an MFA in writing from The New School and a PhD in German literature from UC Irvine.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Tobias Wolff, This Boy's Life (ISBN 978-0802149077)
(Required) Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped: A Memoir (ISBN 978-1608197651)
(Required) Augusten Burroughs, Dry: A Memoir (ISBN 9780312423797)
(Required) Samantha Irby, Wow, No Thank You.: Essays (ISBN 9780525563488)
(Recommended) Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir (ISBN 978-0062223074)