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CNF 27 W — Memoir Writing: Shaping Your Story

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 26—Sep 1
Drop Deadline: Jul 4
Units: 3
Tuition: $850
Instructor(s): Ammi Keller
Limit: 17
Jun 26—Sep 1
10 weeks
Drop By
Jul 4
3 Units
Ammi Keller
Many writers and would-be writers have stories to tell but struggle with a variety of questions about how to describe events and uncover their deeper meaning. What shape or structure will hold the writing as it develops? Are any details too personal or hurtful to include? What makes an experience feel universal? And who’s going to read this, anyway? In this course, open both to those with experience writing memoir and those wanting to try it for the first time, students will complete assignments designed to help them craft a narrating persona and voice, recreate sensory descriptions from memory, get lifelike dialogue onto the page, and find a publishable form for the material that emerges. We will discuss work by Joan Didion, Christina Crosby, Alexander Chee, Cheryl Strayed, Kaitlyn Greenidge, and Kiese Laymon to see how successful authors navigate the emotional and technical challenges posed by their material. Each writer will turn in part of a work in progress for a supportive full-class discussion of their piece’s themes and potential.

Although the time commitment for an online writing course is dependent upon one’s degree of participation, students should plan on investing four to six hours per week in order to gain substantial benefit from the course.

Ammi Keller, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Ammi Keller’s work appears in American Short Fiction, Joyland, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2015. She has edited fiction, nonfiction, and poetry at Soft Skull Press and St. Martin’s Press, and has received residencies from the Norton Island Colony and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Judith Barrington, Writing the Memoir, 2nd Edition (ISBN 0933377509)
(Recommended) Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped, Paperback (ISBN 1608197654)
(Recommended) Joy Castro, Family Trouble: Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Family (ISBN 0803246927)