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CNF 68 W — Memoir Writing: Turning Your Life into Literary Gold

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 11—Mar 19
Drop Deadline: Jan 14
Units: 3
Tuition: $910
Instructor(s): Valerie Brelinski
Limit: 20
Status: Registration opens Nov 30, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
Winter
Flex Online(About Formats)
Date(s)
Jan 11—Mar 19
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 14
3 Units
Fees
$910
Instructor(s):
Valerie Brelinski
Limit
20
Registration opens Nov 30, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
If literature’s primary purpose is to help humans understand and empathize with each other, then memoir deserves a preeminent place on our literary shelves. But how do we mine our own lived memories for moments that not only will make for page-turning reading, but also will change minds, hearts, and—even more importantly—perspectives? And how do we go about turning these specific events from our lives into intriguing, relatable, and cohesive chapters of writing? This course will enable you to recognize the raw material in your own life and provide you with the authorial tools to alchemize this personal “base matter” into literary gold. Through reading and analyzing the ways in which memoirists such as Azar Nafisi, Augusten Burroughs, Tara Westover, Tobias Wolff, Cheryl Strayed, and Kiese Laymon use humor, self-critical honesty, and epiphany, we will become acquainted with the techniques and approaches that can make memoir so enlightening and even provocative. Weekly writing exercises will allow us to practice forming our authorial attitude, voice, and tone; in-class workshops will help us gain experience in editing and revising. Class textbooks will include The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr and Educated by Tara Westover.

This course is appropriate for writers of all levels.

Valerie Brelinski, Former Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer, Stanford

Valerie Brelinski is the author of the novel The Girl Who Slept with God. She is currently finishing her first memoir, Minimum Security, an examination of her first husband’s incarceration for bank robbery. Her shorter writing has been published in Vogue, More, Salon, Publishers Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, Fiction, The Rumpus, and The Virginia Quarterly Review. Brelinski has taught creative writing at UC Davis and the University of Virginia, from where she received an MFA in fiction writing. 

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Tara Westover, Education (ISBN 978-0399590504)
(Required) Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir (ISBN 978-0062223074)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)