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

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 20—Aug 26
Refund Deadline: Jun 23
Units: 3
Tuition: $910
Instructor(s): Valerie Brelinski
Limit: 17
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Jun 20—Aug 26
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jun 23
3 Units
Valerie Brelinski
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
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.

This course is appropriate for writers of all levels.

Former Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer, Stanford

Valerie Brelinski is the author of the novel The Girl Who Slept with God. She is 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 Stanford, UC Davis, and the University of Virginia, where she received an MFA in fiction writing.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Tara Westover, Educated: A Memoir (ISBN 978-0399590528)
(Required) Mary Karr, The Art of Memoir (ISBN 978-0062223074 )