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CNF 79 W — Memory to Memoir: Crafting Compelling Stories from Difficult Experiences

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): Daniel Barban Levin
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
Daniel Barban Levin
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
How do we use the tools of great writing to tell the stories that feel the riskiest to us, the bravest, the most difficult to articulate, the stories we least and most want to share? This course is for anyone with memories ranging from a single experience to a life story that they are having trouble putting into words, but which they feel they must dislodge. These are the stories most worth telling, the perspectives worth sharing.

During this course, students will participate in weekly discussions of readings meant to stimulate new thinking as to how to articulate the past—how to transform, as Louise Glück says, “the mutilator [into] the benefactor.” Every two weeks, students will submit drafts of their new work to be workshopped in small groups, with the goal of completing one to three essays, or chapters of longer memoir projects, by the end of the course.

While this course will focus on the writing of memoiristic prose, readings may be drawn from a variety of intersecting disciplines. Diverse, creative approaches that utilize the tools of multiple genres will be encouraged. Readings will include works by Anne Boyer, Dave Eggers, Saidiya Hartman, D.J. Waldie, Marie Howe, Mary Karr, Maggie Nelson, and Claudia Rankine, among others.


Daniel Barban Levin is the author of Slonim Woods 9, a memoir about his experience joining and escaping a cult. He received an MFA in poetry from UC Irvine. He is the recipient of the Lipkin Prize for Poetry and the Lynn Garnier Memorial Award, and his writing has appeared in Provincetown Arts, Bat City Review, the Sarah Lawrence Review, The Westchester Review, Offbeat, and The Fourth River.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Lynda Barry, What It Is (ISBN 978-1897299357)
(Required) Joe Brainard, Joe Brainard: I Remember (ISBN 978-1887123488)
(Required) D.J. Waldie, Holy Land: : A Suburban Memoir (ISBN 978-0393327281)
(Required) Anne Boyer, The Undying (ISBN 978-1250757982)
(Recommended) Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (ISBN 978-0375725784 )
(Recommended) Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (ISBN 978-1555976903)
(Recommended) Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts (ISBN 978-1555977351)
(Recommended) Dani Shapiro, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love (ISBN 978-0525434030 )