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EGL 102 W — Narrative Healing: Shaping Trauma into Story

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 21—Aug 27
Refund Deadline: Jun 24
Units: 3
Tuition: $910
Instructor(s): Thomas McNeely
Limit: 20
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens May 17, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Jun 21—Aug 27
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jun 24
3 Units
Thomas McNeely
Registration opens May 17, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
According to Sven Birkerts’s The Art of Time in Memoir, every story about our past has two narrators: one conveys the visceral experience, the other makes sense of that experience. In writing about traumatic events, we engage these two narrators in an ongoing dialogue that grants the reader access to the experience and gives us as writers control in shaping the story. This course, for both fiction and nonfiction writers, will offer practical instruction in this narrative practice, as well as in other narrative strategies used to write about trauma. Drawing on contemporary research, our writing exercises and reading assignments will help us shape stories about traumatic experience in terms of voice, persona, metaphor, emotional distance, and point of view. Additionally, we will grapple with how to render in words the “affective trace" of traumatic memory. We will look to such authors as Mary Karr, Jayne Anne Phillips, and Sylvia Plath to see how they employ narrative techniques to depict traumatic events. Each week, students will complete writing assignments that develop their understanding of these techniques. These weekly assignments will be shared for constructive student and instructor feedback and will culminate in a longer story, essay, novel chapter, or memoir chapter.

Former Jones Lecturer and Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Thomas McNeely is the author of the novel Ghost Horse. His stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Ploughshares, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and other magazines and anthologies. His work has been shortlisted for The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and the Pushcart Prize, and he has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Prose. McNeely received an MFA from Emerson College.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Mary Karr, The Liar's Club (ISBN 978-1556594953)
(Recommended) Ocean Vuong, Night Sky With Exit Wounds (ISBN 978-1556594953)
(Recommended) Brian Teare, The Room Where I Was Born (ISBN 978-0299194048)