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CNF 23 W — Personal Essay Workshop: Taking Inspiration from the Masters

Quarter: Summer
Instructor(s): Rachel Howard
Duration: 10 weeks
Format/Location: Flex Online
Date(s): Jun 24—Aug 30
Class Recording Available: Yes
Tuition: $1000
Refund Deadline: Jun 27
 
Unit(s): 3
   
Enrollment Limit: 19
  
Status: Open
 
Quarter: Summer
Unit(s): 3
Duration: 10 weeks
 
Date(s): Jun 24—Aug 30
 
Format/Location: Flex Online
 
Tuition: $1000
 
Refund Deadline: Jun 27
 
Instructor(s): Rachel Howard
 
Enrollment Limit: 19
 
Recording Available: Yes
 
Status: Open
 
The personal essay allows us to take a small moment of life and use it as a portal into deep questions of human experience. No wonder the genre is in a moment of high renaissance! In this course, we will approach the personal essay the way painters approach their discipline: by first analyzing, then “copying” our forebears. To accomplish this, as a class, we will devote one full week to closely reading short essays by such diverse writers as Grace Paley, Ann Daum, Dinty Moore, Terese Marie Mailhot, and James Baldwin. The following week, you will draft one “imitation”—an original work that borrows a published writer’s structure or style—for feedback from your classmates and the instructor. By week six, you will have written three personal essays. Then, for the final month, you will tap your own personal mix of influences to produce an essay that will be workshopped by the entire class. Along the way, you will learn to mine your richest material, make the most of thought-provoking images, and craft endings that resonate. By “imitating” the masters, you will, paradoxically, find your unique voice.

RACHEL HOWARD
Author

Rachel Howard is the author of a memoir about her father’s unsolved murder, The Lost Night, and a novel, The Risk of Us. Her personal essays and stories have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times "Draft" series, The Los Angeles Review of Books, StoryQuarterly, and O, The Oprah Magazine. She is the recipient of a 2024 National Endowment for the Arts literature fellowship and is working on a new memoir. Howard received an MFA in fiction from Warren Wilson College.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Judith Kitchen, ed., Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction (ISBN ‎978-0393326000)