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CNF 271 — The Art of Memoir

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: On-campus course
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Jun 29—Aug 10
Time: 6:30—9:30 pm
Drop Deadline: Jul 12
Units: 2
Tuition: $475
Instructor(s): Caroline Goodwin
Limit: 21
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class on July 27
On-campus course
6:30—9:30 pm
Jun 29—Aug 10
6 weeks
Drop By
Jul 12
2 Units
Caroline Goodwin
Please Note: No class on July 27
Using the memoir form, writers have the opportunity to assemble patterns of meaning from personal experience—reflecting deeply on the past to bring a life, or many lives, into focus. While the best memoirs may read like novels or short stories, full of scenes, dialogue, characters, and atmosphere, the memoirist also bears the truth-telling responsibilities of the nonfiction writer. In this hands-on course for writers of any level, students will begin to develop their individual artistic voices, claiming and exploring their own life experiences on the page. In-class prompts and weekly notebook assignments, aimed at developing the voice, will focus on the art of the memoir and the central questions: What makes a memoir work? What keeps a reader engaged? Sven Birkerts’s The Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again will serve as our primary text, supplemented by the memoirs of Joy Harjo and Darin Strauss. Students will receive meaningful feedback every week from the instructor and from their peers, and can expect to complete this course with a concrete plan for future writing.

Caroline Goodwin, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Caroline Goodwin’s poems and essays have been published in the New Republic, Junction Box, Puerto del Sol, PRISM international, and others. She is the author of the poetry collections Text Me, Ishmael, Trapline, Peregrine, and The Paper Tree. From 2014 to 2016, she served as San Mateo County’s first Poet Laureate. She received an MFA from the University of British Columbia.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Joy Harjo, Crazy Brave (ISBN 978-0393345438)
(Required) Darin Strauss , Half a Life (ISBN 978-0812982534)
(Required) Sven Birkerts, The Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again (ISBN 978-1555974893)