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EGL 121 W — The Family Story

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 16—Mar 23
Drop Deadline: Jan 19
Units: 3
Tuition: $880
Instructor(s): Dana Kletter
Limit: 17
Status: Registration opens on 12/04/2017
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 1/19 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 1/24 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Winter
Date(s)
Jan 16—Mar 23
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 19
3 Units
Fees
$880
Instructor(s):
Dana Kletter
Limit
17
Registration opens on 12/04/2017
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 1/19 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 1/24 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Who are you, and how did you become you? What forces were at work in forming your identity? In this course, we will take on the challenging topic of the family, and how to approach capturing our truths in all their complexity. What can you gain from writing a family story? A playful essay? The first draft of a memoir? The beginnings of a multigenerational epic? A greater understanding of yourself. Consider David Sedaris’s hilarious true tales of his big crazy Greek clan. Or Cheryl Strayed’s chronicle of loss and redemption. Or Patti Smith’s account of the tribe she constructed from the artists and outsiders who lived in the Chelsea Hotel. All take chosen memories and spin them into strong and affecting family narratives.

In this course, we will first zero in on the story you want to tell, using freewriting, prompts, imitations, lists, and journaling. Then—through the study of literary devices like character, setting, scene, voice, and persona—we will translate our lived worlds into dynamic works on the page. We will use other writers’ techniques as inspiration and instruction. Texts will range from extremely humorous to emotionally challenging, kind of like families themselves. Every student will have a chance to present a seven- to ten-page draft to a full-class workshop, and to revise, based on feedback as well as the writer’s own vision for their essay.

Dana Kletter, Jones Lecturer in Fiction; Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Dana Kletter’s work has appeared in The Sun, the Michigan Quarterly Review, Five Chapters, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Phoenix, and the Independent. She is a former fiction editor of the Stanford Storytelling Project. Kletter received an MFA from the University of Michigan.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Judith Barrington, Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, 2nd Edition (ISBN 0933377509)
(Required) Tobias Wolff, This Boy's Life (ISBN 0802136680)
(Required) Vivian Gornick, Fierce Attachments (ISBN 0374529965)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)