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CNF 40 — Writing Creative Nonfiction: Fearless and Authentic Narratives

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Jul 10—Aug 14
Time: 6:30—9:30 pm
Drop Deadline: Jul 23
Unit: 1
Tuition: $490
Instructor(s): Matthew Siegel
Limit: 21
6:30—9:30 pm
Jul 10—Aug 14
6 weeks
Drop By
Jul 23
1 Unit
Matthew Siegel
… it is clear that we must trust what is difficult … —Rainer Maria Rilke

This course is designed to guide, support, and motivate students toward writing their most authentic and important stories. We will write and explore personal narratives that deal with a range of difficult subjects such as illness, desire, the physical body, death, and obsession. Students will be encouraged to support and motivate one another, creating a safe, comfortable environment to open up about stories never put down on paper before, or perhaps never even told. We will examine a variety of narrative strategies and techniques including building from personal artifacts as well as experimenting with point of view and critical distance. Close study of contemporary writers such as Joan Didion, Mark Doty, James Baldwin, Cheryl Strayed, Audre Lorde, and Charles D’Ambrosio will elucidate issues of voice, style, technique, and structure. We will examine personal narratives that find meaning in the extreme as well as the mundane. Writing prompts and exercises will culminate in a longer submission for workshop. This course is appropriate for the seasoned writer preparing for publication as well as the novice looking to explore this type of writing for the first time.

Matthew Siegel, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Matthew Siegel is the author of Blood Work, winner of the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. Blood Work was also a finalist for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection by the Forward Arts Foundation in the UK. Siegel’s poems and essays have appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, The Guardian, Indiana Review, The Rumpus, Southern Humanities Review, Tin House, Washington Square Review, and elsewhere. Siegel received an MFA from the University of Houston. He teaches writing at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior (ISBN 9780679721888)
(Required) Claudia Rankine, Citizen (ISBN 9781555976903)
(Required) Ryan Van Meter, If You Knew Then What I Know Now (ISBN 9781932511949)
(Required) Etgar Keret, The Seven Good Years (ISBN 978-0399576003)
(Required) Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story (ISBN 0374528586)