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CNF 40 — Writing Creative Nonfiction: Fearless and Authentic Narratives

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 1—Jun 10
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm
Drop Deadline: Apr 14
Units: 3
Tuition: $665
Instructor(s): Matthew Siegel
Limit: 21
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class on May 27
6:30—9:20 pm
Apr 1—Jun 10
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 14
3 Units
Matthew Siegel
Please Note: No class on May 27
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, and Audre Lorde 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, which received the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry and was also a finalist for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection from 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, PBS NewsHour, The Rumpus, Tin House, Washington Square Review, and elsewhere. Siegel received an MFA from the University of Houston. He teaches writing and literature at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story
(Required) William Zinsser, Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir (ISBN 9780395901502)
(Required) Lex Williford and Michael Martone (editors), Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction (ISBN 978-1416531746)
(Required) Ryan Van Meter, If You Knew Then What I Know Now (ISBN 9781932511949)
(Required) Claudia Rankine, Citizen (ISBN 9781555976903)
(Required) Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior (ISBN 9780679721888)