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CNF 40 — Writing Creative Nonfiction: Fearless and Authentic Narratives

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Jun 30—Aug 18
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jul 2
Units: 2
Tuition: $595
Instructor(s): Matthew Siegel
Limit: 22
Class Recording Available: No
Status: Registration opens May 17, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Jun 30—Aug 18
8 weeks
Refund Date
Jul 2
2 Units
Matthew Siegel
Registration opens May 17, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
… 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 before put down on paper, 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, Kiese Laymon, 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.

Professor of Humanities and Sciences, San Francisco Conservatory of Music; Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Matthew Siegel is the author of Blood Work, which received the Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry and was 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, PBS NewsHour, The Rumpus, the San Francisco Chronicle, Tin House, and elsewhere. Siegel received an MFA from the University of Houston.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Lex Wilford and Michael Martone, Eds., Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction (ISBN 978-1416531746)
(Required) William Zinsser, Ed., Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir (ISBN 978-0395901502)
(Required) Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story (ISBN 978-0374528584)