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CNF 09 — Writing the Memoir: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 5—Jun 7
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm
Drop Deadline: Apr 18
Units: 3
Tuition: $660
Instructor(s): John W. Evans
Limit: 21
Status: Open
6:30—9:20 pm
Apr 5—Jun 7
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 18
3 Units
John W. Evans
In this course, we will practice the art and craft of writing memoir: works of prose inspired by the memory of personal experiences and history. Each week, we will match two or three contemporary examples in the genre with one of the groundbreaking historical precedents that shaped the memoir as we read and write it today. In doing so, we will practice many different ways to approach writing your own memoir essays, chapters, and books. The course will also address how we select and write about events from our personal lives. We will read works of memoir by Leslie Jamison, Roz Chast, Joan Didion, John Updike, Charles D’Ambrosio, Cheryl Strayed, Augustine, Rousseau, Patricia Hampl, Mary McCarthy, Tim O’Brien, Eavan Boland, Annie Dillard, and many other authors. About half of our class time will be devoted to the discussion of student work, and students will do in-class writing each week. All students will have the opportunity to present for workshop two shorter writing sketches, and also one longer draft of a memoir chapter or essay. Writers at all levels of experience and comfort with creative writing are welcome. Energetic and committed participation is a must.

John W. Evans, Former Stegner Fellow; Draper Lecturer in Creative Writing, Stanford

John W. Evans is the author of three books. His latest, Should I Still Wish: A Memoir, was selected for the American Lives series. Young Widower: A Memoir received the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize and a Foreword Reviews INDIES Prize. The Consolations: Poems was named the 2015 Peace Corps Writers Best Poetry Book. His work has appeared in Slate, The Missouri Review, Boston Review, Zyzzyva, Poets & Writers, and The Best American Essays, and he is the author of the chapbooks No Season and Zugzwang.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.