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CNF 60 W — You Must Change Your Life: Essays That Matter and How to Write Them

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 24—Dec 7
Drop Deadline: Sep 27
Units: 3
Tuition: $895
Instructor(s): Joshua Rivkin
Limit: 17
Status: Registration opens on 08/20/2018
Please Note: No class the week of November 19. Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 9/27 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 7/2 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Fall
Date(s)
Sep 24—Dec 7
10 weeks
Drop By
Sep 27
3 Units
Fees
$895
Instructor(s):
Joshua Rivkin
Limit
17
Registration opens on 08/20/2018
Please Note: No class the week of November 19. Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 9/27 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 7/2 at 5:00 pm (PT).
The poet Rainer Maria Rilke, after looking at a sculpture of the torso of Apollo, wrote this famous line, a command to himself and the reader: “You must change your life.” This course is about reading and writing essays that make readers want to change their life. We will start by reading a wide variety of essays by such authors as Joan Didion, Brian Blanchfield, and Melissa Febos. We will consider more traditional personal essays, as well as lyric and experimental forms, asking why some essays move us profoundly while others we forget. We will use these essays as models for dynamic shorter writing exercises. By looking at scene development, persona, and character, as well as other craft aspects of creative nonfiction, students will develop their ability to write great essays. In the second part of the course, students will use these short exercises to craft a longer essay or chapter for honest and constructive feedback from their peers. Students will gain confidence in their writing and a wealth of new skills and techniques to take their writing to the next level.

Joshua Rivkin, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Joshua Rivkin’s work appears regularly in The New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, Slate, and The Southern Review. He has taught literature and creative writing at the University of Houston, Stanford, and USC. He received a fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, a Fulbright fellowship to Italy, and a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation to conduct research for his first book of nonfiction, CHALK: The Art and Erasure of Cy Twombly, which is forthcoming. Rivkin received a PhD in literature and creative writing from USC.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Lex Williford (Editor), Michael Martone (Editor), Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present (ISBN 1416531742)
(Required) Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative (ISBN 0374528586)
(Required) Lacy Johnson, The Reckonings: Essays (Note: This book will be published on Oct 9th. The class will be reading the book at the end of October. You can preorder now or purchase after Oct. 9th) (ISBN 1501159003)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)