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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 23—Dec 6
Drop Deadline: Sep 26
Units: 3
Tuition: $910
Instructor(s): Joshua Rivkin
Limit: 17
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class the week of November 25

Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is September 26th at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is October 1st at 5:00 pm (PT).
Fall
Date(s)
Sep 23—Dec 6
10 weeks
Drop By
Sep 26
3 Units
Fees
$910
Instructor(s):
Joshua Rivkin
Limit
17
Closed
Please Note: No class the week of November 25

Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is September 26th at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is October 1st 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, Hanif Abdurraqib, 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 is the author of two books, Chalk: The Art and Erasure of Cy Twombly and Suitor, which is forthcoming. His work appears regularly in The New Yorker, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Slate, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. He received a PhD in literature and creative writing from USC.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) ed. Lex Williford and Michael Matron
, Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present, 2nd edition (ISBN 1416531742)
(Required) Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative (ISBN 0374528586)
(Required) Lacy Johnson, The Reckonings (ISBN 1501159011)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)