Description of Class
Last century, if you had a lived experience that you wanted to write about, you either dressed it up and called it fiction or you wrote the kind of dry police blotter procedurals that were the norm for memoir (“I was born on this date at this latitude and that longitude to a family whose census is as follows:”).
Memoir was never given the chance to be genuinely weird. Luckily that time is past.
This class will try and push the boundaries of what we understand of as memoir. Come to the class with that big pivotal life experience you’ve always wanted to write about or come to class without what people see as the big life events. Maybe you burned your hand once when you were making potato gnocchi, and the pain of it made you remember the way every night your father put the coins from his pocket into the little dish by his bedside, and it doesn’t make sense why a burn from boiling water would make you think of your father and the rattle scrape of the coins as they collapsed into the ceramic dish, but what are you going to do? Throw out all the experiences of your life that don’t make logical sense? This class will be a kind of reclamation project for those memories and experiences that don’t easily add up.
What would it look like to have a memoir in which the life is allowed to be overheard. What truths do we get when we don’t stare at our lives directly?
We’ll experiment with different ways of seeing our life stories. A life told by the objects on our nightstands. A life told through rejection letters. A life told through bumper stickers. We will be at our most irreverent today. Sometimes we have to see our lives as absurd in order to recognize the subliminal truths that have been embedded in the broadcast of our lives.
We’re going to look at sections of William Maxwell’s novel So Long, See You Tomorrow as well as excerpts from Albert Camus and Laurie Slater.
Food. Taking a cue from MFK Fisher we’ll figure out how to incorporate the food that marks out the boundaries of self. The good, the bad, the junk, the exquisite, and the guilty delicious.
We’ll look at James Baldwin, both his explicitly autobiographical essays as well as some of his fictional work.
This is Jo Ann Beard day. We’ll look at some of her essays and excerpts from her novel Inzanesville.
The class will include Workshopping, 1 on 1 conferences, and writing in class as well as out of class assignments.Top