Craft of Nonfiction


In some ways, the memoir blitz that began in the 1990s created a mistaken notion that writing about the self is a modern invention. The contemporary memoir may be a modern invention of the publishing industry (hypotheses abound that it was partly borne of a marketing ploy to deal with the abundance of autobiographical first novels being written by graduates of MFA programs at the time), but writing about the self has a solid history behind it. While this course will begin with and focus on the contemporary memoir, we will also consider its precursors and look at examples that chart the history of autobiographical writing from its beginnings as confessions through its longstanding era as autobiography to its current moment as memoir. We will read contemporary memoirs representing the major subcategories of the genre, including coming of age memoirs, memoirs of illness and trauma, travel memoirs, occupational memoirs, memoirs about family, and experimental memoirs. To consider the differences that occur when one writes about the self as a fictional construct versus a nonfictional one, we will also look at some contemporary memoirs that were originally published as novels and rewritten and republished decades later as memoirs. Throughout the semester students will write short works of memoir aimed at generating material for potential book-length works as well as one longer final project. Preference given to students in the MFA Creative Writing Program. 3 units.
Course Attributes:

Section 01

Craft of Nonfiction
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