Summer 2008
Fully Enrolled

HUMS 618
Writing Memoir/Telling Tales: The Personal Voice in Essays and Fiction

Greene,Anne F.

06/23/2008 - 08/01/2008
Monday & Wednesday 05:30 PM - 08:00 PM

Downey 100

In this course we will experiment with voice and tone, helping you find a range of ways to become a lively, engaging presence on the page. We begin by examining memoirs, mainly to see how the narrators become trustworthy or (deliberately) unreliable as observers. Sidestepping the debate about whether writers lie, we will focus on your choices when you write: will you speak as an immediate, personal presence in your piece or will you choose to write from a more distant perspective? In what ways do such choices mark your piece as a memoir, personal essay, or short story?

Course readings demonstrate the uses of the personal narrator in a broader range of essays, life histories, and short stories. We will read selections from several editions of Best American Short Stories, Phillip Lopate's The Art of the Personal Essay, and memoirs by Annie Dillard, Joan Didion, Vivian Gornick, Robert Stone, and others.

Writing exercises will offer students a choice of personal essays, memoir, and/or short fiction. Students are also welcome to bring ongoing projects and substitute them for the course assignments. Both new and experienced writers are welcome.

Anne Greene (B.A. Radcliffe College, M.A. Brandeis University) is adjunct professor of English, director of writing programs, and director of the Wesleyan Writers Conference. She was awarded the 2006 Binswanger prize for excellence in teaching. Click here for more information about Anne Greene.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Andre Aciman, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (Picador), Paperback

Joan Didion, SLOUCHING TOWARDS BETHLEHEM (Modern Library), Hardcover

Annie Dillard, AN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD (Harper), Paperback

Jhumpa Lahiri, INTERPRETER OF MALADIES (Mariner Books), Paperback

Phillip Lopate, THE ART OF THE PERSONAL ESSAY (Anchor Books), Paperback

Tim O'Brien, THE THINGS THEY CARRIED (Penguin), Paperback

Mary McCarthy, MEMORIES OF A CATHOLIC GIRLHOOD (Harvest Books), Paperback

Susan Orlean, THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2005 (Houghton Mifflin), Paperback

Ann Patchett, THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2006 (Houghton Mifflin), Paperback


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