Seminar In this course we will consider the bounty of form available to the writer drawing on remembered experience. Nonfiction writers are “limited to” the actual—what has happened as we remember it, the accounts of others, or research about the larger context of our experience. The constraints on form, however, are few, and writers continually invent and refine shapes that might hold (or transform) the ephemera of experience.
We will read essays, memoirs, and collections that employ narrative immediacy, collage, indirection, research, fiction, thematic reflection, and self-conscious formalism. Over the semester, we will ask questions such as: How might the right form introduce layers of meaning, energy, and ambiguity? How might form not just wittily or dramatically housecontent, but mold experience, merge with experience in the construction of a book or essay. Should form be the necessary but undetectable something that holds a work together, or should it announce itself, revealing the open dig that is memory?
The course will combine an analysis of form with exercises designed to help you find that delicate symbiosis between form and content in your own work.
Readings will include:
Body Toxic, Susanne Antonetta
Boys of My Youth, Jo Ann Beard
Here is Where We Meet, John Berger
Maps to Anywhere, Bernard Cooper
The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Nick Flynn