Creative Writing: Truth and Lives in Autobiography

Course Description:

How do personal history and storytelling intersect? To what extent is autobiography history? How do we tell the truth of our lives? What is the nature of identity, and how do culture and language influence our perceptions life? In this course, we will work to answer these questions while we investigate different modes of autobiography. In our discussions, postings and writing, we will consider how personal, social, economic, and cultural influences impact the narratives we write. As a class, we will read work that is evocative and compelling—this includes work that is innovative in form.

The class will experiment with writing autobiography by way of craft. Which means we will experiment with writing techniques: setting, scene, characterization, description, voice, and more. We will also question what truth-telling in nonfiction requires of the writer. Is there a truth-telling pact that writers make with their audience? Are there different perceptions of truth in story telling? In-class discussions will be lively, thoughtful, and considerate. In addition, there will be writing workshop days to work, re-work, re-see and re-vision drafts of your autobiographical writing. Homework will include posting well-thought out, critical, and engaging responses to readings and writing prompts. The responses will be posted to Laulima.

By the end of the semester, you will have a portfolio of your writing that illuminates your progression as a critical thinker as well as a writer of autobiography. This class will be engaging and dynamic!

Key Texts:

• Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
• Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo
• Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman
• The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston
• Zami by Audre Lorde

Additional supplementary reading will be posted to Laulima.

Class Requirements and Expectations (assignments & attendance/participation):

Weekly posts on Laulima
Weekly draft pages
In-class writing

Attendance Policy:

More than three unexcused absences will begin to lower your course grade by .25 per additional absence (a B will become a B- on your fourth absence).

If you have any question, please contact me at I am happy to answer any questions.