Fall 2018

PLUS286

The Presence of Memory: Making Sense of Your Life Through Writing (55+)

Whether you want to write about your life for your family or because you think you have a story worth telling, writing a memoir can be a way of meeting your “self” face to face. Most of us recognize we have many selves that come to the fore involuntarily, depending on the context we find ourselves in.

Which self is going to be the narrator of your life story and which one the protagonist? Learn how to write about your lived experience in a way that keeps you writing and your reader reading.

Note: Back by popular demand, from fall 2016.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Course no longer available.

What will I learn?

Week 1: Strike the Right Chord

Sound is the first sense to come into play when we are still in our mother's womb. It is also the last one to go. How do we sound on the page when we are writing about our past experiences? We explore voice, the range of tone, rhythm and syntax through in-class exercises, discussion and home assignments that best suit the telling of our unique story.

Week 2: Why Truth is Stronger than Fiction
Fact literally means “the thing done” but you don't have to be an avid reader or viewer of detective stories to know how tangled threads can become between then and now. Fiction's etymological root means to knead, to form out of clay. The act of creation is an imaginative one and the right form can provide the container for a story that hits the mark.

Week 3: Present Sense
Our past, like the proverbial iceberg, is 90% unknown. The 10% we recall and want to record is being told from our present sense of who we are and what we are about. This session looks at ways our present impinges on and shapes the past and how to discover what's hidden below the surface.

Week 4: Raise the Bar
Memoir has become a highly popular genre. Similarly, documentaries are rivaling feature movies at international film festivals. In this class we look at excerpts from different forms of memoir to see what resonates for us, and we experiment with our own writing to help our story take flight.

Week 5: Alchemy Between Writer and Reader
We work in more depth with the writing you have been doing during the first three weeks of this course. In small groups and in general discussion we give and receive constructive feedback, to allow you to hear from the vantage of a reader's perception.

Week 6: The Proof is in The Pudding
All the tools we have been using throughout this course now come into play. This is the chance for each writer to read a honed piece of their writing to the group and to receive feedback from the group. A six-week course can be the jumping off point for your writing. We also look at strategies to keep you writing.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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