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Writing Workshops

Form and Function: How to Leverage Structure in Creative Nonfiction with Theresa Lin


8 Sessions

In stock

Once a week Mondays, 6:00 pm EDT - 8:00 pm EDT June 3 to July 22, 2024

Online via Zoom

While the facts in nonfiction cannot change, our structural decisions—to follow one scene with another or to move between the historical, literary, and personal—dramatically inform their context and impact. In this course, we will chart the progression of various works by pioneers of the form, including: Claudia Rankine, Joan Didion, Joseph Mitchell, Vladimir Nabokov, Gary Shteyngart, Leslie Jamison, James Wood, and Maggie Nelson, among others. In doing so, we will practice reverse engineering existing literary structures in order that participants identify useful forms to adapt for their own essays or memoirs.

Course Outline

Each two-hour session will be broken down as follows:

  • Part I:
    • 30-minute discussion
    • 20-minute exercise inspired by aspects of the specific text
    • 10-minute share out
  • Part II :
    • 1-hour workshop student work, incorporating language on craft introduced in the course

Weekly schedule:

  • Session I: Gary Shteyngart: Little Failure: A study on crafting inciting moments in memoir
  • Session II: Claudia Rankine: Citizen and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: A study on fragments and moving between the historical/social and the personal
  • Session III: Joan Didion: Selected essays from Slouching Toward Bethlehem: A study on minimizing the self and following lines of questions
  • Session IV: Leslie Jamison: Selected portions from: The Recovering: A study on moving between the historical/social and personal
  • Session V: James Wood: Selected essays from Serious Noticings: A study on writing literary criticism as literature, itself
  • Session VI: Maggie Nelson: Bluets: A study on moving between literary/artistic inquiry and the personal
  • Session VII: Joseph Mitchell: Selected Essays from Up in the Old Hotel: A study on features and the relationship between person and place
  • Session VIII: Vladimir Nabokov: Speak Memory: A study on proportion—when and how to indulge in one memory over another
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Led by

  • Screen Shot 2024-01-16 at 8.42.34 PM - Theresa Lin

    Theresa Lin

    Theresa Lin

    Theresa Lin received her MFA in Fiction from Columbia University, where she was awarded the De Alba Fellowship by Writing Program faculty for an excerpt of her novel manuscript. She is represented by Janklow and Nesbit and lectures at The Cooper Union. She has previously taught at Fordham, Rutgers, and Columbia and her writing has been featured in the LA Review of Books, Off Assignment, Racquet, Oh Reader, Storm Cellar, Truthout, Smart Set, and Random Sample Review, among others.