University of Iowa

Memoir: On Self & Society

Weeklong June 17 to June 22 2018

We all have stories inside of us. Stories to tell, to share. In fact, one might argue that we are stories—creating our lives, day to day, every day. One of today’s most exciting writing forms—the personal memoir—is swiftly becoming the narrative option and publishing entry for many writers willing to embark on journeys of self.


Yet for a memoir to speak with any resonance or relevance, the writer must achieve a fragile balance between the self and others, between content and form. In this workshop, we will look at each manuscript from the standpoint of localizing what in your individual tale has a communal and cultural context. Then we’ll explore the varied narrative means and structures available to us to best convey that tale.


We’ll also consider such questions as: What precisely is the difference between a reflective and narrative voice? Between fact and truth? Between the private and the public? Expect model readings, discussions, and varied written exercises designed to help tap and shape your own life stories. The class invites writers working on book-length memoirs and/or individual essays.