The University of Iowa

Private Writing in Public Spaces

Weeklong July 12 to July 17 2020

A writer’s creative output is not strictly limited to novels, poems, plays, stories, and other traditional literary forms, but may also include texts historically viewed as private documents: diaries, letters, personal reflections. In this class, we will consider these latter forms as literature unto themselves, along with interviews and public performances of the creative self, small-scale and large. We will focus on interviews and conversations by authors including David Sedaris, Lorraine Hansberry, and Patti Smith. We will look at journals and letters by Flannery O’Connor, Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, to examine how the creation of the artistic self is informed by private writings and correspondences. We will write our own journals and letters, and conduct and transcribe interviews with peers on the events of the day. This class is recommended for students with an interest in literary biography and ephemera, as well as experimental generative practices.


In this workshop, we will generate new writing through exercises and assignments.

Hybrid Forms