University of Iowa

The Shape of Time in Memoir

Weeklong June 24 to June 29 2018

In his The Art of Time in Memoir, Sven Birkerts writes, “The manipulation of the double vantage point is the memoirist’s single most powerful and adaptable technique.” Our workshop will emphasize the “then” and “now” of this double vantage point, focusing on how writing a memoir begins with a compilation of many pieces—research material or anecdotes or stepping-stones or moments held in memory. Designed for those who are sketching out these moments, this workshop will consider ways to “fashion a text,” as Annie Dillard says, by looking back at “fragmentary patches of color and feeling” from a “now” vantage point to discover what different kind of sense these past events make over time. We will also read a few short nonfiction examples to see how they employ a “double vantage point.” But the majority of the workshop will be given to reading your work by an informed and sympathetic audience. Plan to bring two short pieces of your work in progress, a variety of questions, and a curiosity about how all this is accomplished.