The University of Iowa

Writing about Nowhere

Weekend July 18 to July 19 2020

This course will examine the rich tradition of nonfiction writing about place; however, it will immediately detour onto the road less traveled. We don’t all have stories of Paris or Kilimanjaro. Some of us care about Paducah or desolate prairies. What does a writer need to capture the tiny towns and empty spaces, the everyday Main Streets and failing factories to create engaging, layered essays that reach far-flung readers? By exploring useful gazes, forms, and examples, we will write about the places we have: the tiny Caribbean town you backpacked through, the barbershop your grandfather visited every Monday morning, the junkyard full of feral cats just down the street. We will also discuss journals and magazines interested in this writing about the common place. The instructor will give a prompt in advance of the workshop so that students will arrive with pieces to workshop.


In this workshop, we will generate new writing through exercises and assignments; critique writing you bring from home.