The Art and Craft of Memoir

with Gina Rae La Cerva

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Course Description

The nonfiction genre of memoir is a special and highly regarded literary form. Because we are all unique, writing from a first-person perspective allows us to explore a diversity of approaches to this highly adaptable medium.

Through close reading, group discussion, and focused writing, this online workshop examines the tools and approaches for writing memoir. Through generative prompts, you learn techniques for focusing your life stories. Whether you are working on personal essays, a longer memoir, or would just like to take a shot at writing more about personal experiences, this class guides you through the process.

Memoir relies on the subjective and unreliable nature of memory. Whether your life is a fascinating series of adventures, or a classic tale of everyday experiences, turning it into memoir requires the finesse of fiction while maintaining a reliance on the facts. With Gina Rae’s help, you develop an awareness of the types of memoir writing, learn about the aesthetics of memoir, and create your own writings. We cover the structure, themes, narrative devices, emotional tones, settings, and the unifying images of memoir. And we address perhaps the most important question: what to put in and what to leave out?

By relying on sensory detail, you become an editor of your own life, imposing a narrative on an unwieldy memory and a half-remembered past to craft moving and entertaining stories that reach to the heart and truth of what it means to be human.


Additional Information


This program is open to everyone, writers and photographers, at all levels.


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Writers Lab
Gina Rae La Cerva

Gina Rae La Cerva is an award-winning writer, geographer, and environmental anthropologist originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has researched tsunamis in Indonesia, crossed the Pacific Ocean on a sailboat, and traced the wild meat trade from the forests of the Congo Basin to the streets of Paris. Her first book, Feasting Wild: In Search of the Last Untamed Food, was recommended by the The New York Times and named an Amazon Best Book of the Year for 2020. Her personal essays have appeared in Emergence Magazine, THE Magazine, Sage Magazine, and various compilations. Gina Rae holds degrees from Yale University, the University of Cambridge, and Vassar College.


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