2022 – Spring

Personal Essay

Course Number: JOUR-GA 1182.014

Day & Time: Mon | 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Location: 20 Cooper Square, Room 653

Instructor: Perri Klass

This course looks at the personal essay–thoughtful, thoroughly researched and reported, well-written–and considers the possibility, the power, and the privilege of using the first person, as narrative voice, as perspective, and as technique.  We will concentrate on essays which involve some element of reporting and research, even when they also encompass elements of memoir; that is, we will look at ways that memoir can take us beyond the strictly personal and help us find ways to draw readers in on examinations of different aspects of experience, history, politics, art, science, health….  We will discuss the pleasures and pitfalls of writing about yourself as a character in serious nonfiction, the complexities of keeping your distance and coming too close, and of course, the interplay of experience and accuracy, privacy and honesty, memory and narrative.  We’ll read a broad range of authors and consider the choices they make in deploying the personal voice, and we’ll talk about the legal and ethical complexities of writing about family members, colleagues, and others who have not necessarily encountered us as “reporters.”  The class will involve writing exercises, workshops and peer editing, and writing both short and long personal essays.