Reading Like a Memoirist: Learning from James Baldwin's Notes on a Native Son (with Celia Jeffries) - ONLINE
What distinguishes a good memoir? What makes one person’s story read like mere navel-gazing when another’s can take us into a deep experience of the world? Although he was writing before memoir became a dominant genre, James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son is a brilliant example of a personal narrative that takes the reader into what Vivian Gornick calls “the intersection between the self and the world.” If a memoir is an inquiry, an attempt by the writer to make sense of one’s place in the world, it’s the depth of that inquiry that makes Baldwin’s book a classic and one that can teach us much about the craft of memoir. As a group, participants will read Notes of a Native Son over the course of four weeks. We will discuss how Baldwin uses the fundamentals of storytelling, how he explores both his inner and outer worlds, and how we can learn from his work. Generative writing exercises related to the reading will be offered, as well as the opportunity for in-class positive feedback. There will be no formal or written feedback; instead we will focus deeply on craft analysis, discussion, and writing our own stories. Required: All participants must have a copy of the book and are expected to begin reading before the first class. Limited to 10 writers.
WHEN: 4 Weeks: Thursdays, March 31 - April 21 (10am - 12pm EST)
WHERE: Online, via Zoom video conference (live)
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
CELIA JEFFRIES is the author of the novel Blue Desert (2021). She holds an MA from Brandeis and an MFA from Lesley University. Her work has appeared in numerous newspapers and literary magazines including Westview, Solstice, and Puerto del Sol, as well as the anthology Beyond the Yellow Wallpaper. She has received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Turkey Land Cove Foundation, and La Muse. She is currently at work on a memoir.
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