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Fall 2020 online: Dear Liary: At the Outskirts of Genre

September 15 - October 6, 2020
Tuesdays, 6:00-8:00 p.m. (four meetings)
Online via Zoom
Instructor: Erica Berry

This four-week workshop will consider the concept of “a liary” to explore the messy boundaries between fact and fiction, which takes its name from the idea that we might experiment with writing about our own life (as in a “diary”) using the tools of fiction (thus making it a “lie.”) What are the possibilities of using this as a starting technique, for both nonfiction and fiction writers? What other “truths” can be liberated when facts are off the hook? How do the ethics of lying change when you announce it as such?

Looking to excerpts of “autofiction” texts (where, for example, a writer might create a fictional character with their real-life name) as well as essays that mine the very nature of memory and truth more broadly, this course will cultivate curiosity and experimentation to explore this oft-contentious, genre-blurred field of literature. Students will leave the course with strategies and writing exercises as well as an in-progress draft of something longer.This is a generative writing course focused on experimentation and not on a formal workshop. At the end of our time together, we will offer feedback to each other on our work.

By the end of this four-part course, students will be able to:

Write about their experiences through the prism of both fact and fiction.
Experiment with form, voice, and perspective.
Identify the writing hurdles that challenge them in both fiction and nonfiction, and wield techniques for overcoming them.

Access Program
We want our writing classes to be accessible to everyone, regardless of income and background. We understand that our tuition structure can present obstacles for some people. Our Access Program offers writing class registrations at a reduced rate. The access program for writing classes covers 60% of the class tuition. Most writing classses have at least one access spot available. Contact Susan Moore at susan@literary-arts.org if you would like to take a writing class at the Access Rate

Erica Berry

A Portland native, Erica Berry was most recently the 2019-2020 Writer-in-Residence and Teaching Fellow with the National Writers Series in Traverse City, MI. She has also taught writing workshops with the New York Times Student Journeys, the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, the Craigardan Residency and Education Center in New York, and the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School in Sicily. Her writing has been supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Tin House, and the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources, and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and named notable in 2019 Best American Essays. Her essays are published or forthcoming with The Yale Review, The New York Times Magazine, Literary Hub, Gulf Coast, Gastronomica, Colorado Review, Guernica, The Atlantic, and others.
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