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Kindling the Story: Experiments in Research

October 4 - November 1, 2020
Sundays, 12:00-2:00 p.m. (five weeks, three meetings and two weeks of asynchronous meetings)
Online via Zoom
Instructor: Erica Berry

What surprising roles can research play in helping to generate new ideas or complement the telling of our own personal life stories? In this five-week class we will explore readings and prompts that utilize research in lyrical and innovative ways—sometimes as a seed that launches a surprising investigation, sometimes as the metaphorical connective tissue between memories of something unrelated, sometimes as structural scaffolding. Looking to journalism, ethnography, archives, found material, and our own repositories of memory and observation, we will explore a range of tactics and exercises for employing research in work. Whether writing poems, “braided” essays, or narrative nonfiction, participants will leave with a toolbox of techniques to utilize research for both inspiration and information, as well as a draft of a longer project they have received peer and instructor feedback on.

This is a generative writing class, where much of our time will be spent doing activities and prompts and occasionally giving and receiving feedback, We will meet three times on Zoom during five weeks of study. The weeks we do not meet will have asynchronous components.

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

Use research to jumpstart creativity when faced with hurdles in their own work.
Navigate a variety of digital research platforms; employ information in innovative ways.
Understand how to create resonance and echoes between multiple threads of a story, as when braiding research beside a personal story
Experiment with essayistic forms.

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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