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Lidia Yuknavitch sitting on a couch

Memoir Writing: Exploration in Place, Memory, and Culture

Course dates

July 15 to July 28, 2019

Application deadline


This course will provoke vivid explorations of memory and meaning and prompt students to write the stories, poems, and fragments that arise from those provocations. Participants will also explore the various cultures each individual represents and develop a facility moving into one’s own margins and fringe identities and to do the writing and revision that comes f​rom an exploration of self in relationship to place and culture. Writers interested in traditional memoir, short stories, essays, and poetic and experimental forms are welcome in this course.

  • Learn the craft of transforming life experiences into literary narratives.
  • Discover ways to speculate on what we don’t know and don’t remember, and explore these uncertainties through storytelling.
  • Use writing and other media (storytelling, blogging, performance, audio) to evoke and invoke “place” through land, community, and time.
  • Reflect on and explore the various cultures that you represent, and develop your ability to move among marginal and fringe identities.
  • Learn how to approach writing a book proposal for a memoir project. (You do not need a book project in mind to take this course.)
  • This course will culminate in a chapbook and public reading of your work.

students writing in a classroom setting 


Undergraduate: ENGL 424, 3 units
Graduate/post-baccalaureate: ENGL 624, 3 units




All writers (memoirists, fiction writers, poets) interested in writing stories from their own lives and in learning the craft of writing and revising memoir should apply. Students seeking imaginative ways to write their memories by combining other disciplines (such as photography) are especially encouraged to apply.


  1. Submit a letter of interest and two to three pages of recent writing.
  2. Submit/upload the materials listed in step one when you apply online by May 13, 2019.


Professor Kimberly Dark

Guest Artists

Terese Mailhot

Writer Terese Mailhot is from Seabird Island Band and  graduated with an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts. She served as Saturday Editor at The Rumpus and was a columnist at Indian Country Today. Her work appears in GuernicaPacific StandardElleWest Branch, BuzzfeedThe AtlanticThe LA Times, and elsewhere. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling Heart Berries: A Memoir, which is a New York Times Editor’s Choice and a Barnes and Nobel Discover Great New Writers Selection, and has been nominated for the Hilary Weston Writer’s Trust Award for Nonfiction. She serves as faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts and she's a Tecumseh Postdoctoral Fellow at Purdue University.

Lidia Yuknavitch –

National bestselling author Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of novels The Book of JoanThe Small Backs of Children, and Dora: A Headcase, and a critical book on war and narrative, Allegories Of Violence. Her widely acclaimed memoir The Chronology of Water was a finalist for a PEN Center USA award for creative nonfiction and winner of a PNBA Award and the Oregon Book Award Reader's Choice. A book based on her recent TED Talk, “The Misfit's Manifesto,” was released in October 2017. Her writing has appeared in Guernica Magazine, Ms., The Iowa Review, Zyzzyva, and The Sun, and in the anthologies Life As We Show It, Wreckage of Reason, and Feminaissance, among others. She founded the workshop series “Corporeal Writing” in Portland Oregon, where she teaches. She received her doctorate in Literature from the University of Oregon.

Jennifer Chen Tran

Jennifer Chen Tran is an agent at Bradford Literary, representing both fiction and non-fiction. Originally from New York, Jennifer is a lifelong reader and experienced member of the publishing industry. Prior to joining Bradford Literary, she was an Associate Agent at Fuse Literary and served as Counsel at The New Press. Jennifer understands the importance of negotiation in securing rights on behalf of her authors. She counsels her clients on how to expand their platforms and improve on craft, and she works collaboratively with her clients throughout the editorial and publication process. Her ultimate goal is to work in concert with authors to shape books that will have a positive social impact on the world—books that also inform and entertain.

About the course coordinator:

Kimberly Dark is a writer, professor and raconteur, working to reveal the hidden architecture of everyday life one clever essay, poem, and story at a time. She has taught, written award-winning plays, and performed for a wide range of audiences in various countries over the past two decades. She is the author of The Daddies and Love and Errors and Co-Editor of the anthology Ways of Being in Teaching.  Her essays appear in popular online publications such as Everyday Feminism and Ravishly. Her poetry and prose are available in various literary and academic publications.  Kimberly crosses boundaries to show how we must engage all the wisdom and verve we have to create the most compassionate, fair and inclusive world we can.

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