The Hermit Crab Essay - Remote!

Friday, October 15th, from 10:30am-1:30pm (EST)
Remote (Live Zoom Meetings)
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Level: Introductory
Adult (18+)
12 seats max

In their book, Tell It Slant: Writing and Shaping Creative Nonfiction, Brenda Miller and Suzanne Paola defined the "hermit crab essay" as one that "appropriates other forms as an outer covering to protect its soft, vulnerable underbelly ... [it] must look elsewhere to find the form that will best contain it." In this workshop, we'll examine and then write this genre of essay that borrows the structures, forms and voices they inhabit --- from how-to instructions, travel guides, recipes, field guides, job application letters, product descriptions, resumes, obituaries, liner notes, abecedarians, want ads and more.

Writers examined include Roxane Gay, Gwendolyn Wallace, Brenda Miller, Sarah Wells, and examples from the pages of McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Expect to get a start in class on two to three hermit crab essays. Come to class with ideas and topics you'd like to write about.

This class will be hosted using live Zoom meetings! You will be able to participate in class via Zoom videoconference from wherever you’re most comfortable. All you’ll need is a laptop or a phone! About 15 minutes before your class is scheduled to begin, you'll receive an email from your instructor with a link to join the class meeting via Zoom–no need to download anything or sign up for Zoom in advance! If you have questions about remote learning, please feel free to reach out to [email protected] for more information.

For a glimpse at how remote learning works, look no further than the deep Zoom discussion of writing and literature below:

Scholarship Information

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

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Ethan Gilsdorf
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Previous Students Say

  • "Generative"
  • "Supportive Environment"
  • "High-Energy Class"
  • "Inspired Me to Write More"


  • Class Discussion
  • In-Class Writing


  • Personal Essay
  • Nonfiction

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