Special Note:

Deadline Extended For Select Advanced Workshops—There is still time to apply for Advanced Workshops in Poetry, Memoir, and Advanced Revision and Submitting Strategies for both Fiction and Nonfiction. Applications close on Monday June 3rd at 11:59 pm EST.

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  • Seminar
  • Online: Zoom
  • Adult (18+)

Writing the Past

No Longer Enrolling

  • $130.00 Non-Member
  • $110.00 Member

Class Description

The past is simultaneously elusive and unavoidable. It is also a powerful tool and the writer’s biggest storehouse of material. It deepens the smallest stories and widens the most personal subjects. Historical insight persuades, enlightens, enlivens, and entertains. Each story (no matter how personal or topical) is a thread in a larger history. Your parents’ immigration narrative becomes more compelling against the backdrop of its geopolitical context. Today’s headlines about Ebola are more captivating when they recall previous scares with SARS, AIDS, and the Spanish Flu. This course will teach you how to use historical research to enrich various creative nonfiction genres, including memoir and family history, long-form journalism, and historical narrative. We will tackle specific challenges writers face when writing about the past: estimating (and narrating) the truth from fragments, balancing narration and exposition, moving across time periods, and drawing stories out of archives—whether that archive is in a library or is a collection of old letters and emails, photo albums, home videos, diaries, family anecdotes, objects, or souvenirs. We will complete in-class writing assignments and discuss exemplary nonfiction work from Joan Didion, John Jeremiah Sullivan, and Susan Faludi.

Part of GrubStreet's Special Topics in the Nonfiction, a group of classes dedicated to exploring different craft elements of creative nonfiction. For more class offerings, click here.

Scholarships Format/Location

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

This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. Please visit the Resources tab to access the video-conference link.

Zoom Participation:

Students are not required to turn their camera on, but are encouraged to participate any way they feel comfortable through functions such as the live chat, emoji reactions, and unmuting the microphone. Learn more about using Zoom here.

Zoom Accessibility:

We ask that instructors enable closed captioning and send a transcript of the session after class. You can also enable closed captioning at any time during the meeting. If your instructor forgets to send the transcript, just send ’em an email!