Autobiographical writing: an introduction

Course Dates: 21/02/23 - 28/03/23
Time: 14:45 - 16:45
Location: Keeley Street
This short course explores the basic elements of writing autobiography drawing on memories, diaries, photos, dreams and fantasies with a focus on the forms of autobiography, memoir and the personal essay.
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Full fee £129.00 Senior fee £129.00 Concession £65.00

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Course Code: HW559

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Started Tue, day, 21 Feb - 28 Mar '23

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This introductory course guides students in the basic principles of autobiographical writing, including how to focus and craft your work. Whether you are writing for self discovery, testimony or to tell your story, you’ll learn how to make your writing evocative and powerful.

What will we cover?

Depending on the participants’ interests the course will include some or all of the following:

- How to start writing autobiography.
- Exploring different sources of autobiographical writing. E.g., dreams, fantasies and lateral approaches to self- kowledge as well as conscious experience, thought and memory.
- How to find themes and other ways of unifying your work.
- Use of memorabilia (eg photos, diaries, family, and official records) where appropriate.
- Issues such as self-exposure, betrayal, and confidence.
- Selection of material.
- The concept of truth or fact in relation to autobiography.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Write autobiographically-based work more effectively and confidently.
- Identify and appreciate some of the sources and issues around writing autobiographically.
- Evaluate your own work and offer some constructive feedback to others.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

Suitable for people with some experience of creative writing, whether or not autobiographical. Some writing exercises will be set outside class and students are encouraged read their work out in class and feedback on the work of others.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Presentations by the tutor on particular topics.
Writing exercises in class and suggestions for writing at home where appropriate.
General discussion of approaches, issues and skills.
Tutor and group discussion of your written work.
Most sessions will consist of a balance of teaching and students sharing and discussing their work.

All writing courses at City Lit will involve an element of workshop. This means that students will produce work which will be discussed in an open and constructive environment with the tutor and other students. The college operates a policy of constructive criticism, and all feedback on another student’s work by the tutor and other students should be delivered in that spirit.

For classes longer than one day regular reading and writing exercises will be set for completion at home to set deadlines.

City Lit Writing endeavours to create a safe and welcoming space for all and we strongly support the use of content notes in our classes. This means that learners are encouraged to make their tutor and classmates aware in advance if any writing they wish to share contains material that may be deemed sensitive. If you are unsure about what might constitute sensitive content, please ask your tutor for further clarification and read our expectations for participating in writing courses at City Lit.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You should bring paper, and pens or pencils.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

All students are invited to join us at Late Lines, our regular performance night for City Lit writers. Students are also encouraged to submit their work to Between the Lines, our annual anthology of creative writing. For the latest news, courses and events, stay in touch with the Department on Facebook and Twitter.

Julie Garton

Julie studied at the University of Essex, the Central School of Speech and Drama and Dartington College. She has written several plays for young audiences for, amongst others, the Unicorn Theatre for Children. She currently writes articles about landscape, heritage and nature. Julie won the 2014 British Czech and Slovak creative writing prize for her personal essay about the Czech Poet and dissident Ivan Blatny.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.