The Telling Itself: Illness Narratives as Healing and Craft


  • Southern Arizona Work Space 403 North 6th Avenue Tucson, AZ, 85705 United States

Six Wednesdays, 6:00pm-8:00pm: March 22 & 29, April 5, 12, 19, & 26.

“Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and the kingdom of the sick,” writes Susan Sontag. In this six-week class, writers will craft personal nonfiction narratives that explore the experience of illness.

Together, we’ll consider how craft choices such as chronology, scope, perspective, structure, and a widening of the narrative lens can elevate the personal to the universal, as well as how to avoid common illness narrative pitfalls, including overly technical language and the onerous play-by-plays of treatment. We’ll also discuss the established therapeutic value of writing about such experiences, exploring the difference between writing that primarily seeks to heal and writing that seeks to reach literary audiences.

In addition to in-class writing prompts and weekly writing exercises, writers will turn in one essay for workshop, receiving targeted feedback from their instructor and classmates. Writers should also plan to read several essays outside class each week, including work by Lauren Slater, Leslie Jamison, Laura Hillenbrand, Eve Ensler, and Aleksandar Hemon.

Participants must register in advance. A deposit of at least half the cost ($120) is required to hold your slot.

Cost: $240    Host: Southern Arizona Work Space  

Want more information on illness narratives? Check out the University of Arizona Poetry Center's interview with Kati about this course in Fall 2015 and Kati's interview with physician-writer Danielle Ofri, the editor-in-chief of the Bellevue Literary Review.  

How did past participants feel about the course? Find out here.

As of 3/21, THIS CLASS IS CANCELLED DUE TO LOW ENROLLMENT. Sign up for the mailing list to hear next time it's offered.

Photo credit: Luke Parsons Photography