The Telling Itself: Illness Narratives As Healing and Craft


  • The University of Arizona Poetry Center 1508 E. Helen St. Tucson United States

Six Wednesdays from 6:00pm-8:00pm:  9/9, 9/16, 9/23, 10/7, 10/14, 10/21 (off 9/30)

Cost: $170 + $30 course material fee

“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. Read a Q&A with Standefer about the course here.

Hosted by The University of Arizona Poetry Center.  Register here.