The Essay is the Problem

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Alexander Chee
Week 7: July 21 to July 26
ORIENTATION: July 21, 6:00-7:30 PM
WORKSHOP: July 22-26, 1-4pm
Discipline: Nonfiction/Memoir
Open to All

On-site Housing Not Available
Workshop Description 

You’re trying to write about your abuse, but you fear retaliation from your abuser. You want to write a family history, but your family has no records, and no one tells stories even about the living. You’re writing a biographical profile, and their surviving family seems unwilling to speak to you. You have what feels like half a memory of something, and you want to write about the entire experience, but you feel like a fraud inventing what you think happened. This workshop is about taking the seemingly insoluble problem to a particular essay and turning it into the subject. In this workshop, we will look at the problem in an essay, the thing you feel makes it impossible to finish, and turn it into the structure of the essay, even the subject.


Please bring a draft of your problem essay, or an excerpt of no more than 4000 words.



Alexander Chee is the author of the essay collection How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, and the novels Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night. He is a novelist and essayist, a winner of the Whiting Award and the NEA fellowship in prose. His work has most recently appeared in The Yale Review, The Sewanee Review, Tin House, and Best American Essays 2016. He is an associate professor of creative writing at Dartmouth College.