Writing about our Lives: A Genre Study of Memoir

Brian Kissel, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Reading and Elementary Education, UNC Charlotte

In what ways do writers craft memoirs to tell snippets about their lives?  What life events are compelling to read?  Who are the characters that weave into and out of the lives of memoir writers?  What places hold power for the memoirist?  And, how do writers write about these people, places, and events in ways that keep us engaged as readers?  These essential questions undergird this Seminar focused on memoir writing.

This CTI seminar will engage Fellows in the study of memoir.  Fellows will engage in an inquiry model of memoir that ultimately leads to participants writing their own memoirs to share with others.  Throughout the experience, Fellows will search and gather representational memoirs often found in K-12 classrooms.  These texts will include picture books, YA literature, book chapters, newspaper snippets, magazine articles, and digital forms of memoir including photo-stories, podcasts, and digital storytelling.  Fellows will engage in immersive readings of these texts—first, through individual reading, then through careful close study with fellow Fellows.  Along the way, they will make noticings and develop questions about the memoir that they will continue to try to answer through multiple readings.  Through our dissection of the texts, and the moves authors made to craft them, participants will venture off themselves to craft their own memoirs.  And, to support their writing, Fellows will participate in writing groups to get feedback.

In this seminar, Fellows will learn about a genre of writing in greater depth and detail.  Fellows will engage in their own writing process to learn about what writers do to craft writer.  Finally, Fellows will gain a deeper understanding (through experiential learning) of what it’s like for PreK-12 children to study and write texts within their classrooms.

Fellows will then take their own experiences as readers and writers and consider how it applies in their PreK-12 classrooms.  Fellows may consider how they can engage their students in genre study within their classrooms.  They may also consider developing units to teach certain genres of writing within their classrooms.