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UMFK to offer "The Memoir" course

April 16, 2004


The University of Maine at Fort Kent will once again offer a unique writing class during its Summer 2004 session. "The Memoir" is a three-week course that begins on May 10, and meets on Monday through Friday evenings, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Carol A. Hawkins, assistant professor of English, and director of the writing program at UMFK, will teach the course.

Writers of all levels are encouraged to attend, particularly community members who are interested in composing a written legacy of their lives for future generations.

Hawkins will serve as a guide as writers sort their memories and emotions to compose their own version of the truth.

"Of course, I won't do this alone," said Hawkins. "The beauty of memoir writing within a workshop format is that it allows participants to form a supportive writing community where they all become guides who offer encouragement and constructive feedback."

Workshop participants write memoirs as works of history that capture a distinctive moment in the life of both a person and a society. This course raises questions about how memoir writing situates our lives within a larger social framework, such as contemporary American and World History.

Hawkins adds, "I've received many calls, in the past, from community members who wished to participate in the workshop but couldn't because the course was offered during the winter months. I wanted to respond to their needs by offering the course again this summer when travel to and from campus is less restrictive."

Hawkins quotes the words of Adrienne Rich, a well-known poet, when she speaks of the importance of memoir writing. "Nobody ever told us we had to study our own lives." However, memoir writing reveals the richness of our lives, and helps students learn how to compose concrete details of day-to-day activities that transform the ordinary into extraordinary."

"When we write memories down, we are constructing our lives, not just recording them," said Hawkins. "Everyone has a story, but how many ever write them down? This course provides an opportunity to do just that by accessing our pasts for personal growth, and reaffirming our family and individual identities while learning the skills to write stories."

UMFK student Darcelle Morin has had experience in Hawkins' Memoir class.

"This class gave me an opportunity to organize my thoughts," said Morin. "I'd always enjoyed writing, but by having the support of my teacher and fellow students, my writing became more clear. I was able to write my story down, and there were people there to listen to it. Dr. Hawkins opened a world where I could be more honest and made it possible to share my life experiences with others without scrutiny. I highly recommend this class to anyone who wants guidance and instruction on writing about life experiences."

All of Hawkins' reading and writing courses offered through UMFK closely examine the cultural practices that influence how we think, read, and write.

She has taught writing courses since 1989 at six college campuses, both in New England and Colorado, and in high school and adult education programs.

This will be the fourth time her course has been offered at UMFK. Past classes have culminated into a well-attended public reading. A similar public reading is planned as part of this session.

For a preview of what to expect from the course, Hawkins invites everyone to attend a public reading of her current students' work on April 28th, from 6:00-9:00 p.m., in the Nadeau Teleconference Room. Light refreshments will be served. Dr. Hawkins will be available following the memoir reading to answer any questions about the course.

To register for the course, call the registrar's office at 834-7520.

For more information contact Hawkins at 834-7892.