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UMFK to offer "The Memoir" course

November 28, 2003


The University of Maine at Fort Kent will offer a unique writing class during its Spring 2004 session. "The Memoir" is a sixteen week course that begins on January 14, and meets on Wednesday 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, "We will evaluate what William Zinsser calls 'the art and craft of memoir writing' as we focus on the integrity of intentions and careful acts of construction. As we listen, we learn about each other. Together we discover how much memoir writing is a way of reading a life as writing it."

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 allows students to learn to create 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. My story was able to be told, and thee 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 third 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 in the spring.

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

For more information contact Hawkins at 834-7892.