Updated February 2022:

For Spring Quarter 2022, I will be teaching Writing About Spirituality for Stanford Continuing Studies. The course runs 10 weeks, March 28-June 3. Registration opens February 22. Full course information, including the syllabus, can be found here.

For Summer Quarter 2022, I will be teaching a creative nonfiction class, Finding the Universal in the Particular, for Stanford Continuing Studies. The course runs 10 weeks, June 20-August 26. Registration will open in April; I will post a registration link here when available. Course description:

Memoir, essay, or first-person reportage—all creative nonfiction is rooted in a daily habit of noticing the “beloved particulars,” then digging inward to discover how those particulars can evoke what we might risk calling “the universal”—an archetypal experience that almost any reader can relate to. In this welcoming, highly exploratory course, we will play with nonfiction forms ranging from the lyric to the narrative. Voice, point of view, structure, form—all of the essential, recurring terms of the writing life will be introduced as we discuss works by such writers as Stuart Dybek, Grace Paley, Joan Didion, and Amy Tan, and post short weekly assignments for feedback. Each student will also draft and workshop a longer piece of writing. We will practice really seeing, being open and receptive (“sneaking under the fence of interpretation,” as Deborah Eisenberg called it) and dropping defenses, especially those we hide from ourselves, to find truths that can show us the transcendent in the particular. After all, as Flannery O’Connor wrote, “Wouldn’t it be better for you to discover a meaning in what you write than to impose one? Nothing you write will lack meaning because the meaning is in you.”

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Past Classes

For Fall 2020 and 2021 I taught Form and Theory of the novel for Stanford Continuing Studies’ Online Certificate Program in Novel Writing. You can read more about the program here.

For Winter 2019, I taught Writing About Spirituality for Stanford Continuing Studies. Course description:

Our spiritual experiences stir our most urgent desire to communicate. We burn to share the questions and convictions that draw us to a reality beyond our limited selves. But how do we work with language to contain the ineffable? How do we write about spirituality without oversimplifying infinite complexities? How can our writing reach those who already share our beliefs and those who don’t? In this course, we will read the work of inspiring spiritual writers who represent a wide range of faith traditions, from the reflections of Protestant memoirist Christian Wiman to the Dharma talks of Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön to the contemplative journals of Muslim poet Kazim Ali and the instructive essays of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. During our first six weeks, we will alternate between “reading weeks,” in which we deeply examine and contemplate our model texts, and “writing weeks,” in which we draft new work. During our final month, each student will workshop a longer essay or spiritual memoir. By reading published spiritual writers closely, we will find new ways to point to a greater truth in our own work.