S172. Beyond the I: How Research Enlarges Personal Narrative

Florida Salon 1, 2, & 3, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor
Saturday, March 10, 2018
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm


True memoir, writes Patricia Hampl, is “an attempt to find not only a self but a world.” Research, whatever form it takes (interview, site visit, archival or online searches), can deepen and complicate memoir by providing historical, cultural, and political context for personal narratives. Five memoirists and teachers of the genre discuss the ways that research, well-used, can enable writers to move beyond the “I,” crafting work that connects individual stories to larger issues and concerns.



Mimi Schwartz's new collection of personal essays, When History Is Personal, explores the intersection of memoir and history. Her other books include Good Neighbors, Bad Times; Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed; and Writing True. She is Professor Emerita at Richard Stockton University in New Jersey.

Michael Steinberg is founding editor of Fourth Genre. Still Pitching won the ForeWord Magazine/Independent Press Memoir of the Year. The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers of/on Creative Nonfiction (with Bob Root) is in a 6th edition. He's nonfiction writer in residence in the Solstice MFA program.

Joe Mackall is the author of Plain Secrets: An Outsider Among the Amish and the memoir The Last Street Before Cleveland. He is cofounder and coeditor of River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and on NPR's "Morning Edition."

Rebecca McClanahan’s ten books include The Tribal Knot, a multigenerational memoir, and Word Painting: The Fine Art of Writing Descriptively. Recipient of a Pushcart prize and the Glasgow Award in nonfiction, she teaches in the MFA programs of Rainier Writing Workshop and Queens University.

Thomas Larson is the author of The Saddest Music Ever Written and The Memoir and the Memoirist and a staff writer for the San Diego Reader. He teaches creative nonfiction in the MFA program at Ashland University, Ashland, Ohio. His latest book is The Sanctuary of Illness: A Memoir of Heart Disease.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center