R274. The Use and Abuse of Memoir

Room 402 AB, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
Thursday, March 31, 2016
4:30 pm to 5:45 pm


Any writer of creative nonfiction faces a primary question: Do I write from inside or outside the self? Does all nonfiction literature ultimately come back to a personal perspective, even if the entire work is third-person reportage? Instructors of the genre discuss the extent to which they encourage or discourage memoir from their students, and question whether the syllabus should include some instruction on the art of interview and research in addition to the exploration of a personal past.



Tom Zoellner is an associate professor of English at Chapman University and the author of four nonfiction books: Train, A Safeway in Arizona, Uranium, and The Heartless Stone. His work has appeared in the Atlantic, the Oxford American, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and many other places.

Christa Parravani's Her: A Memoir was a Wall Street Journal, Salon, and Library Journal best book of 2013. Parravani's work has appeared in the Washington Post, Salon, Marie Claire, Daily Beast, The Guardian, and Catapult, among other places. She is assistant professor of creative writing at West Virginia University.

Maggie Behringer is currently completing her MFA in fiction writing at West Virginia University. Her fiction draws heavily from her childhood growing up next to Bryon De La Beckwith, Medgar Evers's assassin. She has also worked as a journalist in Boston, Connecticut, Hoboken, Georgia, and Tennessee.

David McGlynn is the author of the story collection, The End of the Straight and Narrow and the memoir, A Door in the Ocean. His stories and essays have appeared in Men’s Health, the Huffington Post, Best American Sports Writing, and in numerous literary journals.

Kristiana Kahakauwila is a 2015–16 Fellow at Harvard's Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study and an assistant professor at Western Washington University. The author of This is Paradise: Stories, she has most recently published in Off the Path: An Anthology of 21st Century Indigenous Writing.


March 4–7, 2020
San Antonio, TX

Henry B. González Convention Center