R215. Speaking of the Dead: Craft & Ethics in Nonfiction

Archives, Marriott Marquis, Meeting Level Four
Thursday, February 9, 2017
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm


Writing about the living poses obvious risks: broken trusts, wounded feelings, turn ties, damaged reputations, and possible legal and social repercussions. But what risks confront us in writing about the dead? That the dead can’t defend themselves does not free us, as writers, from our responsibilities toward them and their legacies; if anything it increases them. In speaking of the dead, what are those responsibilities? The panelists share their experiences.



Peter Selgin’s Drowning Lessons won the 2007 Flannery O’Connor Award. He has also written a novel, two books on the writer’s craft, an essay collection, and The Inventors, a memoir. He teaches at Antioch University and is assistant professor of creative writing at Georgia College & State University.

Dustin Beall Smith is the recipient of the 2007 Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize in Nonfiction for his book, Key Grip: A Memoir of Endless Consequences. His essays have received Notable Mentions in Best American Essays, 2008 and 2009. He teaches creative writing at Gettysburg College.

Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of the bestselling novel The Small Backs of Children as well as the forthcoming novel The Book of Joan, the anti-memoir The Chronology of Water, the novel Dora: A Headcase, three books of short stories, and a critical book on war and narrative. She swims.

Gayle Brandeis is the author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write, The Book of Dead Birds (winner of The Bellwether Prize), Self Storage, Delta Girls, and My Life with the Lincolns.The Art of Misdiagnosis (memoir) and The Selfless Bliss of the Body (poetry) are forthcoming.


March 4–7, 2020
San Antonio, TX

Henry B. González Convention Center