Instructor: Sharon Carmack
Maximum Enrollment: 10
Class Term: 09/20/2021 - 10/18/2021
SCN Member: $120.00
Class synopsisIn this two-part class, each 4 weeks long (fall and winter terms), students will lean in Part I the techniques of life story writing by writing their own story, and in Part II, the techniques of writing a nonfiction story of a relative/ancestor by putting that person into historical perspective.
This interactive course is designed to enable students to develop competence in writing life stories about themselves and relatives by analyzing, organizing, and developing ideas; locating and using online resources for supporting ideas; and adapting one’s writing to various audiences. Instruction and practice in nonfiction writing styles and mechanics, documentation, and critical reading are the focus in this course.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to, * analyze and evaluate life story writing to better define the elements of this genre., * apply the steps of the nonfiction writing process to written assignments., * integrate social history research with genealogical information and properly document sources.=≠
Class communication methodThere will be one live lecture for each part on Zoom, as well as weekly discussions and readings from my textbook, Tell It Short: A Guide to Writing Your Family History in Brief, purchased from Scattered Leaves Press, http://warrencarmack.com/?page_id=341. Students will share for peer review and instructor feedback one essay in Part I and one essay in Part II. These will be shared on a group page and where the weekly discussions will take place.
Unit 1 Introductions and Zoom Meeting. Students will participate in an initial Zoom meeting to introduce themselves and their family history writing goals. The instructor, along with introducing herself, will also offer a lecture on writing life stories and family histories and explain further how the course will take place.
Unit 2 Discussion (Finding Meaning in a Life Story) and Write Your Life Story Essay. How to find the meaning in a life story. This interactive discussion will be based on the following readings:
- “Carmack, Tell it Short, Introduction and Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7
- “Thumb-Sucking Girl” by Sonja Livingston in Carmack, Tell it Short.
The essay will be based on guidelines in Sherry Simpson, “Tiny Masters: An Artful Trick to Writing the Personal Essay” https://brevitymag.com/craft-essays/tiny-masters/, and guidelines presented on the group page.
Unit 3 Discussion (Preparing for Peer Reviews) and Complete Peer Review. Students will be assigned two student essays to peer review and post the review on the group page. The instructor will also provide feedback. The interactive discussion will be based on the following readings:
- Suggestions on writing a peer review, “Why Peer Review?”
- Peer Reviews
- Blog post by Karen Hertzberg, “How to Give Writing Feedback that’s Constructive, Not Crushing”
Unit 4 Discussion (Essay Evaluation) and Revision. Students will choose from the following essays to assess and evaluate based on the criteria on the group page:
- “Mick on the Make,” by Dinty Moore in Carmack, Tell it Short.
- “Switched at Midlife,” by Sharon Carmack in Carmack, Tell it Short.
- “Changing Names,” by Klancy de Nevers in Carmack, Tell it Short.
Students will then share a revision of their life story essay.
Part II, A Continuation of Part I
Unit 5 Zoom Meeting and Discussion (Library and Online Research for Family History Essay). The Zoom lecture will explain how to put relatives/ancestors into historical perspective and give an overview of how to do genealogical research online. We will also discuss the relative each student wishes to write about for the next assignment. The reading for this week is Carmack, Tell It Short, Chapters 5, 6, 9.
Unit 6 Discussion (Essay Evaluation) and Draft the Family History Essay
Students will choose one of the three essays to evaluate and discuss on the group page:
- “A Thousand Mary Doyles,” by Sonja Livingston, in Carmack, Tell It Short
- “Grandfather,” by Elise Phillips in Carmack, Tell It Short
- “Aunt,” by Rebecca McClanahan in Carmack, Tell It Short
Students will begin drafting their Family History Essay based on the guidelines provided on the group page and then submit it for peer review next week.
Unit 7 Submit Draft of Family History Essay for Peer Review. Students will be assigned two student essays to peer review and post the review on the group page. The instructor will also provide feedback. No further reading or discussion this week.
Unit 8: Revision and Course Wrap Up Discussion. Students will submit a revision of their Family History Essay on the group page. In the discussion, students will reflect on what they learned and where they will take their family history writing from here.
Class time commitment2-5 hours a week depending on writing and research skills and ability.
Sharon DeBartolo Carmack is a Certified Genealogist® with a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction Writing, a Diploma in Irish Studies from the National University of Ireland–Galway, and a Diploma from the Spiritualists’ National Union in the UK.
Sharon has been a Certified Genealogist® for more than thirty years. She is a partner in the Salt Lake City-based research, writing, editing, and publishing firm of Warren, Carmack & Associates, the owner of Nonfiction Help, and the executive editor of Scattered Leaves Press.
She is also the author of twenty-four books and hundreds of articles, essays, columns, and reviews that have appeared in nearly every major genealogical journal and publication. Some of Sharon’s books include Tell It Short: A Guide to Writing Your Family History in Brief, You Can Write Your Family History, and most recently, the definitive biography, In Search of Maria B. Hayden: The American Medium Who Brought Spiritualism to the U.K., available on Amazon.com.
Additionally, her work has appeared in many writing and literary publications: Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Literary Hub, Hippocampus Magazine (where her essay, “Switched at Midlife” won “Most Memorable” and was one of ten essays selected for the Best of Hippocampus), Portland Review, Steinbeck Review, Writer’s Digest, Personal Journaling, and Phoebe: A Journal of Literature and Art (where her essay received Honorable Mention in the annual Creative Nonfiction Contest), and Wilderness House Literary Review (forthcoming). Sharon’s essays have been finalists in contests for the Bellingham Review’s Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction and in Creative Nonfiction’s True Crime contest. She was also the recipient of the John McIndoe Prize from the Spiritualists’ National Union for her thesis on Maria B. Hayden.