Online | Nonfiction | Workshop

6-Week Online Nonfiction Workshop: Expanding the Personal Narrative

This class will focus on how we can use an investigation and exploration of the wider world as a springboard for writing more nuanced and resonant personal narratives. How can we situate our stories in larger social, political, and cultural spheres? How might we use research, journalism, or lyric association to show the connections held within our own stories? By the end of this course, students will have greater fluency with blending various types of nonfiction and a more thorough understanding of the possibilities for opening up their personal narratives. Students will workshop twice while completing writing assignments that model the various strategies of approaching a narrative. Students will also have weekly readings from authors such as Eula Biss, Elena Passarello, and Lidia Yuknavitch, with a one-on-one meeting with the instructor at the course’s end.

Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the Zoom desktop client so you have access to all platform features.


Week 1: Intros, Scheduling, Discussion of Examples

Week 2: Narratives & Context, Workshop #1

Week 3: Research Methods, Workshop #2

Week 4: Journalism & Memoir, Workshop #3

Week 5: Introducing the Associative Braid, Workshop #4

Week 6: Structure and Flow, Workshop #5


- an understanding of how to illuminate the unexpected in our stories

- strategies for the ways memoir and personal essay can make use of research and journalism

- an understanding on how to place personal narrative in larger contexts

- experience in the various methods of approaching a personal narrative

- careful, detailed peer and instructor feedback on two workshop submissions

- a one-on-one, private conference with the instructor

- newfound confidence in your writing

Thomas Mira y Lopez

Thomas Mira y Lopez is the author of The Book of Resting Places (Counterpoint, 2017). His work has been published in The American Scholar, The Georgia Review, and Kenyon Review Online among others. He’s been the Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill and an Olive B. O’Connor Fellow at Colgate University. 


"THE BOOK OF RESTING PLACES is admirable for the restlessness and fierceness of its need to work through both its own elegy and the nature of elegies in general...Wryly deft in its associative deployment of useful metaphors in its attempt to come to terms with loss, and shame.”

Jim Shepherd

“Mira y Lopez is a stunning writer and his debut book, a tender and adventurous exploration of the intimate distances we share with the dead, deserves to be widely read. Artful sentences mirror, page after page, his artful mind.”

Alison Hawthorne Deming

“Thomas Mira y Lopez’s debut essay collection is a finely wrought exploration of grief, mythology, history, and global death practices . . . Mira y Lopez travels far and wide . . . in search of answers."


"A heartfelt and personal exploration of hallowed grounds―and the history and mythology surrounding them―inspired by the sudden death of Mira y Lopez's father."


“An excellent professor. He cares a lot about his students and is clearly very passionate about not only the assigned readings, but the students writing assignments as well. He puts a lot of thought into the critiques he gives back and I highly value what he has to say about my writing.”

former student

“Clearly passionate about creative nonfiction, and I feel very lucky to have taken a course taught by him.”

former student

“Tommy was a fantastic professor. He was able to connect with the class so naturally and create a classroom environment that was conducive to learning from our peers...He always made himself available to help students outside of class, and his passion for writing and teaching was evident every day in the classroom.”

former student