In this class, we will explore how to incorporate research into personal narrative. This might mean anything—from family history to falconry, true crime to anthropology, botany, or musicology. The possibilities are endless. Is there a story behind or beside the story you are telling that will help you tell it better? What are some ways to structure hybrid work? How do we navigate changes in tone? Or tense? We will study some of the best contemporary essayists and writers for inspiration, and attempt our own fusion of fact and feeling.
Students will read excerpts of hybrid works to discuss in class, and will be asked to write and workshop two short (around 5 double-spaced pages) attempts at fusing their own research and writing. This workshop is open to anyone who might want to try their hand at a hybrid project or learn more about incorporating research into their nonfiction, but is best-suited for those who have previous workshop experience.
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 desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- To get a better sense of hybrid/researched memoir (and what it can be made to do).
- To gain confidence including researched/outside material in personal narrative.
- To rethink the ways in which memoir can be imagined/structured and the genre itself broadened to include this kind of material.
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students should be prepared to complete weekly reading assignments (10-20 pages per week) on top of reading and commenting on their peer’s workshop submissions. Students will submit their own work for workshop at least twice.
Week 1: What are we doing? (Hybrid Memoir in the context of genre)
Week 2: How do we do it? (Braiding and the Perfume Bottle) — Workshop 1
Week 3: Narrative lenses (on history, family, and things) — Workshop 2
Week 4: Events and the Sensational — Workshop 3
Week 5: Reviews (Getting the balance right — and wrong) — Workshop 4
Week 6: On Not Hiding in the Research (Putting the “memoir” back in Hybrid Memoir) — Workshop 5
Meghan Flaherty is the author of TANGO LESSONS. She has an M.F.A. from Columbia University in literary nonfiction. Her essays and translations have appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, The Iowa Review, Psychology Today, Parents, and online at the New York Times, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. Her essay “Ode to Gray” was included among the honorable mentions in 2019’s Best American Essays. She is the mother of two small boys.
“Well-researched, eloquent, and entertaining, Flaherty's book is not only a witty, incisive reflection on a beloved dance and its history. It is also an intimate celebration of dance, life, and the art of taking chances. A vibrantly intelligent reading pleasure.”
"A dazzlingly honest, unblinking memoir, it is also deliciously written, authentically romantic and enormous fun to read."
"From the first page, TANGO LESSONS engages, charms and inspires. Like the best memoirs, it tells a story of self-discovery that transcends the personal. In sensuous prose, Meghan Flaherty brings to captivating life her journey to recovery from trauma and heartbreak through the tango scene in New York City."
"I can attest to how invaluable it is to work with Meghan: she is rigorous and perceptive, superbly encouraging and supportive. I've experienced firsthand the sharpness, grace, and clarity of her feedback. Our students often spoke of Meghan's wit, warmth, and how much they learned from her."
"I can only imagine the work and attention that must have gone into making [your class] as rich as it was. It was such a gift. Your generosity and brilliance will stay with me."