This Course is Expired

Writing Lives

This course will provide you with all you need to shape your materials into an enjoyable and accessible literary work.
University of Oxford University Offices Wellington Square Oxford ,OX1 2JD United Kingdom
(4418) 65270000

Course at a Glance

Mode of learning : Online - Instructor Lead(LVC)

Domain / Subject : General/Others

Function : General

Trainer name : Ms Lisa Selvidge

Starts on : 10th Sep 2014

Duration : 10 Weeks

Difficulty : Advanced

About the course

Are there stories, events or circumstances in your own experience, your family's, or those of people known to you, that you've always wanted to investigate, and that you think would make good reading? This course will provide you with all you need to shape your materials into an enjoyable and accessible literary work. 'Life Writing' is prose non-fiction devoted to exploring the events and emotions of real lives. The Life Writing course will enable you to recognise which things are significant, how to characterize them in way that really brings them to life, and how to structure them into a narrative that will keep a reader's interest.

Course Aims

This course aims to provide students with insight into the major aspects affecting life-writing and to enable them to use these features confidently in writing their own creative non-fiction.

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Teaching methods

  • Introductory section, outlining key areas of work within each unit.
  • Description of required reading and recommended reading.
  • Presentation of materials taken from additional (eg. online) sources, relevant to each unit.
  • Online discussion forum.
  • Online personal study diary.
  • Area for short responses to literary extracts from key texts.
  • Tutor responses to forum and exercises.
  • Assessment and feedback.

Teaching outcomes

By the end of this course students will be expected to understand:

  • Key features (such as perspective, dialogue, etc) in a work of life-writing 
  • The applicability of such characteristics in their own work. 
  • How to use at least some of these aspects of technical expertise with increased skill and confidence. 

By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills:

  • The ability to recognize and name key features in contemporary life-writing
  • Knowledge of why authors employ these features and what their different effects are.
  • Increased confidence in their own use of such features as enhancements to the development of an individual ‘voice’ in life-writing.

Course eligibility

Course Requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.

Recommended reading

To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following book:

  • • Roorbach, B., Writing Life Stories: How to Make Memories into Memoirs, Ideas into Essays and Life into Literature
  • Lodge, D., The Art of Fiction [London: Penguin, 1992.]
  • Mullan, J., How Novels Work [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006]
  • Wood, J., How Fiction Works [London: Vintage, 2009]
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Course Content

  • Getting Started
  • Point-of-view 
  • Descriptive Writing
  • Characterizing Others
  • Characterizing Yourself
  • Dialogue
  • Structure
  • Sequence and Situation
  • Beginnings and Endings
  • Re-writing and Editin


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