Exploring Autofiction, with Sarah Earle

Autofiction, most broadly defined as the autobiographical novel, continuously divides critics, publishers, and writers alike. Some fear that autofiction is “growing like a tumor in the body of prose writing,” while still others claim that at its core, it “bears witness to something real and deeply felt.” Despite the debate, the number of novels associated with autofiction is on the rise. But why do writers choose to eschew memoir and nonfiction and use their true material under the thin, sometimes transparent, guise of fiction? Rachel Cusk, author of the Outline trilogy, has claimed that ultimately she found fiction “fake and embarrassing.” And where is the line between fiction, nonfiction, and autofiction, really? Elizabeth McCracken of her novel, The Hero of This Book, writes, ““I wouldn’t argue that objectivity is essential for a memoir, but it’s really not essential for a novel… I wanted to be able to leave out the stuff that probably would have to go into [a memoir].” In this half-day class, we’ll dig into the rich and varied examples of autofiction out there and talk about its authors’ motivations. We’ll also have plenty of time for generative prompt writing, with sharing of that writing and comments from the class. If you’d like to experiment with placing your memoir or fiction material into the autofiction realm, this class is for you!

Saturday, June 10th, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ($75)

Sarah Earle was a lecturer in first-year composition and English as a second language at the University of New Hampshire.  She has also taught creative nonfiction at St. Paul’s Academic Summer Program in Concord, NH, and worked as an editor of Outlook Springs Literary Magazine. She holds her MFA in nonfiction writing from UNH; you can read her essays in Bayou Magazine and The Cobalt Review, and her fiction in The Rumpus and The Carolina Quarterly.

Sarah Earle