Phillip Lopate once wrote: “At the core of the personal essay is the supposition that there is a certain unity to human experience.”
In this workshop, we will explore issues of identity and belonging through the personal essay. Though we write from our own lives, there is always a way to open our work so that readers can locate themselves within a shared human experience.
Identity, belonging, home, displacement, and marginalization are increasingly necessary topics for public discussion. As Christians, our primal identity is that of belonging to Christ but that does not negate the significance of our other identities. As writers and thinkers who adhere to the Christian narrative, we have to find ways to join these conversations and speak to a wider audience than the Church. How can creative nonfiction and the personal essay become a powerful means of listening to and telling necessary stories of identity? How can narrative help us better understand and engage these issues?
This workshop will explore these questions by introducing participants to traditional and modern personal essays. Students will read selections from writers spanning historical times periods, nations and cultures (ie, James Baldwin, George Orwell, Ta-nehisi Coates, Dina Nayeri). Students will practice the art of nonfiction and the personal essay, writing from experience in ways that invite understanding with their readers.
Workshop leader Enuma Okoro is a writer, speaker and strategic communications consultant. She is an award-winning author of four non-fiction books. She writes, speaks and teaches about issues of culture, identity and the power of narratives. Born in New York City, Enuma is a Nigerian-American raised in four countries on three continents. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Duke University Divinity School of which she is the former Director for the Center for Theological Writing.
The Collegeville Institute will cover travel expenses to and from the workshop within the continental United States, all workshop fees, and room and board. International travel costs, and travel from Hawaii and Alaska may be shared between the Collegeville Institute and the workshop participant. Those who join the workshop will be expected to reside at the Collegeville Institute throughout the entire week. Participants may share apartment space, though each person will be assigned a private bedroom. The program is limited to 12 participants.
Some advance reading and/or writing may be required in preparation for the workshop.
The application deadline for this workshop has now passed.