Carnal Knowledge

This is a course from a previous year. View the current courses

Desire drives any story worth telling. One of the most difficult forms of desire to represent in writing, in a way that is neither reductive nor stereotypical, is sexual desire. As William Gass said, “Anyone who attempts to render sexual experience directly must face the fact that the writings which comprise it are ludicrous without their subjective content.” That is, writing about sex and sexuality is an exploration of our humanity. To write about sex with clarity and accuracy is to engage topics of identity, the body, gender, family, politics, and, yes, the nature of love and longing. In this workshop, we will focus on reading and writing creative nonfiction that tackles life’s most fundamental and challenging subject in all its complexity, humor, eroticism, violence, pathology, vulnerability, awkwardness, and grace. The reading list will include, among others, James Salter, Mary Gaitskill, Rebecca Walker, Gay Talese, Jeanette Winterson, and Alison Bechdel.