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June 15–July 14, 2021. Formed by Family: Writing About Those Who Shape Us with Tim Bascom is a Course

June 15–July 14, 2021. Formed by Family: Writing About Those Who Shape Us with Tim Bascom

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Formed by Family: Writing About Those Who Shape Us with Tim Bascom (Five-Week Workshop)




Tuesdays on Zoom, June 15–July 14, 2021


6:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m. Iowa/Central Time (7:00–10:00 Eastern; 4:00–7:00 Pacific; 5:00–8:00 Mountain)


Fee: $600


Course Description


In this five-week workshop, we will consider excerpts from several family-based memoirs and generate new material for our own. To understand the self, we must understand those who have had the most influence on us—our family members. Look at a shelf of memoirs and you’ll see just how central these relationships are—in Tara Westover’s Educated or Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home or Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family. However, putting the spotlight on family comes with certain risks. There are legendary stories of family members who stopped talking after a memoir was published. We don’t want to get it wrong.


During our five weeks together, we will discuss how other authors have handled writing about parents, spouses, and children, and we will practice ways to write more freely and honestly while still honoring those we care about. Our main aim is to generate new personal stories, getting feedback on how we portray the major relationships. Nonfiction writers at all levels are welcome, along with fiction writers who are mining their family experience.


Our class will meet once each week on Zoom. Each session will include discussion of one or two sample excerpts, a writing prompt meant to spark new autobiographical material, and a sharing period with interactive feedback. Participants will receive direct workshop feedback on at least one in-class exercise and one out-of-class draft, and the instructor will provide written feedback on both workshopped items.


Near the end of the five weeks, each writer will have a 30-minute Zoom conference with the instructor to discuss their work in more detail.




Tim Bascom’s newest book, Climbing Lessons, is a collection of forty brief personal narratives about fathers and sons in his Midwestern American clan. Bascom is also the author of a novel, a collection of essays, and two prize-winning memoirs about his years in East Africa, where his parents worked as medical missionaries. His fiction has appeared in Fiction Southeast, Briar Cliff Review, and Lalitamba. His essays have won prizes at The Missouri Review and Florida Review and have been selected for inclusion in Best Creative Nonfiction and Best American Travel Writing. After twenty years of teaching creative writing in college settings, he now directs the annual Kansas Book Festival, teaching adult writing workshops whenever possible!


Registration & Fees


The fee for this course is $600. Payment in full is required to register.


Registration for this course opens at 1:00 p.m. Central Time, Tuesday, June 1, 2021.


Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.


Class size is limited to 10.


Note: Your credit card payment will be processed by an external provider and will appear on your credit card statement as “UI Writing—Magid Center.”


Refund & Cancellation Policy


If you need to cancel your enrollment in a Festival class, please let us know as soon as possible. We can only offer full refunds if you cancel two weeks prior to the start of class. After that, before the start date of class, we can offer a 50% refund. We cannot refund day-of cancellations, and we cannot refund or partially refund tuition once the class has begun.


Terms & Community Policy


The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a community built on an assumption of shared enterprise, in the spirit of mutual respect. We reserve the right to a) revoke the registration of or b) dismiss from the program any person who disrupts the learning/working environment of others. Participants in the Festival are subject to all University of Iowa policies governing conduct in our community, whether online or in person.



Contact the Iowa Summer Writing Festival: Phone: (319) 335-4160.

Our tiny staff is working remotely. If you phone and we miss you, please leave a message!