Memoir can be a powerful form—but one that also has the power to cause harm to others, and even to the author themselves. This masterclass with Dr Yves Rees will explore the complexities involved, helping you develop a personal ethics of memoir writing.
We are living through a golden age of life writing. Memoir is a booming publishing genre, while the internet has spawned the first-person industrial complex. There is much to celebrate about this trend. The explosion of life writing has allowed marginalised individuals to tell their stories and speak truth to power. It has diversified the literary world, built empathy and understanding, forged new communities, brought taboo topics into the spotlight, and reshaped the public conversation.
But memoir is not an unalloyed good. It can damage relationships, defame individuals, exploit writers and more. How can we avoid this harm to ourselves and others? And should we even be seeking to do so—is causing harm, in fact, sometimes justified? In short, what does it mean to write memoir ethically in the 2020s?
This masterclass will explore these questions through discussion, case studies and personal reflection. We won’t come up with any definitive answers, but we will gain a deeper understanding of the issues at stake and develop tools to apply to our own writing practice.
- Consider the status and power of memoir as a literary genre in the 2020s
- Learn how memoir has the potential to cause harm to the author and others
- Reflect whether such harm should always be avoided or can be justified
- Begin to develop a personal ethics of memoir writing
- Acquire tools and strategies to apply this ethics to their own writing practice
The Writers' Studio is presented in association with Adelaide Writers Week.
About Dr Yves Rees
Dr Yves Rees (they/them) is a writer and historian based on unceded Wurundjeri land. They are a Lecturer in History at La Trobe University, the co-host of Archive Fever history podcast, and the author of All About Yves: Notes from a Transition (Allen & Unwin, 2021). Rees was awarded the 2020 ABR Calibre Essay Prize and a 2021 Varuna Residential Fellowship. Their writing has featured in the Guardian, The Age, Sydney Review of Books, Australian Book Review, Meanjin and Overland, among other publications.
WSA Member $88 / Non-member $140
Venue: State Library of South Australia*
—All staff, speakers, and attendees of in-person events must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or hold a current medical exemption, in order to attend; and must comply with any precautionary measures Writers SA puts in place. We may request proof of your vaccination status or medical exemption upon entry. See our full policy here.
—Writers SA members must be logged in to receive the member discount. The Writers's Studio series is exempt from program credits (first draft and manuscript incubator). If you would like to use a cancellation credit to book in, please contact [email protected] at least five working days before the workshop commencement date. Our staff don’t work full time and we don’t want you to miss out!
*Venue is subject to change. This series may be taken online, participants will be contacted accordingly.
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