What is your Berlin story? This writing workshop explores the German capital through the genre of ‘creative non-fiction’, or essays based on real experiences. Students study the city, get lost in plot, then refine narratives as a group. Together, we summon the desires and exhilaration of city life on the printed page. This writing workshop is open to everyone, because we all have a story to tell.
Day 1: Monday 26 June (full day)
Morning: Introduction to the course and to one another. Discussions on the elements of prose: voice, point-of-view and perspective; scene and description; argument; style, form and register.
Afternoon: Historical introduction to Berlin City Writing, background for site-specific writing. Readings, and writing plans, are assigned for the next day.
Day 2: Tuesday 27 June (half day)
Morning: Free Writing exercise. Literary introduction to Berlin City Writing: comparative authors and approaches to the City (Hessel, Isherwood, Regener, etc.). Presentation of writing plans.
Afternoon (no class): Is free for Writing. Students write their first draft of their essays on Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday. They submit their essay drafts to the email group by 4pm Wednesday. Students read and comment on each other’s work before class on Thursday.
Day 3: Thursday 29 June (half day)
Morning: Mini Workshop. We spend the morning workshopping and exchanging comments on the first draft of each other’s work.
Afternoon (no class): Is free for Revision. Students refine their work, preparing their second drafts.
Day 4: Friday 30 June (full day)
All Day: Workshop Day. We spend most of the day workshopping and exchanging comments on the second draft of each other’s work. We will then spend the remaining time revising as a group.
Students are asked to polish their work for presentation the next day, emailing their final work by 9am Saturday so it can be included in the volume of students’ work.
Day 5: Saturday 1July (full day)
Morning: A field trip in the city, to find stories the city tells.
Afternoon: We present final work, reflecting on the writing process and Berlin.
Joseph Pearson is a non-fiction writer based in Berlin. His book, a portrait of Berlin, was published by Reaktion Books/University of Chicago Press (distr.) in 2017. He is the essayist and blogger of the Schaubühne, Berlin’s best-known theatre. Since 2008, he has been the voice of The Needle, one of Berlin’s most popular blogs. He writes for the BBC, Newsweek, Monocle Magazine, The New England Review, and others. He has lectured at Columbia University, NYC, and chairs a writing seminar at the Barenboim-Said Academy in Berlin. Born in Canada, he received his doctorate from Cambridge University, UK. His new book will appear in 2022 by HarperCollins and The History Press, and in Spanish translation.