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Back to Memoir and Personal Essay: Managing Your Relationship with the Reader

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Memoir and Personal Essay: Managing Your Relationship with the Reader by Wesleyan University

229 ratings

About the Course

The blank page can be the most daunting obstacle in writing. In this course, aspiring writers will assemble a “starter kit” for approaching the blank page by developing constructive ways to think about the writing process as a whole. While subsequent courses in this series will focus on the mechanics of good writing, this course offers ways to think about the writer’s relationship to her material, and ultimately develop a writing style that is uniquely her own....

Top reviews


Aug 4, 2019

The information was given in such a way that I found myself re-thinking all of the stories I've written, wanting to explore other options and re-write from a clearer perspective. Truly valuable.


Aug 22, 2019

Just started today and finished already teh first week...fantastic ...well spoken, well informed, easy to understand from someone english is a second language. Look forward to the next weeks.

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1 - 25 of 109 Reviews for Memoir and Personal Essay: Managing Your Relationship with the Reader

By Peter C

Jan 4, 2020

I felt that sometimes the instructions for the assignments were not clear, or if they were clear, what was being requested was rather trivial and elementary. Perhaps that was what made it hard to review one's peers. I was rather disappointed that the number of peer reviews, and their depth and content, were so minimal. I was diligent in reviewing others' - ranging from a minimum of 6 to a max of 13 reviews per assignment, over the four weeks. Yet most of the time I only had one, and occasionally two, people make any comments in the peer review. I may well have misunderstood what was being asked. So many of the contributions were of a low standard in grammar and sentence structure, even if the situations they were describing were full of interest and life. They wouldn't have passed a 5th grade teacher. Having said that, the video presentations by the professor were very engaging and I enjoyed thinking about the points he made.

By Rabia A

Aug 31, 2020

The two stars are for the quality of the instruction. For each of the four parts of this course. The rest of it is truly reprehensible. The focus seems to be on getting people to sign up and pay up. Obviously, for the price one can't expect any feedback from the instructors but peer feedback is a disaster. Most of the people I've had to review or who have reviewed my submissions have enormous difficulty with the English language. Some of them can't write a straight sentence in English. On the site we are asked to make allowances for the fact that English may not be the first language of the students. But this is a writing course—writing in English. People who cannot write in English should not be enrolled in this course. But Coursera seems to care only about taking in the fees. I'm surprised that the instructors—all of them successful, critically acclaimed writers and poets—should sign on to a project where bringing in the money (enrolling people in the thousands) seems to be the priority.

By Ruth L G

Apr 20, 2019

I loved the challenge of writing BUT I received one feedback apiece on only my 1st and 3rd assignment. I reviewed 3 assignments from others for all of the assignments. They were minimal. Maybe you should guide us what we say to other writers.

By joy o

Dec 7, 2019

While, I found the professor engaging in personality, I don't think he did a good job of explaining some of the concepts such as diagesis and frame well to a beginner writer. His lectures could have been longer than 5 minutes. I found myself trying to find clearer definitions and examples elsewhere and still never clearly understood them. I did enjoy the writing prompts and exercises and found them helpful to improve writing. One other point: the course needs a monitor/mentor. There is no one out there to answer genuine questions about the course. Also, I had one piece to evaluate that was porn, and that never should have gotten through. I did report it to Coursera.

By Elaine D d S

Jul 7, 2019

I would prefer to have a teacher's review of my material.

By Alicia W

Jul 3, 2020

Loved the course. The assignments were enough of a challenge and very manageable. I loved that the videos have transcripts because I am hearing impaired. I found that the majority of my peers gave good, helpful and encouraging reviews. I would have preferred a more personal sharing from the instructor at some point.

By Carole A E

Feb 4, 2021

I thought that the lectures were excellent, though I would have liked more of them. Paying for the course, rather than auditing it, helped me set deadlines, and integrate the lessons with the exercises. I especially liked the last lecture, but found them all instructive. Greg's teaching style was a treat. He was informative, yet not strident, confident yet not arrogant. I would give him five stars and suggest that you consider changing your review page to separate the course instruction from the rest of the online experience. I feel that the website is very clunky, needs a re-make and that the peer reviews were, by their very nature--other students, some just beginners, some more advanced, inconsistent and sometimes unhelpful. For example, peers who simply answereddid "Yes," or "no" to a rubirc, question aren't going to move anyone to the next level of writing. I also felt that the questions associated with the assignment's rubric were often too general, or vague.

By Colin P

Jun 6, 2019

I enjoyed doing the course. Some of the ideas I gathered doing it were very exciting. However, I was very disappointed in terms of feedback. I received one bit of feedback over the whole course. Also, there was nobody to contact if and when you came across problems. For instance, I was forced to review the same essay twice simply because I couldn't get hold of anyone to rectify the problem. There will always be problems so, it is important that there is someone to deal with them. This is not acceptable.

By Austine C

Aug 20, 2019

I enjoyed the course, the lectures and the incentive to write. But I was very disappointed that I did not get enough reviews of one of my assignments. I hope there will be more reviews so I can get a grade. I don't understand the deadline system. People seem to be enrolling willy nilly.

By Marcia S

Nov 16, 2020

This was a great short course to pursue to brush up on your Memoir and Essay Writing skills. However, the Peer Review segment left a lot to be desired. Some seems bent on just giving negative reviews without fully understanding the requirements and the concept of the assignment. Maybe the course should change to questions and answers using the grading concept used by colleges and universities instead of peers. I say this also because it seems that language barrier also played a part in students understanding the assignment

By eileen p

Aug 18, 2019

The instructor was excellent, clearly and patiently explaining key concepts; and the assignments were useful to make me think about the writing.

I am not a writer and my enjoyment and appreciation of writing have grown significantly. Thank you!

By Deleted A

Feb 25, 2019

I audited this course to brush up on my personal essay skills. I think that's something every blogger and writer, like myself, should do periodically. I enjoyed the course and I think I'll enjoy the rest of the specialization just as well.

By Susan L

Aug 5, 2019

The information was given in such a way that I found myself re-thinking all of the stories I've written, wanting to explore other options and re-write from a clearer perspective. Truly valuable.

By Kholoud T

Sep 4, 2020

I really appreciate the professor and his classes I have enjoyed every single video and every assignment It is really useful course which will allow us to know how exactly to write a memoir.

By Foula

Jul 28, 2020

I found the instructor's pre-recorded lectures helpful. I would have liked to have had more interaction with the instructor -- either through Discussion, Office Hours or even a one-time event. The one note I did receive from the professor about half-way through the course felt canned and generalized. It seemed to be a message to everyone. The material and prompts were helpful, though the discussion forums were not always. I also think the syllabus should include step-by-step instruction for submission and review as a lot of people were frustrated by these.

By B E

Mar 12, 2021

The professor is kinda hard to identify with and understand. The course material was okay but truly, difficult to understand and identify with due to the professor using strange terminology I am not familiar with and he does not explain things well at all, this course was actually a pretty big let down after other courses on writing I have taken. I got the least out of this class. I am STILL waiting for reviews of my work to be done and STILL waiting for reviews to do so that I can pass the class. I have moved on to other classes, but am STILL waiting and that means I have to keep coming back several times a day to find there are still no reviews for me to do and mine have still not been done. Frankly, this course is so poor, if it were not part of the certificate, I would say pass this course, it is basically useless and nothing more than a time suck and disappointment.

By Kelly W

May 1, 2020

Almost impossible to get through these videos - so boring. I'm probably going to just quit this course and request a refund. The speaker may be a great writer and perfectly nice human but the slow, uninteresting tone and manner of speech is making this a very un-enjoyable process.

By Camila L

Sep 9, 2020

The videos were too brief and not substantial enough. I do not like not getting any feedback from the instructor; peer feedback was superficial and not helpful;.

By Tracy A W

Jul 8, 2020

I really enjoyed this course. I've been working on my own memoir for about six months, with no organization or formal training. I've been able to solidify some of the work that I've already written and been able to create more layers of detail in what I have so far. I really enjoyed the instructor's videos and his easygoing speaking style. This is my first peer review course, and at first, I wasn't sure I would get enough feedback, but most of it is very valuable. I enjoyed the course and got a lot of value out of it.

By Linda A

Sep 7, 2020

For me it was perfect, about 2 to 4 hours a week between watching the videos, thinking about the assignment and then writing. The first week I think I was poorly matched to my peer-reviewers as they made few if any comments. The other three weeks, the program found 'my' stride and I was paired with excellent reviewers who helped me to improve my story-telling with their observations. Again, for me at this point in time, these short and to-the-point videos are perfect and well-matched to the assignments.

By J J

Oct 4, 2020

Excellent Introduction Course

I gained more confidence in myself as a writer. I was able to become more comfortable with the idea of being reviewed by peers. I found feedback by peers helpful. It was also helpful to review work by peers as a way to improve my own writing and thought processes. The instructor, Mr. Pardio, delivered his messages in an engaging and thought-provoking manner.

By Paula P

Jul 26, 2020

This course was excellent all around - the professor was wonderful and offered valuable insights to the writing process, and thinking about the writing process for oneself. I learned a ton about choosing topics, frames, and techniques to tell the story which have helped me to open up the door to writing my memoir.

By Deleted A

Sep 25, 2021

I loved this course with its excellent lectures and writing challenges. Replaying the videos fostered enhanced understanding of memoir writing. The peer reviews provided helpful communication from others on this writing journey. Greg Pardlo made the course enjoyable while relaying information.

By Victoria R

Sep 2, 2020

The assignments were very helpful, although the instructions were sometimes not as clear as they should have been. Video instruction was good. I especially liked Mr. Pardlo's easy manner and his use of poems to help make his points. I had an excellent experience with the peer reviewers, too.

By Alison E L

Sep 7, 2020

Gregory Pardlo has a friendly demeanor while he provides extremely insightful tips on how an author can present themselves to the reader when writing memoir. The homework aligned well with the lessons, providing the opportunity to put the information from each week's videos into practice.