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Sometimes students want to forge a deeper personal connection to a professor and that professor’s work. Office hours offer such an opportunity: to engage in one-on-one conversations and explore questions that may, or may not, be directly related to their coursework.

William Giraldi (GRS’03), an Arts & Sciences Writing Program master lecturer, has been teaching the popular course The Memoir since 2005, 11 years before the publication of his own memoir, The Hero’s Body, about his teenage years in New Jersey and the untimely and violent death of his father. While Giraldi’s memoir isn’t on the syllabus, which focuses on authors like Nick Flynn, Kathryn Harrison, Lauren Slater, and Thomas Lynch, he says teaching the class for so many years has influenced his writing process.

When Alice White (CAS’20) was shopping for a class that would fulfill a writing requirement, she chose The Memoir, in part because her grandfather had recently told her that he was working on a memoir. This surprised White, and she reached out to Giraldi to gain some insight into what goes into writing a memoir.

In the latest installment of our new video series “Office Hours,” Giraldi talks with White about how teaching a memoir class helped shape his own work and the qualities necessary to writing the genre.