Course Catalog

Exercises in Empathy

All Levels | It’s often said that reading makes us better people by increasing our empathy. But the reverse is also true: increased empathy makes us better readers and, as a result, better writers. In this class, we’ll learn how to exercise our empathy through readings, discussions, and writing exercises. Readings will includes excerpts from work by Leslie Jamison, Alice Munro, and others.

Beginning Fall 2021, we will be adding select in-person classes back to our course catalog. The majority of our classes will still be offered via Zoom.

If a class says IN-PERSON in its title, it will take place in person at our permanent home in Seattle.

If a class says ASYNCHRONOUS in its title, it will take place on Wet Ink, our asynchronous learning platform.

If a class does not have a marker after its title, it will take place via Zoom.

Instructor: Ruth Joffre

Class Type: 2 Sessions

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Start Date: 04/19/2018

End Date: 04/26/2018

Days of the Week: Thursday

Time: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm PDT

Minimum Class Size: 5

Maximum Class Size: 15

$154.80 Member Price:
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$172.00 General Price:

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Ruth Joffre

Ruth Joffre is the author of the story collection Night Beast (forthcoming Grove Atlantic 2018). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Kenyon Review, Mid-American Review, The Masters Review, Prairie Schooner, Hayden's Ferry Review, and Copper Nickel. Her book reviews have been published in The Rumpus, The Millions, Kenyon Review Online, and Colorado Review. She lives in Seattle.

Teaching Philosophy: I believe every piece of literature is an emotional education. A story like Mavis Gallant's "The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street," for instance, requires us not only to understand the inner workings of its characters' psyches but to become the kind of people who are capable of feeling as they feel and thinking as they think. In this way, we learn to feel sympathy for the socially awkward, love for the romantically jilted, and sorrow for the painfully ambitious. When we can't expand our minds this way, our writing and our reading suffers.

Writers I return to: Alice Munro, Annie Proulx, Mavis Gallant, W. G. Sebald, Elizabeth Strout, Maggie Nelson, Anita Brookner, Penelope Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Richard Yates, Elizabeth McCracken, and James Baldwin, to name a few.

Favorite writing advice: Hands down, this piece of advice from Benjamin Percy: "Keep hammering."

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