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Writing Workshop Offers Tips on Telling Your Ancestors' Story, or Your Own

Tuesday, Oct. 08, 2019

Evelyn Funda, Jennifer Sinor and Patrick Mason.

An upcoming writing workshop focusing on memoirs and biographies will feature three professors and professional writers from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Presenting at the seminar are Evelyn Funda and Jennifer Sinor, both professors of English, and Patrick Mason, associate professor of history. The daylong Writers' Workshop for Autobiography and Biography is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 26 at the main Salt Lake City Public Library.

Writers interested in recording their own stories or those of their ancestors will learn from experts in the field at the upcoming Writers’ Workshop for Autobiography and Biography. 

The daylong seminar, sponsored by Utah State University’s Mountain West Center for Regional Studies, will be held Saturday, Oct. 26, in the main branch of the Salt Lake City Public Library, 210 E. 400 South. The workshop has a $50 registration fee to cover food and workshop materials. Space is limited so early registration is encouraged. 

Professional biographers, memoirists and an a certified genealogist will lead workshop sessions, which are designed for novice and seasoned biographers, as well as writers of memoir and family histories, said Evelyn Funda, director of the Mountain West Center. “We want writers to walk away with tips for their own use,” she said. 

Patrick Mason, the USU Leonard J. Arrington Endowed Chair of Mormon History and Culture, will deliver the lunchtime keynote address on representing religious experience in biographies that are aimed at a general audience. 

Attendees will be able to choose from two workshops in the morning and two in the afternoon.
Presenters are all university faculty who have published in this genre. In addition to Mason, presenters are Evelyn Funda and Jennifer Sinor, English professors at USU; Amy Harris, history professor at BYU; and Erin A. Thomas, adjunct professor at Weber State University and the LDS Business College. 

This workshop is part of the Evans Biography Awards program that celebrates achievement in the genres of biography and autobiography. Housed in the Mountain West Center for more than 30 years, the Evans Biography Awards are presented biennially for excellent works of autobiography, biography, memoir, or family history published in the previous two years, highlighting individuals who had a significant influence on the region known as the Interior West. 

This writers’ workshop takes place in alternating years with the biennial selection and presentation of the awards, Funda said. 

Funda and Erin Thomas are themselves previous Evans Award winners. In previous years, the Evans Awards have gone to such history writers as Leonard J. Arrington, Gregory Prince, Timothy Egan, Terry Tempest Williams, Ivan Doig and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. 

For more information and to register for the workshop, visit the Mountain West Center website at You can also access the Evans Biography Awards criteria, submission details and a list of all previous winners on this website. 


  • - Janelle Hyatt, Communications Director, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, (435) 797-0289

Media Contact:

  • - Barbara Warnes, Program Assistant, Mountain West Center for Regional Studies, 435-797-0299

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