Excavating Memory

Think like an Archaeologist & Reveal New Literary Material

Excavating Memory


When writing personal narrative, it can be easy to overlook or discount the most telling details from your life because they are familiar or too commonplace to warrant notice.

But for historical archaeologists, everyday objects are material evidence, full of meaning that helps us realign the deeper truth of experience with the stories we tell about who we are and how we live. Drawing from her seven-year experience as a technician at Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park Archeology Laboratory, novelist and essayist Elizabeth Mosier demonstrates how an archaeological approach can bring fresh insight to the writer’s craft.

During this workshop you will:

  • LEARN how to “read” objects;
  • EXPAND and gain new perspective on your work by incorporating material culture into your personal narrative;
  • PRACTICE paying attention to small things that tell larger stories;
  • USE documents to connect objects to people and develop stories; and
  • IDENTIFY potential topics for further exploration.

The workshop is open to writers of all levels.

*NOTE: Please bring a small personal object or heirloom that intrigues you to the workshop.


Saturday, November 3, 2018
10:00 am – 4:30 pm

Advance registration strongly recommended.
The workshop is limited to 16 students.


Location // 5119 Coral Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

The lower level of our workshop and gallery space is wheelchair accessible. Free on-street parking is available.

Doors open at 9 am, event begins at 10 am. Breakfast and coffee will be provided. The workshop schedule includes a mid-day break for lunch at area restaurants, but boxed lunches can be provided for a nominal fee (advanced notice required) and a kitchenette, with refrigerator and microwave, is available onsite for packed lunches or snacks.


Elizabeth Mosier logged 1,000 volunteer hours processing colonial-era artifacts at Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park Archeology Laboratory to write Excavating Memory: Archaeology and Home, forthcoming from New Rivers Press in spring 2019. Her work has been selected as notable in The Best American Essays series and appears widely in journals and newspapers, including Cleaver, Creative Nonfiction, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. She has twice been named a discipline winner by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and has received fellowships from The Millay Colony for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Questions? Please call us at 412-404-2975 or email our director of education, Sharla Yates at yates@creativenonfiction.org.