Topic outline

  • General

    writing seminar

    Ways of Telling:
    Reading Written and Visual Narratives
    Fall 2009
    M-Th 11:30 - 12:50, D34


    Photograph by Wright MorrisWhen we think about narratives, we most often think of prose—words that tell a story. But what happens when writers—novelists, memoirists, and nonfiction writers—integrate images into their narratives—photographs archived in history museums, personal photographs, or evocative graphics that merge with the written text? In this writing seminar, we will investigate the elusive dialogue between words and visual images, and consider how we “read” or interpret both prose and pictures. Beginning with Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carry, a genre-bending autobiographical novel that explores the convergence of memory and imagination, we will explore Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Close & Incredibly Loud (a child’s wild vision and wild hurt in confronting the cataclysm of 9/11) Wright Morris’s memoir The Home Place (a photo-text that takes us back to a single day in Wright’s boyhood home in Nebraska) Leslie Marmon Silko’s autobiographical collage Storyteller and John Berger and Jean Mohr’s Another Way of Telling.. We will consider the point at which photographs enter the texts and examine how they act to undercut, reinforce, and/or expand the written narrative. And, of course, . . .we will write. During this semester, we will explore writing as an activity that we learn by doing, with some coaching. For this reason, our class time will be spent generally doing, not listening to lectures about writing. The way we will work toward our goal is through lots of practice in writing, critiquing, and rewriting. A long distance runner improves her or his times by running faster, more frequently, and through good coaching. A painter spends long hours in the studio, reworking line and color—getting it just right. This class will be your writing studio. You will work on your craft, rewriting, revising, rethinking, polishing; and I will be your coach, your advisor, and your supporter, but not the only coach. All of your writing will be read by other students, and each of you will become a coach. We will take seriously the opening line of Patricia Hampl’s book, I Could Tell You Stories: “A writer is, first and last, a reader.”
  • Topic 1

    Syllabus and calendar