R1B-003 | CCN: 25403

The Craft of Writing

Narrative Subversions

Instructor: Katherine Brown & Tim Wyman-McCarthy

4 Units

M/W/F 4:00PM-5:00PM, Dwinelle 229 

In Adrienne Rich’s poem “The Burning of Paper Instead of Children,” she writes: “this is the oppressor’s language, yet I need it to talk to you.” What does it mean to speak, or write, using a language that has been harmful or oppressive? How can we envision a writing that speaks through what Audre Lorde calls the “master’s tools,” while simultaneously working to disrupt that language and its norms? What does it look like to write from the margins, from exile, or from loss, and how might we, as readers, writers, and thinkers, work to better attune ourselves to these modes of writing? In this course, we will tackle such perennial questions by consulting literary theory, postcolonial studies, feminist theory, and eco criticism alongside works of poetry and fiction, as well as looking to film, music, art and comedy. You can expect to encounter works by bell hooks, Raymond Williams, Edward Said, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Franz Fanon, Toni Morrison, Anne Carson, Derek Walcott, Layli Long Soldier, Theresa Cha, Hannah Gadsby, Childish Gambino and more. Together, we will read attentively for how these writers work through and against the languages and narratives of the canon, society, or tradition. From there, we will collaborate to identify writerly techniques such as the rewriting or revisioning of the classics, (post)colonial adaptation, satire or irony, genre-bending, dialect, appropriation or mimicry, play with form, as well as the refusal, reinvigoration, or invention of language itself.

Over the course of the semester, formal written assignments and informal classroom exercises will work to target and improve skills of textual analysis, critical thought, argumentative writing, and research proficiency. Together we will develop strategies for analyzing and synthesizing complex arguments across disciplines, styles, and academic contexts, while constructing and supporting original argumentative claims through the use of research and properly cited textual evidence. True to the ethos of the writers we study, we will endeavor to strike a balance between articulating and organizing evidence and ideas, while interrogating the myriad techniques that push the boundaries of what is possible in writing, art, and language.