The Craft of Writing
R1B-004 | CCN: 24412
Language, Voice, and the Politics of Narrative
Instructor: Katie Brown & Tim Wyman-McCarthy
T/TH 8:00 – 9:30 AM, Wheeler 204 ///
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 capable of both harming and healing, oppressing and expressing a self? How can we envision a writing that speaks through what Audre Lorde calls the “master’s tools,” while simultaneously working to disrupt that language? What does it look like to write from the margin, from exile, or from loss, and how might we, as readers, writers, and thinkers, work to better attune ourselves to these modes of writing? To tackle these timeless questions, we will consult works of poetry, fiction, film, music, art, and comedy—as well as creations that defy such classifications—alongside works of postcolonial and feminist theory, aesthetic philosophy and narratology, eco-criticism and linguistics. You can expect to encounter works by bell hooks, Raymond Williams, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Franz Fanon, Toni Morrison, Eve Sedgwick, Anne Carson, Theodor Adorno, Derek Walcott, Layli Long Soldier, Theresa Cha, Ursula K. Le Guin, 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, mobilizations of satire and irony, genre-bending, dialect, appropriation or mimicry, 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. 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 thinkers and artists we study, we will endeavor to strike a balance between articulating and organizing evidence and ideas, while exploring techniques that push the boundaries of what is possible in writing, art, and language.