Reading & Composition
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live...” so Joan Didion. For poet Ocean Vuong, a story is a “virtual reality into another world, out of the present” and essayist Rebecca Solnit writes that “stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, … and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of the world.”
This summer session is dedicated to the art and politics of storytelling. What is a story? Who gets to be the hero or heroine of a story and who gets to tell their story in the first place? How does storytelling relate to constructions of identity and community? What happens when someone tells a story but no one listens? To advance our exploration of questions such as these, we will discuss different theories of storytelling; learn how to analyze stories; and investigate the differences and continuities in stories told in different contexts (anthropological, political) and media (film, photography). We will also practice writing ourselves—and this includes both exercises in creative writing and seminar papers. Our goal is to find out how, in writing an analytical college essay, you can draw on elements
of storytelling to convey an argument and critical insights. By the end of this course, you will be able to analyze the dynamics of storytelling in different contexts and improve your own written version of storytelling—a skill that extends well beyond the classroom.
Readings and viewings include work by Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Anne Carson, Charlotte Delbo, Johann Wolfgang v. Goethe, Abbas Khider, Ulrike Ottinger, Ocean Vuong.