Avant Women Writers: A Conversation
Kate Bernheimer, The Complete Tales Of Merry Gold
Jenny Boully, The Body
Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red
Thalia Field, ULULU
Kass Fleisher, Accidental Species: A Reproduction
Christine Hume, Alaskaphrenia
Stacey Levine, Frances Johnson
Carole Maso, AVA
Joyelle McSweeney, Nylund, The Sacographer
Selah Saterstrom, The Pink Institution
Hyper-texts available on-line:
Debra DiBlasi, Jiri Cech
Shelley Jackson, My Body
Stephanie Strickland, Vniverse
(Strongly) Recommended Texts:
Catherine Kasper, Field Stone
Vanessa Place, Dies: A Sentence
Lidia Yuknavitch, Reel to Real
Debra di Blasi, The Real Chronicles of Jiri Cech
Course Description: Unlike many English literature courses, which tend to focus on the "dead, white male," this class flips the old paradigm for something new: female writers who push the limits of writing as an art form who are still alive and kicking and writing and challenging! This course invites the conversation between reader, text, and writer to emerge as a new "possibility-space" for the study of literature. Students will engage in active dialogues with these avant women writers through author interviews and blog participation. It is through this interaction that we can learn how and why these women are "avant," why they do not submit to the status quo but struggle against it fiercely. We will be exploring texts by and conversing with writers such as: Anne Carson, Shelley Jackson, Carole Maso, Stephanie Strickland, Kate Bernheimer, and Lidia Yuknavitch.
Course Requirements: This is not your ordinary literature course. For one, this will be a very reading intensive course, but more importantly, the goal for this course is INTERACTION and CONVERSATION! Every writer that we will read this semester has agreed to correspond with the class as a whole, and through this dialogue, I hope to form a conversation between you (the reader) and the writer and the text.
Students will break into small groups for presentations of author interviews. Even if you are not in a group that is presenting a certain author, you are more than welcome to contact them. In fact, they welcome it! Each group will present two authors/books.
Within 48 hours of the presentation, the group must post the notes from the conversation with the author on-line on our class blog. In addition to the transcription of the text, group members are expected to respond to the ways in which the conversations have changed your view of the text. Keep in mind, conversation is meant in the broadest manner here. Conversations may be between: you and the text, you and the writer, the text and the writer, the class discussion, or even the dialogue between your reading of the text and your own creative writing.
Students will submit a creative response for each class.
In lieu of a final exam, you will be required to write an 8-10 page research or analytical essay based on these or other “avant” texts.
Grading: Your grade will be calculated as follows:
Creative responses: 30%
Group presentations: 25%
Final essay: 15%
Participation (both in-class & blog): 30%
Creative Responses: Rather than require you all to write response essays or journals, instead, I would like for you all to respond to each of the readings that you are NOT presenting on with a creative project of some kind. This can range from, but is not exclusive to, a short story or poem to a painting to a mix cd to fabrics. If you’re uncomfortable doing a creative response, you’re welcome to write a 2-4 page analytical essay on the text as long as it is NOT a book report!
Conversing with your Community: Because I believe it is absolutely important to have a knowledge of and support for community arts, in order to receive an A in this course, you MUST attend THREE community arts events (poetry readings, plays, art openings, etc.) and write a short response to each. Think of this as another method of conversation.
This calendar is subject to revision.
Jan. 15 Introductions & definitions: Our first conversation
Why only women?: Our second conversation
How did we get here?
Divide into groups; set presentation calendars
Jan. 22 CLASS CANCELLED: reschedule?
In lieu of class, we will be discussing Carson’s Autobiography of Red on the blog. Each student must post once and comment on someone else’s post.
Carson, Autobiography of Red, (We’ll also discuss Carson on Jan. 29 so don’t fret.)
Jan. 29 Bernheimer, The Complete Tales of Merry Gold
Feb. 5 Levine, Frances Johnson
Feb. 12 Boully, The Body
Feb. 19 Maso, AVA
Feb. 26 Yuknavitch, Reel to Real, selected stories
selection from Place, Dies
Mar. 4 SPRING BREAK!
Mar. 11 Field, ULULU
Mar. 18 Fleisher, Accidental Species
Mar. 25 McSweeney, Nylund, The Sarcographer
Apr. 1 Strickland, Vniverse
Jackson, My Body
DiBlasi, Jiri Cech
Apr. 8 Hume, Alaskaphrenia
Apr. 15 Class cancelled for Notre Dame’s A Festival of Our Own.
Apr. 22 Saterstrom, The Pink Institution
Apr. 29 Last day of class