Students Mediating Lives
3 May 2021 8:00am EST
The Forum Participants Will Discuss the Following Prompt:
Whose stories are legible and to whom? How are they made legible and on whose terms? [both in terms of options/ possibilities and in terms of limitations/ challenges]
Maria Rita Drumond Viana
The publishing industry in Brazil is catching up to the importance of bringing the “Complete Letters” of its writers; this year’s “All the Letters” of Clarice Lispector is coming out in December, just in time for her centenary. But publication, either of Brazilian writers or of foreign writers in translation, does not necessarily mean that these materials are taught in undergraduate courses or that they are considered in more than their ancillary status to the writers’ novels, poems, short stories, plays. In this paper I present my practice of teaching the epistolary both in large-classroom settings and as independent studies.
Maria Rita Drumond Viana is a professor at the Foreign Languages and Literatures Department at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil. My research focuses on life writing by authors in anglophone contexts and in translation into Portuguese.
Drawing on my book, I argue for the interview as both a method and form of life writing—with the latter often side-lined in pedagogy and theory. I further characterise the interviewer as an inscription technology, thus contributing to contemporary debate around the import of digital technologies for life writing.
Rebecca Roach authored Literature and the Rise of the Interview (Oxford UP, 2018) and co-edited “Interviewing as Creative Practice,” a special issue of Biography 41.2 (2018). Her work has appeared in Contemporary Literature, MFS, Textual Practice, and elsewhere. She is Lecturer in Contemporary Literature at the University of Birmingham.
I could be one of those people who ask endless questions, allowing prurient curiosity to take the place of courtesy, respect, connection. Or I could quiet myself and sit with what I don’t understand” (Clare, Brilliant Imperfection, 175). With this annunciation, Eli Clare challenges the educational imperative to “figure things out.” Clare’s grappling with the stories of others, and the self, does not mean solving them as if they were mathematical equations. In this presentation I will engage the pedagogical possibilities of teaching Clare’s work and asking students (and teachers) of life writing to “sit with” stories we don’t understand.
Vicki S. Hallett is an associate professor in the Department of Gender Studies at Memorial University. Her research and teaching live at the confluence of life narrative, place, identity, autoethnography, and feminist postcolonial theory. She is also a mother and someone who writes poetry.
The pandemic has changed not only the tools we use to teach and the ways we communicate with students, but also has impact on the pedagogy and the content of what we teach. In this presentation I would like to talk about the course on “Women’s Biographies” which I teach online at the University of Warsaw and my pedagogical strategy which is based on a reflection on biographical experience. Through reading and discussing women’s auto/biographies students learn about various ways of gender and self-representation. Ultimately, they involve in the process of speaking their own voices.
I am a postdoc interested in women’s studies and biographical research. I am the Director of the Center for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Warsaw. My last book is devoted to bell hooks and the process of women’s empowerment.
Shauni De Gussem
This conference paper describes the way creative writing students of the practical research lab “Real or made-up: life writing between reality and fiction” taught in spring 2020 explored the way literary devices can or cannot create distance between the life of the author and the text produced, all while still aiming to create texts of literary value. After many class discussions about truthfulness, objectivity and memory each student actively examined this aforementioned field of experimentation. Some of them wrote about own trauma and found literary procedures as a distancing technique to be helpful in their therapeutic process.
Shauni De Gussem teaches creative writing and several practical research labs on specific pressing topics to do with writing at Wisper School of Arts. She’s also a guest lecturer in screenwriting at the film school LUCA School of Arts and writes screenplays professionally for Belgian film and television.
In this short presentation, I want to share my experience of teaching a collection of letters written by women of Newfoundland and Labrador to the province’s first premier, J.R. Smallwood, in the first decade following Confederation in 1949. Many of these letters feature irregular or unconventional spelling and grammar. In many instances, spelling and grammar choices reflect local dialects. They also reflect limited access to formal education. How do students interact with primary materials that do not conform to their understandings of spelling and grammar? What assumptions do they make about the writers? And how might those assumptions shape classroom conversations?
Sonja Boon is Professor of Gender Studies at Memorial University. She is interested in bodies, stories, identities, and theories.