This Week’s Class

Hi everybody. Here’s the plan for this week’s class. We’re reading Michelle Tea’s “Against Memoir”–at Catherine’s suggestion. (You can find it on our Further Readings page.)

1. We’ll convene on Zoom. I’ll send everybody an invitation around 4:30. Catherine will say a few words about why she chose Tea’s essay.

2. We’ll turn off our cameras and use the chat for a little while. I’m going to offer some prompts–with certain people assigned as point people on those prompts. If you are a point person, your job is to  offer some ideas in relation to the prompt and invite the rest of us into the discussion. Point people for particular questions do not need to convene in advance–unless you want to. I’ll just ask each point person to post an observation, respond to each other, and then the rest of us can jump in.

The Prompts
Salazar, Jen, Ra: How does time work in Tea’s essay? What are signs or words that signal time? How does the essay move around in time? How does Tea make that movement work?

Nick, Sarah, Lucy: What are the effects of Tea’s humor and self-deprecation? Where does the humor show up? What kind of humor is it? How does the humor work as rhetoric?

Matt, Cordelia: What language does Tea use to name herself as a writer? How do the various writer roles she names shape the dimensions of her persona or voice? How is her use of first-person and third-person pronouns related to all this.

Ariel, Catherine: How does the structure of the essay work? How is place a factor in its structure? What recurring motifs, images, or rhetorical moves create continuity? Or interesting forms of discontinuity?

3. After this, we’ll reconvene on video. When we do, we’ll discuss the variety of ways Tea defines writing. As you read, look out for–and mark–moments where you notice these definitions. Some key words to look for: hypergraphia, storytelling, stories, memoir, performance, writing, typing, book, narrative, personal narrative. 

4. As we do number 3, I’m sure other ideas and questions will emerge. Hopefully that will just happen organically.

And that’s it!

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