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Re-creating: Notes Towards Day 17 (Tues. Nov. 1)

Anne Dalke's picture

I. coursekeeping
is welcoming us, with snacks!,
to the second floor Common Room, New Dorm
--very meaningful for us to be here: culmination of "Black @ Bryn Mawr Tour,"
great compliment to Maia's taking us to Taft Garden where, as she wrote afterwards,
"the subtle presence [of M. Carey Thomas's tiles] was an appropriate backdrop
for exploring a novel dealing with the legacy of those absent."

Rachel is on for Thursday
reminder to Morine: post about your decision/the consequences....

to complete mid-term evals @ the end of class!

* when Jody and I met last night,
we agreed
(in response to some of her students' mid-term evals),
to shift some assignments in the syllabus: we're going
to take 4 classes (instead of 3) to talk about Ozeki's novel.

we won't actually talk about the last part/the ending
til next Tuesday, so just read as far as you can get for Thursday--
when we're going to "make some movies" of it, so as you read,
take note of what about the novel seems particularly
"cinematic" to you; come to class having selected a scene 
(or sequence) that seems to illustrate this...

* your ninth paper is due this Friday;
I want all of you to write about All Over Creation;
for some of you, it will be a second draft, for others a first--
no problem....we don't have to/won't be in lockstep
from here on out

II. (11:30) start today with small writing group workshops
Karen Tei Yamashita (another eco-novelist whose work we considered for this class),
says in an interview called The Latitude of a Fiction Writer: A Dialogue,
that her project is about "discovering a new map behind the old map":
"I think that for fiction writers, there is this latitude that is special - you don't have to follow
any narrow line of thought. You don't have to prove something that is already often obvious.
The presentation in fiction is very free, and you can play with or examine different ideas that you might not be able to if you have to focus or narrow your investigation."
This is certainly what Ruth Ozeki claimed, too, when she said that her novel was
"not agenda-driven," "not a Trojan Horse" (with a message hidden inside).

Your job now is to spend 1/2 hour to "narrow
Ozeki's line of thought" for the paper due this Friday.
I've divided you into 2 large groups depending on where you are in this process:
Those starting a new paper on AOC:
Francesca, Melinda, Princess, Toni (no posting yet?), Rachel, Maia, Irene (and Cathy ?);
those working on a second draft (mostly focusing on inheritance):
Morine, Ginneh, Kat, Beatriz, Amanda
each large group subdivide into groups of 2-3;
would be great to partner with folks you haven't work with (much) yet.

Groups A and B (new paper writers)
should start with your postings from last night, helping
one another brainstorm  where those quotes might take you for a paper.
take turns: read your 3 quotes aloud,
explain briefly what interested you/why you selected them...
which seems most engaging to you?
how might they be connected?
what are the implications of the quotes?
[one way to think about this would be to
think about how they might intersect with,
or be read by, one of our other authors...]

you can have two weeks to work on this paper,
if you need/want that time; this exercise
is to push your thinking, so that when
you do come to your claim, it will be more complex...

Groups C & D will probably want to start,
instead, by sharing what you wrote this weekend
about inheritance--and talk about how you might
grow that paper into a more complicated analysis of
the novel. (If you want to shift your topic to something
more about "identity and environment," also fine!)

Each of you gets 10-15 minutes of
brainstorming from your partners
on how you might grow a paper;
your job is to listen carefully,
take notes of your classmates' ideas.

Each of you is looking for an idea,
something that involves "sticking your neck out" --
AND that can be backed up w/ lotsa textual evidence!

We're asking all of you to use your writing to
really think through your ideas ("writer-based prose"),
the most daring and "fleshiest" version of your thinking;
first-drafters: don't worry so much this time 'round
about refining into "reader-based prose." But it should
be a full paper, not just bullet points or lists of quotes.
Second-drafters: your earlier version should be more
"reader-based," more consciously shaped for your

From now on out, just post your papers on-line (and I will
continue to respond on-line, not doing any line-editing,
but nudging you to focus and support your argument).

IV. (by 12:15): return to large group
who's got a quote we can look @ closely together?

possible talking points:
structure of the novel:
in an interview, Ozekisaid that
"my first two novels...are very concerned with the interconnected nature of our lives and the world.
In Buddhism, we call this dependent co-arising, or 'interbeing'....Nothing exists independently of
anything else. Novels...are a beautiful way to investigate...the way we inter-are."

The way she cuts back and forth from "The Seeds of Resistance"
to the Fuller's farm, from Yumi's past to her present, illustrates this "inter-being"
[do you find this confusing? her not keeping the foreground/background/
main and back-up characters in line...?]

But Ozeki also says, perhaps in countering this idea of "oneness" (?), that "novels are time-based
and need to move through was in the editing room where I really started to learn the
fundamentals of storytelling….I didn’t know how to move a character across a room, never
mind across months or years or a lifetime. Editing film and video teaches you how to do
exactly this…working in film and video has taught me to 'see' novels in cinematic terms.
I think about things like frame size, and focal length, and I use filmic techniques like visual
description, rhythm, and montage when I write…" [why we'll be 'making movies' on Thursday...:)]

V. (by 12:35): write a mid-semester evaluation of this course, to hand in to me now:
what's working? what needs working on?
what's playing well? what needs playing with?
both in our class dynamics generally, and your own particular role in them?