Memory Maps: An Introduction to Creative Nonfiction, a Workshop

with Anelise Chen

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 6:30pm to Tuesday, March 27, 2018 9:00pm
Asian American Writers' Workshop
112 W. 27th St, STE 600
New York, NY 10001

Media Gallery

Five Sessions, 2.5 hours (6:30PM-9:00PM)
Tuesdays*, February 20th, 27th, March 6th**, March 20th, March 27th
Fees & Payment Options: $270 General/$240 Member (JOIN THE FANCLUB!)
Registration Deadline: February 13th, 2018

*There will be no class on March 13th.
**On March 6th, class will run 7PM-9PM.


REGISTER HERE

Why You Should Take This Class: In recent years, scientists have found that memory and imagination call upon the same “default network” in the brain, suggesting that the recreation of memory is not merely an act of retrieval, but also one of imaginative projection. Philosophers and artists have long noted that memory is mutable territory, its topographical features dependent entirely on the stories we tell ourselves. Another way to think about narrative is that it provides an account for how we got to the present moment, reaffirming once again that we were here, here, and here, which means that the next logical turn should be over there. Well-worn paths may be familiar, but not all are safe or lead to happy endings. Sometimes boundaries shift after a storm, or new mountains erupt into the horizon. When this happens, narrative becomes a necessary navigation tool to help us travel from past to future.


Course Description: In this class, we will approach narrative writing as mapmakers of memory: We will visit the terrain, determine our location, establish the scale, insert symbols, and learn how to refine what we have mapped. We will read essays, theoretical texts, and memoir excerpts to explore each of these concepts and skills, and reinforce them through discussion and in-class exercises. Finally, we will apply these skills in workshop by generating meaningful and constructive feedback that will provide a foundation for further exchange and collaboration.

Blending elements of memoir and sports writing, Anelise Chen’s So Many Olympic Exertions (Kaya Press, 2017) is an experimental work that perhaps most resembles what the ancient Greeks called hyponemata, or “notes to the self,” in the form of observations, reminders and self-exhortations. The book follows graduate student Athena Chen who hears that her college friend has committed suicide. A former Open City Fellow of the Asian American Writers' Workshop, she is now fiction editor of AAWW's online publication The Margins. Read her writing about Tao Lin and interviewing the owner of a Chinatown dumpling shop. She teaches writing at Columbia University.

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