Cracking Open the Course and the Imagination

Leaving Text to Return to Text

Tuesday February 12

Introduction to the Course Mining the Source, Writing What You Know & What You Imagine

Thinking Beyond Text

Wednesday, February 13

Workshop #1: Blogs and Digital Stories; Knowledge Trees and Play


Assignment Due Today:

1. Write a list of words (at least 20) that resonate deeply with you (words you couldn’t live without because of their sound, their taste, their look, their meaning–). Record yourself saying these words and upload to your computer.

2. Letters to the Class:

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” –Ernest Hemingway

Before we can enter into this essentially communal work of a writing class, in which we are all apprentices to one another, we must understand a little bit about who we are as the individuals making up this community; we must, as Russian emigrants would before they left their homes for the last time, sit on our suitcases and look back at where we’ve been, where we come from, as we head into our future.

For inspiration, read Katie’s , Maddie‘s and Alex‘s from their ENAM 170 days.

Read in D’Agata, the Table of Contents, Epigraphs, “To the Reader” and “Prologue,” and then write a one-two page “To the Class” letter about yourself and your history as reader and writer, your relationships (good and bad) with language and imagination. Make these like real letters– spontaneous and fresh rather than revised and shiny. Have these on your computer or TIGERCAT.

We’ll respond to one another’s letters, opening up a correspondence (via our blog) that will wend its way through the semester and (hopefully) beyond. Periodically we’ll return to these initial expressions of ourselves, amend and extend our sense of ourselves as writers. At the end of the semester we’ll reflect upon the full course journey. So, the important message here is to write authentically–tell us what you need to know and what you need us to know. Discover something about yourself and/or writing through every act of writing, including this one. Think about how you want us to know you–as much through HOW you write as WHAT you write in this assignment.

MAKE SURE YOU PUT YOUR PIECE ON YOUR TIGERCAT ACCOUNT or send it to yourself– we’ll want to access it in workshop tonight. Bring four copies as well.

Thursday, February 14

Where We Reside: Our Language, Our Reach

Assignment Due:


Find, and on your blog and on the Motherblog’s lefthand sidebar, link to a website filled with compelling writing. Choose and link to one story you particularly like.

Look through Alan Levine’s 50 Web Ways to Tell a Story, exploring the different outcomes possible depending on tool selection.

Cruise the Digital Storytelling Center’s Site, trying to learn as much as possible about the shape, the content and purpose of digital stories. Be prepared to talk about your relationship with technology, with watching and reading stories on the Web.


1. Respond to your group’s letters by leaving a comment on their blogs. Go ahead and jump onto the Motherblog’s center page if you have something to offer or to ask us.

2. Start messing around, playing with the stuff of your life–what you have seen and experienced and thought–what stirs here? Start gathering material for your own digital story. Surprise yourself by considering stories that rest beneath the surface of your skin. Think about what kind of writer you are–do you live in your eyes, your ears, your mouth, your body? The more you commit to a writing practice this semester, writing every day and exploring the full reach of yourself as writer, circling back when you find promising bits that continue to call to you, the richer this course experience will be for you.

3. 5 Photos: make each one represent a different abstraction or emotion (for example, you could take one shot of a teapot that suggests comfort and another of the same teapot that suggests fear). Consult Pomona’s Visual Literacy Website for theoretical underpinnings of working in images. Post your images to Flickr and then to your blog. Those without cameras can check one out at the Circ. desk at the library for a couple of hours at a time.

4. 5 5-minute mini-narratives of moments from memory that lead you to writing about your own experience as an act of communication rather than a private musing, according to the following rules: one must be about a specific place, one about a person, one about a time when you were alone, one about a moment when you understood something about the world beyond you, one involving several people. Spend some time exploring the rich landscape of memory (you can use exercises from class to help you unlock story potential); once you have selected the five memories, write quickly, spending five minutes but no more on each one, trying to sketch the moment, the people, the place, the sensations, the deeper meaning. Remember that you are writing narrative here. Post.

Tuesday, February 19

Scripting the Digital Story/Hypertext

Assignment Due:

Reading: 1. bg’s “Into the Storm”

Hypertext stories–Shelley Jackson’s “My Body” and Tim’s “Descent”

Audio/Image Experiments: Alex’s “Ger” and Cloe’s “Let Me Tell You Mama”

2. Small-group assignment–

View & think about your group’s assigned digital stories and prepare to present them to the class. ** Presentations will actually take place on Wednesday evening**

Group One

Group Two

Group Three


The Impact of Voice: Choose one of your five mini-narratives and record yourself reading it. Upload to your blog. Consult the page on podcasts if you need help with recording. (It’s fine to use an iPod with iTalk, or to check out a mic at the circ. desk, or even to use the built-in mic on your laptop. I’ll plan to arrive at class by 10:30 to help anyone having difficulty uploading the file.

** Also, the easiest way to get you audio file onto your blog is to upload it to archive.org–you will need to join–and then link to it from there or create a player as described here.

Thinking about Multimedia Narrative: Take your mini-narratives from last week and play around with moments inside them that lend themselves to visual and auditory and text intersections/tensions. In addition to discovering ways in which multimedia forms open new narrative avenues and meanings, think about how isolating and intensifying an image, how drawing out or speeding up of time, and how drawing closer or distancing the narrative voice have an impact on the story.

Start to plan out a short multimedia version of one of these stories: either a one-sentence hypertext story, an image/text story, an audio/image/text digital story. We’ll use simple online storytelling tools and/or iMOVIE or Moviemaker.

Wednesday, February 20

Workshop #2: Tools Workshop

Bring to workshop 4 copies of your plan for the story. Bring images/audio etc. you think you’ll be using in your story.

Thursday, February 21
Story Shape

Assignment Due:

1. Personal Universe Deck (Adapted from Behn & Chase, The Practice of Poetry) Hand-out

2. Work on your digital/hypertext story.

Tuesday, February 28


Assignment Due:

1. Digital Story–ongoing.


3. Take a look at metaspencer’s Found Fridays (he’s a prof at University of Illinois). Bring in a piece of “found” writing.

Wednesday, February 29

Workshop #3 Bring nearly finished stories.

Thursday, March 1

Transition to Creative Nonfiction

Assignment Due:

Reading: D’Agata pp. 7-25: Lopez: “The Raven,” McPhee: “The Search for Marvin Gardens”

In Short: Preface, p.17; Nye p.94; Rodriguez, p.138; O’Brien, p.60 (Hand-out)

Oates: Thoreau and Woolf: pp. 250-263

Writing: Digital Story, Finished, Posted with a Reflection on the process, the genre, the unit, by Friday, March 2, 5 p.m.
* Image of bg’s greatgrandfather holding her grandfather. Photographer unknown.

3 Responses

  1. Tsk tsk. Image citation, mmm? (the link is dead)

  2. The photo is of my great grandfather holding my grandfather in 1905. Photographer unknown.

  3. Coooool. I fixed the link to my digital story (http://www.archive.org/details/alexdigitalstory). There, you can stream it in their flash player (faster) or play the high quality version: http://ia300224.us.archive.org/1/items/alexdigitalstory/AlexDigitalStory_H264LAN.mov

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