I think that I've mentioned a number of times that when we've met face to face, I always encourage students to image what they would write in the genre that we are reading any particular week. We've done this a number of times in class to greater and lesser success, but I want to try again.
What story would you tell for a YA audience? No particular word count. Have fun with whatever ideas you have. You can write in any genre, but it's for a YA audience.
Using your reading of Pepper's Guide, try to explain what makes a text both young and adult at the same time? Further, what makes it "literature." Can you connect elements of theme, plot, and character to your own reading experiences in young adult lit?
In roughly 300 words, respond to the two questions above. No need to respond to your colleagues.
I want to circle back to our reading of Interior Chinatown. That's a text we talked about as literary fiction, and I know that folks struggled with this idea of what literary fiction was at the time. So this week we are reading an example of something that explicitly calls itself genre fiction. And yet, I don't know that we can sort of explicitly say that this is not literary fiction.
This is the author's first "adult novel"--rather than YA, which is what he is known as. I think you can see a lot of YA influences in the text. This novel has gotten a lot of great reviews, which is one of the ways that a text makes that leap from genre fiction to literary fiction--fake as that seems.
So our prompt for today is a simple one: in what ways does this text seem to adhere to genre conventions? And what are those conventions and where do you see them in this novel? On the other hand, in what ways does this feel like literary fiction--I know, I know, you aren't sure what that means, but I think you have a better idea than you did--so what might you say could make this feel like literary fiction?
Post 300 words in response to the prompt. Respond to at least one of your colleagues--try not to say "oh yeah I totally agree."
OVERVIEW: I think it's been a long while since people wrote off graphic novels as just comics for kids, but it made news in the literary world when the graphic novel Sabrina was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2019. That was the graphic novel selection for 489 that year. You can read a synopsis of the novel here. You can read a review of the novel here.
One of the critical elements of the novel that many readers commented on was the way the images conveyed the bleak isolation that the various characters felt in Sabrina. And, of course, that is what makes the graphic novel unique as a genre: the role the visual plays in telling the story.
PROMPT: For today's ICRN, in roughly 300 words, discuss 1) what is the impact and role of the images in Paying the Land; 2) What would be lost or gained if this were a "traditional" novel; and 3) what challenges or joys does the graphic novel present to the reader? In your reply to these three questions, please don't generically talk about graphic novels generally. Please speak specifically about this text, Paying The Land, in ways that makes me know that you've read and thought about this particular text.
OVERVIEW: If last week what we looked at the "creative" side of creative nonfiction, this week's focus is on the "nonfiction" side. Albert Woodfox's story is an autobiography. It spans his entire life and, with the help of a co-author, is written from his perspective and in his voice (The Autobiography of Malcom X was co-authored by Alex Haley, author, most notably, of the book Roots).
There is an idea in Rhetoric called "kairos" which essentially is Greek for "time". In Rhetoric, it refers to what I call appropriateness. It's the right thing to say for a particular occasion--the right content, tone, voice for the particular historical moment. Sometimes the easiest way to see that something is not in harmony with the moment is when it goes horribly wrong--of course, the perspective of the audience plays a significant role in in determining this. Different audiences will view different rhetorical moments in different ways. That's the relationship between audiences, "texts," and speaker/authors.
PROMPT: In some ways, Woodfox's story, does not feel entirely new. I'm asking you to consider Solitary through a kairotic lens: consider the historical moment of this autobiography, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize last year. Why is this story important to tell? In what ways does it feel new, add to our understanding of race and racism in our country? How does it affect you as a reader? Can you imagine a different reaction?
BONUS QUESTION; What does it take to write this autobiography? I'm not asking for, like, courage and mental stamina or a typewriter. I'm talking about the kind of research that goes into a book like this--because even though it is his story, there is quite a bit of archival material in the piece. What does a writer do with the people named in the piece, particularly the people at Angola responsible for much of what Woodfox endured during his time at the prison--or some of his lawyers? How does Woodfox manage himself as a character? These are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself when you are writing stories where you are the focus, but not the only character, in a long and complex plot.
Please post roughly 300 words in response to the prompt; read and respond to your classmates as you see fit. Connect what they say to your experiences reading the text and/or your reaction to their observations about how the text was constructed.