Blog Assignment for Tuesday, 11/12

Take your proposal for the Proposal/Annotated Bibliography assignment due this past week and convert it into a conference proposal. This shouldn’t take you longer than 30 minutes, but post it to your blog with a link to the conference that you could submit it to.

Need ideas for appropriate conferences to submit to? Try any of these…

Virginia Humanities Conference, JMU, March 27-28th
NCTE/College Composition Conference, March 25-28
William and Mary Graduate Research Symposium,
March 20-21
Popular Culture / American Culture Association, Philadelphia, April 15-18

Blog response to “Nanette” and “I Have Cancer”

Katherine Murray in her article in PopMatters (posted on Canvas) argues that, “Gadsby’s position, which she explains eloquently in the special, is that, as long as we avoid telling the parts of our stories that are painful to us — the parts that we can’t roll into a punchline; the parts that we can’t pretend to be objective and unfeeling about; the parts that we can’t say without tears coming to our eyes; the parts that make people uncomfortable to hear — we’ll be trapped in purgatory with them forever, and the world won’t have to change.”

Connect Murray’s statement with one of the categories applied to memoir/life writing by Smith and Watson, and explain how the live, oral, comic form of Notaro and Gadsby operates in similar or different ways to more traditional print memoir form. Blog post due: Tuesday, 10/29 by 5pm.

Tig Notaro and comedy as memoir questions

As you listen to Tig Notaro’s comedy set “Hello. I have Cancer.” Consider the following questions.

1.) What makes this comedy set qualify as “memoir”? Which category of Smith and Watson’s memoir approaches do you find more applicable and why? (Review your options in Smith and Watson).

2.) How does spoken word storytelling differ from pint or graphic memoir in terms of audience engagement? in terms of imagery? in terms of its use of memory to craft a public “self”?

Want to read more or situate this performance memoir more critically? Consider reading this New Yorker article on what was revolutionary in this comic set. We’ll continue to talk about performance form the next 2 weeks as well.

MU Commons Blog Site: Midterm Peer Review

Pair up and read a classmate’s blog with the questions below in mind. Then TALK them through your feedback on the questions below (feel free to take notes as you read their blog).

Finally, offer feedback in the form of a written response either posted to their ‘s blog, or if their site doesn’t accept comments, send them a message through Canvas and copy me with the answers to the following questions. You MUST complete your written response in class:

1. Where (in what entry) do you most see their personality on the site? Where is the author’s writing voice strongest and why?

2. Name specific reading entries that could be supported with quotes from the memoirs themselves, and/or from Smith and Watson. Which reading entries seem strongest and why? Cut and paste at least 2-3 strong quoted observations from their blog in your response. Which entries seem weakest and what could they add to make them stronger (or to exist, if missing)?

3. Given an hour to revise this blog, where would you most suggest the author focus on revision?

Choose a writing prompt from Appendix B

For your October 1st posting, choose any prompt from Smith and Watson’s Appendix B. If possible, choose an approach that asks you to apply yourself as a life writer–make a comic page of your own life; analyze your own Instagram account, etc. Include reflection on how your choices of form or subject reflect your own identity as a writer, and where you might categorize yourself in Smith and Watson’s various paradigms of life writing. Due Tuesday, October 1st by 5pm.

Blog post ideas for 9/24

Below are some ideas for your two blog postings next Tuesday–one on internships & one on theory and memoir.

Take the PPT slide from this week labeled “questions to consider” from Smith and Watson, and consider any of the questions below relative to this week or last week’s readings (or a combination thereof):

  • Audience: how does the text instruct you how to read it? Prefatory material? (Peritext, pretext?) How does the duration of writing unfold relative to duration of action?
  • How is the “I” at the center of the text formed? How does it establish itself as “authentic”?
  • How does the narrative interact with its historical moment?
  • At what point does the body attached to the “I” start to emerge? How?
  • What’s the end? What type of closure is achieved, and is it suspect?
  • Are there other voices or “I’s” within the narrative? Does the narrative raise questions of ethical writing/readership?
  • How does it structure memory? Through “firsts”? Trigger moments? Chronology?
  • Does the narrative exist in multiple media? How does this affect the voice? The story? Is story ever closed in contemporary digital re-tellings and epitexts?
    Internships: Review the article handed out in class on “Finding the Right Internship” as well as the PPT slide from today’s class on internships, and then find a potential internship or next job posting that interests you. Post a brief response considering some of the following questions:
    How, based on your resume, are you qualified for this position in some ways already? What other qualifications, skills, or experiences might help you land this position, were you to apply? (And do you have ideas for where on campus or in the community you could get these skills in the next 6-9 months?)

Spirituality, Revelation, and Rhetorical Strategy in Genres of Life Writing

Taking one of the authors we have read so far, ponder how they construct a sense of authorial “self” relative to an intended audience, using specific rhetorical strategies and metaphors of spirituality or revelation. Some ideas are below, but feel free to use your own. Due September 17th.

Invention of self in “Revelations,” “How it Feels to be Colored Me”, Turner’s “Confessions” or Once More We Saw Stars.
How do these authors use creative language, image, and metaphor to invent and reinvent themselves What rhetorical distancing mechanisms do they use to write about “self” as subject? What post-memoir subgenre would you assign these to? Choose a specific textual section in which to ground your analysis.

Lying & Rhetorical Strategies of Power: Susan Willis suggests that Hurston self-consciously employs language as a means of manipulating a white, middle-class reading audience. Locate specific moments in Hurston’s as “Colored Me” (or in other texts) that you feel employ rhetorical strategies like metaphor, pronoun use (I/you/we), or lying to manipulate the reader into identifying with the speaker in a certain way. Willis suggests that Hurston’s writing is a type of “trick” which she uses to trick and consume her audience –could the same be said of Turner? Why or why not?

Genres of Life Writing: Tie one or more of these narratives to Smith and Watson’s genres of life writing. Are we reading Testimonial or Witness? Postcolonial memoir? Genres of Breakdown and Recovery, or Grief? Test your interpretation of a specific moment of our reading out against a genre defined in Ch. 5 or Appendix A of Smith and Watson.

Nat Turner and Zora Neale Hurston

Choose one of the two following approaches, or compare/contrast these two life writing sample in another way that offers an analysis in terms of style, audience, or content. Aim for around 250-500 words in your MU Commons post, due by Tuesday, 9/10 or 9/17 at 5pm.

  1. As African Americans, Turner and Hurston are both marginalized in some ways, but they also portray themselves as exceptional in part because of their difference from the average or mainstream. Choose a moment from each that you think captures their distinct tones and analyze how these passages work to build a sense of an African American voice in literature.  Does the filter through which Turner’s voice pass interfere with your sense of an “authentic” voice?OR
  2. Both Turner and Hurston focus on moments of transformation that change their character or sense of who they are in relation to the world around them. Pick a moment of transformation in each text and describe the cultural and rhetorical work you see each author doing in the passage you chose.

Reading prompts: Julian of Norwich, “Revelations”

Consider either of the approaches below to your blog post on “Revelations of Divine Love,” or use your readings from Smith and Watson to help frame your discussion. Due Tuesday, 9/10 (can also post on Turner/Hurston if you prefer)

  1. As you read, consider what allows this text to exist–who gets to record early life experiences in English, and why? What images and metaphors does Julian use to express her spiritual experience and what areas of life does she tend to draw on for images of the spiritual world? Why do you think her narrative has remained popular for hundreds of years–what might appeal to a broad section of readers?


2. How does Julian of Norwich negotiate between her own experience and hierarchical Church authority? Locate specific passages in her work where there is conflict between her own experience and the Church. She has insights that are unconventional in comparison to traditional Church doctrine about sin, evil, and God’s “gender;” how does she frame these insights so as not to overtly challenge the Church?