English CAC. Writing the Now: The Art of Closeness: Workshop

Instructor: Laura van den Berg
Day & Time: Thursday 12-2:45pm 
Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.
Course Website
In Lost Children Archive, Valeria Luiselli writes: “I suppose that documenting things—through the lens of a camera, on paper, or with a sound recording device—is really only a way of contributing one more layer, something like soot, to all the things already sedimented in a collective understanding of the world.” This class will focus on the art of documenting the “now” through prose and how such documentation can work to contribute another layer to the collective understanding. Together we will explore the art of writing from a space of “closeness,” or rendering events/moments in time on the page as they unfold around us. How can closeness deepen intensity and insight? What value can we locate in writing from a place of ongoingness as opposed to in pursuit of resolution? What specific difficulties and questions can closeness introduce?

In support of this exploration, we will study published prose works that take the shape of diaries; self-portraits; drifts; hybrids of fiction and reportage. The reading list will include work from Ross Gay, Kate Zambreno, Valeria Luiselli, Zadie Smith, and Yuko Tsushima. Students will also undertake exercises designed to encourage experiments with form, perspective, time, observation, and genre (we’ll be reading fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid forms, and students will be invited to write in any or all of those genres). Later in the term, your own stories will serve as the primary text as the focus shifts to workshop and revision.  

Supplemental Application Information: Please submit 3-5 pages of prose (fiction or nonfiction) and a cover letter. In the cover letter, please describe why you want to study creative writing at this time in your life. Otherwise you are welcome to share whatever information about yourself and your interests that you feel is relevant.  

Applications due by 11:59 PM ET on 8/19. Apply via Submittable