What historical event, book, movie, TV show, physical landmark, specific place anchors your sense of self?: Creative Prompt #2 for JanTerm043 “The Art of Race”

Second creative writing prompt generated for the class yours truly is teaching, SMC Jan Term 043: “The Art of Race: (Re) Imagining Ethnicity, Race, and Identity in Literature, Art, & Pop Culture.” We’ve been exploring how race, ethnicity, identity, gender, and sexuality inspire and shape creative work, such as music, film & TV, literature, and art, and how the forms and elements of creative work can help redefine, reconstruct, interrogate, and re-imagine notions on race, gender, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. So far we’ve read poets Carlos Soto Román, Barbara Jane Reyes, Harryette Mullen, and listened to musicians such as Beyoncé and Gingee. Viewed art by Kara Walker, and watched shows such as black-ish, Orange is the New Black, Jane the Virgin, and Atlanta. We’re currently reading Diane Glancy’s, In-between Places  (University of Arizona Press, 2005), where she writes in her introduction:

Written language seems to me a landscape. Land bound in words. I pick up stones or rocks in travel as texts I can read.

There is a map you open like a book. There are books you open like a map.

There is a map you decide to call a book? A book of the territories you’ve traveled. A book of the in-between places you’ve lived. A map is a meaning you hold against the unknowing. The places you speak in many directions.

Image result for diane glancy in-between places

 

The below prompts are inspired by Glancy, Reyes, and Soto Roman. Have a try for yourself!

“The Art of Race” Creative Prompt #2

 for Different Literary Genres

 

Poetry:

What song/lyric/commercial/dialogue from TV or movie is stuck in your head? Look it up, so you can accurately quote, if you need to. How is this found text related to what you are feeling right now? How does it give insight or confuse or challenge your emotions or your thoughts? How is it related to something your mother/grandfather/brother/partner/friend/roommate once said or always says? Take one of the words and create a new line, phrase, or dialogue to spin it your own way.

 

Non-fiction:

What historical event, book, movie, TV show, physical landmark, specific place anchors your sense of self? Do some research on this anchor. What is its history? How did it come about? How does its story of evolution give insight into your (d)evolution? How did you first learn about this anchor? Who introduced it to you? When? Why? How do you feel about this anchor now? Does it root you or shackle you? How do you claim it as your own or how does it claim you?

 

Short Fiction:

Make a list of your fears and superstitions. Then add fears and superstitions that you know of from close friends or family. Close your eyes. Circle one of them. Whichever one you circled, have your main character confront that fear or superstition. Where are they? What are they feeling? What are they thinking? What physical sensations are they experiencing? Are they alone? Is anyone else there? If so, what are they doing? How are they helping or hindering? What do they say that worsens the situation? How does your main character fight back? How does fighting back make matters worse?

More to come on “The Art of Race”…

New Year, New Course to Teach: Jan Term 043-01: “The Art of Race: (Re)-Imagining Ethnicity and Identity in Literature, Art & Pop Culture”

 

After years and years and years of research, writing papers, presenting at conferences, not to mention living and breathing these topics in my every day life, for this January term 2018,  I will be teaching for twenty-six undergrads at Saint Mary’s College of California:

The Art of Race: (Re)-Imagining Ethnicity and Identity

in Literature, Art & Pop Culture

COURSE DESCRIPTION

How do writers and artists such as Junot Diaz, Louise Erdrich, Beyoncé, John Coltrane, Kara Walker, comedians like Key & Peele, and the creators of the show Broad City, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, subvert, de-center, and make new notions of race, identity, gender, and sexual orientation? How do they challenge cultural otherness to incite as writer Pankaj Mishra calls “a bolder cartography of the imagination”? In this class we will explore how writers, musicians, artists, and comedians make stylistic choices of form and content to challenge dominant narratives and put center stage traditionally marginalized voices, neglected histories, and sub-histories. The aim of this course is to discover how art can complicate and challenge some of our greatest public narratives: race and gender; and how these narratives serve as writer Kaitlyn Greenridge says as a “collective and imagined space that exists only as a metaphor, rhetorical argument, figurative language, in short, as a fiction, though that does not mean that [they are] not real.”

Reading from diverse authors and viewing other artistic forms, we will consider the many different ways art and pop culture help us understand and challenge identity and politics, and conversely how we can interrogate notions of identity and politics to create art that incites a world awareness.

REQUIRED TEXTS

  • Barbara Jane Reyes, Invocation to a Daughter
  • Junot Diaz, Drown 

READING LIST

  • Media Selections from Beyonce’s Lemonade and Key & Peele 
  • Art Selections from Kara Walker, Ramiro Gomez and Jennifer Wofford

Poetry and Essay Selections:

  • Carlos Soto Roman, selections
  • Harryette Mullen, The Cracks Between What We Are and What We Are Supposed to Be, “Imagining the Unimagined Reader: Writing to the Unborn and Including the Excluded”, “Kinky Quatrains: The Making of Muse & Drudge”, “Optic White: Blackness and the Production of Whiteness”
  • Kevin Young, The Gray Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, “The Shadow Book”, “How Not to Be a Slave: On the Black Art of Escape”
  • Dorothy Wang, Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry 
  • John Yau, “Please Wait By the Coatroom”
  • Diane Glancy,In-between Places, “July: She has some potholders”
  • Zadie Smith, “Brother from Another Mother”, The New Yorker, 2015.

We will be kicking off the semester with pre-assignments that include reading Robin DiAngelo and Özlem Sensoy, “Leaning In: A Student’s Guide to Engaging Constructively with Social Justice Content”, Radical Pedagogy, (2014) , Syreeta MacFadden’s  “Beyonce’s Formation reclaims America’s black America’s narrative from the margins” The Guardian, (February 8. 2016) and watching Beyonce’s “Formation” from Lemonade. Even more exciting is a class visit with poet and professor Barbara Jane Reyes to discuss her latest book from City Lights, Invocation to a Daughter. With luck, I’ll be able to confirm more guest speakers.

Some of the questions I have to start, with hopefully many more to come, so the research, the writing, the living, and breathing can grow:

  1. How does art, literature, and pop culture help student understand their own positionality?
  2. How does art, literature, and pop culture help students understand the collective and individual racial imaginary? Male/Female imaginary? Class imaginary?
  3. How do students navigate, transform, challenge collective (public) and private (individual) narratives?

I’m of two hearts and minds about the course, since I probably won’t get much writing done myself, but instead will be discussing topics that fuel me and drive me with purpose and heighten meaning, hopefully not just for myself but for the willing students. Let’s see what this new adventure holds. Ready. Steady. Go!