The Writer As Witness: Documentary Storytelling in Prose
Studio B, Brandan Odums
In this six-week writing workshop, we will consider what it means to be a “witness.” We will explore many questions including: What is the difference between documenting through story and using storytelling for transformation and change? How do we tell the stories of others with integrity and humility? What nonfiction forms will best allow us to tell particular stories? Using texts like Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others as guides for discourse, we will read a wide range of essays and other prose texts that employ narrative to respond to issues of inequality and injustice and to explore and amplify the work of people implementing positive change. In these intense times, we need the voices of writers who are keen observers and storytellers, people who are engaged with and thinking critically about the world around them. The course will include discussions of texts, in and out-of-class writing assignments, and workshopping of student work. Together, we write into and through the issues that matter most to us.
When: Six Mondays: September 11, 18, 25 & October 2, 9, 16; 6-8:30 p.m.
Lisa, the time I spent in your class was such a gift. You have such charm and wit, and an adeptness in the way you conjured writing out of me, by presenting thought-provoking short prompts or helping me see the possibility in connecting two unrelated ideas or types or sorts or breeds of things. In class, I admired your calm demeanor, the way you offered forth heartfelt respect for each student’s perspective, and gently guided the discussions in productive directions to enable us all to write more and better while learning from you and one another. I came away with places to start for new writing as well as more a fully-formed essay that would not be where it is without you having shepherded it along. A really wholehearted thank you. I hope to have the opportunity to learn from you again in the future.
I recently had the good fortune to work with Lisa in a six-week writing workshop, which I found to be a rewarding opening to a meaningful exploration of the things in the world that I want to be observing and documenting. Lisa’s approach combines an impressive understanding of the written word in its many forms, a gentle sense of humor, nurturing and open hearted facilitation, and a a deep reverence for the power of writing to connect us with our deeper selves. I hope to have the opportunity to with Lisa again as I continue to explore the role of writing in my life!
“The class, “Where I’m From,” was both fun and inspirational. Lisa selected readings in a wide variety of styles that enriched our own writing and discussion. Our class discussions were lively and recognized everyone in the group. I hope to take more classes with Lisa.”
“I highly recommend any class or workshop taught by Lisa. You can be assured her curriculum will be strong, her homework assignments challenging, and her writing prompts will jump start your creative juices. Best of all, is the warm and supportive atmosphere Lisa creates that allows everyone to always freely and safely express themselves. And isn’t that what a true artist is devoted to?”
“The environment that you created was so supportive, thoughtful, and challenging that I found myself growing in each class–as a reader, as a participant of the writing community that emerged, as a writer, and as a person. I left not only feeling that I had gotten great practice and feedback on my writing, but also that I was more able to affirm the relevance of the questions I am asking, which is a gift that has gone far beyond this class. The feedback you provided, the readings you assigned, and the way you facilitated the course made all of these things possible in ways that far exceeded any expectations I had.”
“I’m looking forward to taking another class with Lisa. Her teaching style is informed, enthusiastic and relaxed. The level of participation in discussion and completing assignments was one of the highest I’ve seen in a class. Lisa made it impossible to fail or feel slighted. She kept us excited about the content of the class. It was fun and productive. I think we were all pleased with the writing we produced – and how often can that be said about a class?”
—Student, anonymous evaluation
“This was a delightful class to attend and I can’t thank Lisa enough for the growth it encouraged in my writing, and in my appreciation of others. Lisa was an instructor who gave the class her full attention from the first class to the last. A great gift to her students.”