Writing for Your Life
Fall 2018 quarter
Lively writing: that’s our measure of student success this quarter. Writing is a sure antidote to the deadeningness of our hyper-busyness, to our device-mediated alienation, to anxiety (both the more or less well-grounded sort and the free-floating varieties), and to other social and psychological snares of our times. Our touchstone for this work is a group of four writers, all “Catholic writers,” from the middle decades of the 20th century: Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Thomas Merton, and Dorothy Day. They wrote their ways through the Great Depression, WWII, racial segregation and the struggles for civil rights, assassinations of major political leaders, wars and other violences large and small, as well as through personal troubles, diseases, and doubts, but in their own ways they all kept their spirits alive. Starting with the four-person collective biography, The Life You Save May Be Your Own by Paul Elie, we’ll follow these folks to see where they might point us in our times. We’ll read many kinds of writing from our four principals and from their friends and contemporaries: James Baldwin, Simone Weil, Albert Camus, Robert Coles, the Dalai Lama, Malcom X, D. T. Suzuki, Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, Thich Nhat Hanh, Leonard Cohen, Alice Walker, who also kept their spirits alive.
In addition to our common readings, every student will pursue an independent study of an author or a theme of their choice. Students should anticipate devoting 10 hours each week to their independent work. Jointly authored projects are welcome.
We’ll write a lot. We’ll learn how to know when we’re writing well. We’ll support one another in and through our writing. Students will learn to edit others’ work. Students will participate in peer group meetings each week so that everyone, regardless of class level, gets what they need. It could be an enlivening time.
Students will pursue an independent study of a particular author or a theme. Students will devote 10 hours per week to this work. They may work in groups and submit joint projects.
Location and Schedule