An Ethics of Generosity: Community In and Through Creative Writing, 2D Design and Visual and Literary Theory

Fall 2016 quarter

Taught by

Lynarra Featherly
creative writing, philosophy, critical theory
3D studio art
  • UG

In this program in experimental creative writing, two-dimensional design and visual and literary theory, we will work to look past the commodity function of art toward more social, political, and utopian possibilities.  In doing so, we will emphasize the importance of the gifting traditions that weave together individuals and communities in Northwest Indigenous nations, as well as the push for new languages and alternative routes for circulation in and among poetic communities. Along the way, we will engage in artistic research, drawing and digital design, as well as pursue experiments in constraint-based writing, close reading, and academic essay writing.

Through two-dimensional drawing and design we will explore and research the historical and contemporary perspectives of traditional and innovative Indigenous artists from the Pacific Northwest regions.  We will address diverse visual languages, design strategies, pattern recognition, and regional traditions. Working only on paper, students will learn to create unique images and illustrations that are guided by the principles and elements of design. Students will create a conceptual body of work that will interact with their creative writing practice.

In our creative writing practice, we will explore how collecting, shaping and re-shaping found language might bring the surprise of self-recognition, strike a familiar chord in an unfamiliar way. We will ask how working within the constraints of found or overheard textual material might disrupt our senses of self and offer new ways of accessing one another and our shared symbolic order. In an attempt to produce creative work differently, our creative writing will take up experimental procedures, e.g., using source texts as material to manipulate, distort, transform and otherwise “translate” language using combinatorial play, de-structuring and re-structuring.  Students will spend the quarter working on a series of creative writing pieces that will be brought together, edited and self-published as individual “chapbooks” in our end-of-the-quarter final creative writing projects.

We invite students to take up these practices in the spirit of collaboration and art-making beyond the acquisition of skills.  We will situate our practices in relation to the dominant art canon and contemporary world(s) of art.  We will also work to develop different forms of literacies, including poetic, visual, cultural and political.

In art history and practice, we will read from texts such as S'abadeb the Gifts: Pacific Coast Salish Art and Artists , Contemporary Coast Salish Art , and The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative.  Our literary and poetic interlocutors will likely include recent and contemporary critical theorists, poets, and philosophers such as Derrida, Barthes, Blanchot, Sianne Ngai, Lyn Hejinian, Kwame Anthony Appiah, as well as Freud, Kristeva, and others.

This program will be repeated in winter and spring quarters. Students who take this program in fall should not register for the winter or spring quarter repeat.

Program Details

Fields of Study

aesthetics art history cultural studies literature visual arts writing

Preparatory For

psychology, writing, counseling, humanities, social work, human services, visual arts, graphic design, and education.


Fall Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Monday, September 26th at 1pm (Sem II A1107)

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


$60 for museum entrance fees and a drawing kit.


2016-02-12New opportunity added.