Dialogic Forms: Interdisciplinary Literary Studies and Creative Writing

Spring Open
Class Standing
Miranda Mellis

   One cannot choose between faith and irony since both are real capacities. The rule in psychoanalysis is openness to the play of voices.


                                                                                                                                     – Michael Eigen, The Psychoanalytic Mystic

What is dialogue? What connects literary dialogue, of the kind we encounter in novels and philosophy, with free associative dialogue in the therapeutic dyad?  What about theatrical, poetic, journalistic, spiritual, internal, and political dialogues? These varying domains share dialogue as an art of relationship generative of luminous understanding and care, as well as uncertainty and wild misunderstandings, a source of humor and tragedy in art, and conflict and collaboration in politics.

The etymology of the word dialogue includes, from the Greek dia, the idea of movements across and between. Logos is expansive in its meanings including wordthought, and account. The linguistic roots of the word also make reference, in some languages, to agricultural acts, including collecting, harvesting, eating, and picking. In these definitions, dialogue connotes metabolic activity – language as an ecological sensorium, and meaning-making as a commons. The definition of the word conversation also evokes the body, and talk as dance: to con/verse is to turn together.

Our studies, then, include contemplative practices that allow us to develop our capacity for dialogue as a mode of embodied cognition through increasing our capacity for interoception: the ability to track internal experience somatically. To that end, among other studies in listening, we'll learn about the Deep Listening practice pioneered by composer Pauline Oliveros as well as compare how modes of listening are theorized and enacted differently, depending on the discipline and context, so that we can think about the place of interpretation in genres of dialogue.

In seminar we will read, watch, and listen to forms of literary, philosophical, journalistic, and psychoanalytic dialogue on the premise that each of these forms has something to teach us about the other. Weekly seminars on dialogic forms, and a weekly creative writing workshop with a focus on crafting dialogue will, together, enable us to study instances of dialogue in fictional, rhetorical, therapeutic, contemplative, and analytic modes as well as to practice it, as an art. The program will participate in Evergreen's weekly Art Lecture Series where we will learn from the ways in which contemporary artists and writers use their medium to dialogue with a range of publics. The program includes, as a culminating project, a workshop in Poet's Theater, in which students will try their hands at writing, directing, and/or performing original experimental plays.

This program is a supportive learning community for writers in any medium to develop their ability to write dialogue, and think critically and creatively about questions of address and interaction. It is also suitable for students who are interested in dialogue in relation to studies in psychology, politics, philosophy, communication, social work, and/or spiritual care. 


Anticipated Credit Equivalences:

8 - Creative Writing

8 - Dialogic Forms: Interdisciplinary Literary Studies 


Academic Details

Communication, Writing, the Humanities



Hybrid (S)

See definition of Hybrid, Remote, and In-Person instruction

Schedule Details