Grackle artwork by John James Audubon
In her text of nonfiction and theory, No Archive Will Restore You, Julietta Singh says “I am fully invested in the conviction that our bodies and minds are less discrete than we have been led to believe. Bodies and minds: I confess, I have already lost the difference between them.” When we write Creative Nonfiction (CNF), it is not only an act of brain-based creation, so to speak, it is also an extension of ourselves. Language can be felt, digested, and experienced. Furthermore, we are writing ourselves into being, and very often this includes writing about our own physical bodies.
While Singh interrogates how narratives affect her somatically, this class will focus on how we write about and through our bodies. Consider Morrison’s embodiment of trauma in Beloved, for example. This class explores how embodiment intersects with identity in its many forms: race, ability, gender, and sexuality, also investigating what it means to live in a body and how writers represent the body’s pleasures, pains, absurdities, and contradictions.
We will read contemporary creative nonfiction and hybrid works about diverse forms of embodiment by authors such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Carmen Giménez, Roxane Gay, Kiese Laymon, Jia Tolentino, Maggie Nelson, Hannah Gadsby, Molly McCully Brown and Susannah Nevison, Melissa Febos, Ocean Vuong, and Claudia Rankine. From there, we will write! Writing time will be offered every class from which, ideally, an essay will emerge. We will also share our writing during class, so be ready to get a little vulnerable. Addiitonally, in the final weeks of class we will workshop your own creative nonfiction essays.
Adele Elise Williams is a writer, editor and educator. She is a PhD candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at The University of Houston where she serves as Nonfiction Editor for Gulf Coast. Adele is a finalist for The Georgia Review’s 2022 Lorraine Williams Poetry Prize and the winner of the Emily Morrison Poetry Prize and Inprint Donald Barthelme Prize for Poetry as well as the recipient of fellowships from UCROSS, Inprint, and Hindman Settlement School. With poet Dana Levin she is editing a collection of Bert Meyers’s poetry for the Unsung Master Series which will be published in Spring 2023. Adele’s work can be found or is forthcoming in The Georgia Review, Crazyhorse, Guernica, Cream City Review, The Florida Review, The Adroit Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Her current goings-on can be found at adeleelisewilliams.com.