Writing the Visual World


Art, like writing, is a form of storytelling. Yet while writers and artists set out with a purpose-a clear vision and intention-those motives may change or evolve throughout the creative process. In Bird by Bird, for instance, Anne Lamott likens the writing process to "watching a Polaroid develop." As a writer, she claims, "[y]ou can't-and, in fact, you're not supposed to-know exactly what the picture is going to look like until it has finished developing." It is only after "the portrait comes into focus, [that] you begin to notice all the props surrounding these people, and you begin to understand how props define us and comfort us, and show us what we value and what we need, and who we think we are." Likewise, in At Work, Annie Leibovitz recalls staging the portrait of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in "their apartment in the Dakota early in December" of 1980. Initially, Leibovitz had a clear vision and mission in mind; she conceived of the photo as a moment of stolen intimacy: "a simple kiss in a jaded time." But everything changed in an instant-in the blink of an eye. That night, Lennon was shot and killed while returning to the Dakota. In retrospect, recounts Leibovitz, the portrait "looks like a last kiss." This is a course about stories and storytelling. What stories do we tell and what stories are we told?? How does art (written, visual, and performative) enable us to share our experiences-to bring purpose and meaning to our lives and to the lives of others? Throughout this course, we will explore these (and other) questions by drawing from a broad range of discourse communities, including (but not limited to) art history, sociology, psychology, film studies, and cultural studies. We will read, write, and share (both instructor and students) expository prose (personal, persuasive, and interpretative) to consider our perception of and place within the visual world. This course does not count toward the Creative Writing Concentration.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM; FA CPSC