Sunday, November 11, 2012

Teaching Storytelling

I've been so lucky to teach a lit class this semester, the Short Story. I decided to focus on storytelling in not only short stories but also visual art and film. We've been looking at work by Kara Walker,

Ann Hamilton, Carrie Mae Weems, and using the online collaborative space for students to contribute their writing or art work. We'll sometimes do a fiction exercise in class as a warm-up or response, and students have posted stories to their blogs. I'm always stunned at the work students can create in class in just 10 minutes or so, and I hooooope that at least a few of them keep writing these sorts of pieces now and then, or springboard off of what they've started in class.

My favorite unit this semester was our "Roaring 20's" time, in which we looked at the work of Dali, Picasso, and Matisse, watched Josephine Baker dance, listened to Cole Porter's music,

read Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and both Fitzgeralds. And then -- grand finale! -- we watched "Midnight in Paris." Some students had already seen it and were happy to find that they "got all the jokes" this time around. I loved seeing Stein and Hemingway and Picasso et al. brought to life, and I hope the students had some fun with it, too.

Now, we're onto contemporary short story collections and have had the joy of reading Jody Lisberger's stories, Remember Love, and then visiting with her in class. Then, David McGlynn's stories, The End of the Straight and Narrow, and he Skyped in with us. The technology wasn't perfect -- but it was a lot of fun to have him in class from Wisconsin.

Next up -- Tiphanie Yanique's How to Escape from a Leper Colony, one of my favorite collections. Hoorah!