How do we cultivate a disciplined sense of wonder?
We invest a lot of personal energy in certainty—being certain of what we know, of how we feel, of what we think, and, of course, of what others think of us. Heschel’s quote suggests that there are many ways to enter into not knowing, to be surprised anew, to experience wonder and amazement. In order to challenge conventional notions productively we might need to cultivate a healthy maladjustment. But, it’s difficult to subvert the dominant paradigm.
How might we as writers and media artists use poetry and video essay to intensify our awareness of everyday experience, to explore our experience, and to express our findings artfully while keeping an audience in mind?
The purpose of this program is to heighten our curiosity and to foster the possibility for amazement in the everyday by developing interrogative strategies rooted in the creative practices of writing poetry and personal essays, and of crafting video essays.
The program will include creative writing intensives in poetry and creative nonfiction as well as a series of electronic media workshops in which students will gain basic competencies in alternative audio/visual scriptwriting, audio recording and editing, photography, and multimedia editing. Lectures, screenings, and guest writers and artists will address or engage formal, historical, and conceptual concerns in poetry, creative nonfiction literature, film and video essay, and will relate to issues of dominant paradigms, heresy, imagination, reflexivity, the everyday, representations of the self and other, auteur theory, and collaboration. Through weekly seminar papers and discussions students will reflect in more depth on the program’s themes, issues, activities, and texts.
A rigorous collaborative midterm electronic media project will require students to interrogate everyday experience in a shared way while negotiating issues of authorship, voice, collectivism, project management, and accountability. Students will exercise creative writing skills and electronic media competencies in this comprehensive midterm assignment, blending their literary works with audio and images in video essays that are crafted collaboratively.
Finally, each student will individually craft a video essay that demonstrates a disciplined sense of wonder by drawing on the program’s creative practices and that takes up our thematic concern with radical amazement. The quarter will conclude with student presentations of final projects.