WGSS 399 / AFAM 330
Professor Roxane Gay (WGSS)
Associate in Teaching Cera Smith (WGSS, AFAM, ENGL)
Monday, 6:00–9:00 PM
Limited pre-enrollment, by application.
Preference given to undergraduate WGSS and AFAM majors.
Trauma is widely explored in contemporary writing but all too often, writers are careless in how they depict trauma. In such depictions, trauma serves as pornography—a way of titillating the reader, a lazy way of creating narrative tension. We see trauma as it unfolds but are rarely given a broader understanding of that trauma or its aftermath.
In this course, we will explore what it means to write trauma ethically in fiction and creative nonfiction. We will read texts that explore trauma in some form or fashion and also produce writing that explores trauma. Over the course of the semester, we will try to answer several questions by engaging in the practice of writing trauma. How do we convey the realities of trauma and its aftermath without being exploitative? How do we write trauma without traumatizing the reader? How do we write trauma without re-traumatizing ourselves when we write from personal experience? How do we write trauma without cannibalizing ourselves or the experiences of others? How do we tell stories of trauma without allowing the trauma to become the whole of our narratives? Finally, what does it mean to write trauma?
Applications close at 5:00 PM, Monday, December 17. Applicants will be notified of decisions by 5:00 PM, Monday, January 7.
About the instructor
Visiting Associate Professor, Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies