The Queer Possibility in Writing 4-Week Zoom Workshop, Starts Sunday, August 13th, 2023
Begins Sunday, August 13th, 2023
Class will meet on Sunday nights via Zoom, 1:00PM - 3:00PM EST
Open to All writers!
Any questions about this class? Use the Chat Button (lower left) to talk with us.
Led by Helen Armstrong, who has an MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University and was a 2022 Tin House Scholar. Her work has been published in Black Warrior Review, Jellyfish Review, X-R-A-Y, and others.
Learn more about Helen in our Meet the Teaching Artist series.
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick writes about queerness as an “open mesh of possibilities, gaps, overlaps, dissonances and resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning.”
In this class, we’ll spend time exploring these possibilities, digging into the gaps, peeling back the overlaps, and probing the dissonances that are available to us as queer writers, thinkers, and creatives.
We’ll do some close readings of excerpts from texts by queer writers and discuss queer theory and thought when it comes to broadening the creative process. While we’ll engage with other writers’ work, we’ll center our own practices through discussion, writing, and sharing.
Through intentional engagement with queerness as practice, lens, subject, and form, we’ll transform how we as a group and as individuals consider our own work as part of an ever-expanding queer canon.
- Week 1: Opening — Introductions, syllabus, agreements, goals, exploration of one’s own work and intentions, definitions
- Week 2: Truth — Share a true piece of work, queerness as truth or path, Garth Greenwell on queerness
- Week 3: Aesthetics — Discussion of camp as queer aesthetic, architectural aesthetics, and new languages
- Week 4: Archives — Correcting the archive, queer re-thinking/re-telling, and conceptualizing our own queer writing
- Students will read a variety of queer texts and will be introduced to some queer theory as well as general literary theory.
- Writing exercises will leave participants with new work in which they explore truth, aesthetics, prose architecture (a la Renee Gladman), and queer re-writing.
- The main focus of the course is to help participants think through what queerness means to them and what it can mean in writing; conversations surrounding this question come from multiple angles, and with texts and examples to lead our discussions.
SELECT COURSE TEXTS:
- Autobiography of Red - Anne Carson
- Notes on Camp - Susan Sontag.
- Videos shown in class will include Lil Nas X's Montero music video (re: discussion on camp), selections from Renee Gladman's Prose Architecture, and excerpts from a conversation between Garth Greenwell and Carolyn Dinshaw on Queer Theory/Queer Fiction.
- Optional texts would be Saidiya Hartman's Venus in Two Acts and Carmen Maria Machado's In the Dream House.
"I had the pleasure to take a 2-day workshop with Helen on The Queer Possibility in Writing. She was prepared and created an exciting syllabus including assigned readings that added great value to the workshop. Helen led the class in a way that encouraged individual exploration and created an open and respectful atmosphere for the diverse voices in the classroom. It was clear that Helen has confidence in her teaching and a grasp on what writers need. She is organized, communicative, and cares about her students beyond the end of the course. Helen’s passion for queering writing and diving into the myriad things that could mean is evident.
* Helen's flexibility and openness to new ideas of storytelling made this course not what I expected in a really good way
* Helen is extremely adept in crafting learning experiences in writing that are both practical and informative.
* Helen prioritized each writer’s liberty to write about what they wanted to and develop their own style. The open nature of her class allowed for the freedom desired in a fiction class. The workshops really helped improve my own writing as well as learn from my peers in a respectful and fruitful manner.
* Helen always knew the best ways to facilitate class discussions. She always made sure no one's hand went unnoticed, everyone's opinions were heard, and both sides of every argument were aired. Everyone sitting in that class seemed to feel comfortable speaking (which is very rare).
* Everyone was allowed to voice their own opinions; we engaged in practical debates/conversations about significant topics related to creative writing/writers’ experiences Did not necessarily steer the conversation - allowed us to take charge of the class, especially in terms of the conversations
* Everyone was welcomed to speak during open discussion regardless of how long or short their elaboration was. Everyone was allowed express their ideas and speak for as long as they desired. Helen was inclusive and made sure everyone was able to speak. Multiple perspectives were always accepted.
* Helen did a great job of making sure everyone had a chance to speak in class discussions, and was really great at remembering when students had something to say but weren't able to cut in, which was nice as a person who finds it difficult to speak in large discussions. Also, she showed her care and interest in our writing many times throughout the semester. It was great to receive personal feedback in a letter after our workshop and in comments after turning in our final portfolio. Also, the final class where we read our writing was an amazing experience and showed how invested Professor Armstrong was in our writing and creative visions. I also loved how she began every class with a discussion of everyone's highs and lows from the past week, which showed how much she cared about how we were doing as well as building a class community. Overall, Professor Armstrong was a lovely, kind, and approachable person who made this class feel very loving and supportive.
* She was incredibly receptive to people's comments and stories. If she ever corrected anyone (which was rare), she did so in a way that was respectful and kind. She also made very clear that the workshops were supposed to be constructive rather than critical, which was a good rule to set.
* I would recommend this class wholeheartedly. It has helped me grow greatly as a writer, and I really enjoyed all the work I completed over the course of the semester. I am so happy to have produced a portfolio of writing I am proud of, and to have found a wonderful and supportive community of writers on campus. It was not a very stressful class but still taught me so much. I wish I could take it over again!!
ONLINE COURSE STRUCTURE:
This class meets weekly via Zoom. Come prepared for a super fun class with live interaction on Zoom each week and plenty of writing, reading, and talking!
- Instructor: Helen Armstrong
- Starts Sunday, August 13th, 2023
- Class will meet on Sunday nights via Zoom, 1:00PM - 3:00PM EST
Instructor Helen Armstrong (she/her) was born and raised in Pennsylvania but now lives and writes at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. She has an MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University. She was a 2022 Tin House Scholar and her work has been published in Black Warrior Review, Jellyfish Review, X-R-A-Y, and others. She lives with her wife, two cats, and several dying houseplants.