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Monday 4 January
Very Bad Paragraphs — Bullshit Homophobic Faith Edition

Filed under queers

From Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s profile of some hipster megachurch pastor that NYC-types and NBAers are into:

And here I have to say out loud how much I like Carl. I say it here because I still felt it after this conversation. I like him even though he is ideologically opposed to things that are important to me. I somehow could not fault Carl for his beliefs, because they torment him. I couldn’t fault him for them even though his influence is so vast and all it would take was a word from him to heal the suffering of so many people who feel like they’re without a tether. I could dislike Carl because in the end his belief is an organism outside reason. It’s Carl who will take my jokes about how Christianity seems to much easier than Judaism and follow them up with 200-word texts in which he tries to use this toehold to tell me his Good News. He is so worried for my soul, and this should annoy me, but instead it touches me, because maybe I’m worried about my soul, too, and Carl wants so badly for me to enjoy heaven with him. How can I fault someone who is so sincere about this one thing than I have ever been about anything in my life? But on the other hand, if there’s one thing that’s true about Christianity, it’s that no matter what couture it’s wearing, no matter what Selena Gomez hymnal it’s singing, it’s still afraid for your soul, it still thinks you’re in for a reckoning. It’s still Christianity. Christianity’s whole jam is remaining Christian.

The bullshit lies in B-A’s thinking, bolded above. That beliefs (in this Carl’s case: Jesus hates homosexuality and abortion, despite his obligation to love gays and women who control their own pregnancies) torment the believer, that the believer feels them sincerely are not reasons to excuse them. I trust that any number of Trump supporters are sincerely tormented by our president’s mixed race, and I will die faulting them for this wrong belief.

I’m glad for a lot of things after having done the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius last year, but foremost among them was meeting my spiritual director, a gay priest. When you come to know Jesus very well, it’s so easy to see not only that he loves gay people, but that sex between men is as holy and Godful as sex between straights. This assuredly rich straight pastor has made a choice to exclude gays from heaven, and that choice has come not from Jesus, but from his own learned hatred of gay people.

Any time a straight person claims to want to enjoy heaven with you, one thing is clear: they’re worried about themselves. Not you.

 ::  Discuss  ::  2016-01-04  ::  dave

Saturday 2 January
2015 Reading Roundup

Filed under Books

One feature of this blog is over there at the left: “What I’ve Been Reading”, a (lazily updated) spreadsheet of the books I finish. Those looking for more up-to-date info on my reading habits should befriend me on Goodreads. Turns out I read only 30 books in 2015, which is down 10 from 2014. But three of those were Knausgaards, so….

Here’s a statisticsy breakdown of those books, for people keeping track:

  • GENRE: 14 nonfiction, 11 fiction, 5 poetry
  • GENDER: 9 female, 21 male, 0 trans
  • ETHNICITY: 6 POC, 24 white
  • SEXUALITY: 3 queer, 27 straight

Not a great showing, but nor was 2015 a great year. Here’s to being better in 2016.

UPDATE: Since 2004, I’ve averaged 42.25 books read a year. This number will continue to go down as I get farther and farther away from gradschool.

 ::  Discuss  ::  2016-01-02  ::  dave

Wednesday 30 December
Taylor Negron, and LA vs NYC

Filed under Endorsements

hqdefaultFinally got around to reading the LA Review of Books’ eulogy on Taylor Negron, who I’ve been amazed by since his turn with Rich Hall in Better Off Dead (pictured, Negron’s on the right). And I came to the following paragraph:

But Taylor was always meant for fabulous things. He was a local boy who grew up, in his own words, “California Gothic.” His childhood house was in Echo Park, on grounds where the old Mack Sennett studio once stood, and there he watched black-and-white movies with his film-besotted grandmother. He came of age in Glendale during the Charlie Manson era, and he remembers seeing Joan Didion crying at the steering wheel of her green Jaguar “on Moorpark, below Ventura.” He used to say, “I remember when the palm trees were short and Tomorrowland was modern.” Taylor was made of Los Angeles — woven from palm fronds and eucalyptus, red carpet and call sheets. He connected old Hollywood to new Hollywood. He knew Mae West and the Olsen twins. He knew everyone, worked with everyone, and was loved by all.

Something thrilled inside me a bit while reading this (probably the datum on Didion) and I wished more than anything that I knew Taylor Negron. And then I realized that I’d like to know anyone who’s lived in Los Angeles as long as he did. And that’s when I realized I like Los Angeles better than New York, and one way I know this is that I’d much rather hang out with a longtime Angelino than a longtime New Yorker.

 ::  Discuss  ::  2015-12-30  ::  dave

Tuesday 29 December
Teaching Memoirs to Debut Memoirists

Filed under NF + teaching

debutmemoirYesterday I wrote a thing about how the debut memoir seems—in order to be a success—to require a rote approach to structure and form. That memoirs need to look like novels, with a reliance on scenes and a macrostructure that ends with its protagonist’s coming to ultimate terms with his or her conflict. This post picks up where that one left off, and I’m going to try to answer a question: What kinds of memoirs should I assign my students?

Position 1: I SHOULD ASSIGN J.R. ACKERLEY
You may recall that what I love about Ackerley is that his book is an original, and that it’s structured intrinsically (i.e., it Proustianly finds its own structure, it lets its unique voice lead the way). It’s a masterwork. It never once reads like a novel-that’s-true, and in this way it highlights the memoirness of a memoir—i.e., the things it does better than any other form.

So, then, I should teach it, right? We should all give our students the highest examples of the form. As guides. Except, my students pay $40,000+ for their MFA degrees, and given the stuff I blogged about yesterday I don’t trust that writing a memoir like Ackerley’s would help them land a book deal, with, maybe, an advance to help them pay off their loans.

Position 2: I SHOULD ASSIGN J.R. MOEHRINGER
It’s an artless hit, a poorly written success, but it does a great job of presenting students a way to take an experience they’re dying to write about—before many have ever written a book or, on the whole, read many old memoirs—in a way that can make it easily shared/absorbed by a wide variety of readers. This in itself isn’t an easy thing to do. Given that my students are risking so much and putting so much on the line to spend 2.5 years doing something they’ve long dreamed of doing, shouldn’t I help them spend this short amount of time learning the tools of how maybe to find commercial success?

Moehringer’s book feels good to the student memoirist the way workshop feedback does: it shines a torchlight on what’s always a dark and murky path. Or does it, again like feedback, build thick guiderails, steering students tightly through what should otherwise be a wild adventure?

Position 3: THE OBVIOUS ANSWER
I know, the answer was clear 8 paragraphs ago: teach both. Show the breadth of approaches students can choose between or orient themselves within the continuum of.

Which means that when it comes to building a diverse reading list we’ve got Formal Approach to add to our already lengthy criteria.

(I’m not complaining, just giving myself a reminder.)

 ::  Discuss  ::  2015-12-29  ::  dave

Monday 28 December
Opening Paragraphs, Debut Memoirs

Filed under NF

Here’s the opening paragraph of The Tender Bar, a debut memoir published in 2006 by a Pulitzer-prizewinning journalist that, according to my copy, every critic in America loved:

We went there for everything we needed. We went there when thirsty, of course, and when hungry, and when dead tired. We went there when happy, to celebrate, and when sad, to sulk. We went there after weddings and funerals, for something to settle our nerves, and always for a shot of courage just before. We went there when we didn’t know what we needed, hoping someone might tell us. We went there when looking for love, or sex, or trouble, or for someone who had gone missing, because sooner or later everyone turned up there. Most of all we went there when we needed to be found.

You can see where this comes from: parallel constructions and repetition as a quick way to set some prose rhythms. The sentence structures are easybreezy beautiful covergirl.

Here’s the opening paragraph (emphasis added) of My Father and Myself, a memoir published posthumously in 1968 by the estate of a longtime editor of a BBC literary magazine[1] that one of the Trillings called, in Harper’s, “The simplest, most directly personal report of what it is like to be a homosexual that, to my knowledge, has yet been published”:[2]

I was born in 1896 and my parents were married in 1919. Nearly a quarter of a century may seem rather procrastinatory for making up one’s mind, but I expect that the longer such rites are postponed the less indispensable they appear and that, as the years rolled by, my parents gradually forgot the anomaly of their situation. My Aunt Bunny, my mother’s younger sister, maintained that they would never have been married at all and I should still be a bastard like my dead brother if she had not intervened for the second time. Her first intervention was in the beginning. There was, of course, a good deal of agitation in her family then; apart from other considerations, irregular relationships were regarded with far greater condemnation in Victorian times than they are today. I can imagine the dismay of my maternal grandmother in particular, since she had had to contend with this very situation in her own life. For she herself was illegitimate. Failing to breed from his wife, her father, whose name was Scott, had turned instead to a Miss Buller, a girl of good parentage to be sure, claiming descent from two admirals, who bore him three daughters and died in giving the last one birth. I remember my grandmother as a very beautiful old lady, but she was said to have looked quite plain beside her sisters in childhood. However, there was to be no opportunity for later comparisons, for as soon as the latter were old enough to comprehend the shame of their existence they resolved to hide it forever from the world and took the veil in the convent at Clifton where all three had been put to school. But my grandmother was made of hardier stuff; she faced life and, in the course of time, buried the past by marrying a Mr Aylward, a musician of distinction who had been a Queen’s Scholar at the early age of fourteen and was now master and organist at Hawtrey’s Preparatory School for Eton at Slough. Long before my mother’s fall from grace, however, he had died, leaving my grandmother so poor that she was reduced to doing needlework for sale and taking to lodgers to support herself and her growing children. What could have been her feelings to hear the skeleton in her family cupboard, known then only to herself, rattle its bones as it moved over to make room for another?

You can’t see where this comes from, is the point I want to make in this post. You can’t broadcast where it’s going from the opening sentence. The sentences are controlled by the voice rather than the other way around. Apart from other considerations, for instance, note the mastery behind the passage I put in italics.

Here’s the thing: My Father and Myself is not J.R. Ackerley’s debut memoir (he published two while alive, neither of which were his literary debut). But The Tender Bar is J.R. Moehringer’s first book. His acknowledgements page rather gratuitously tells the story of how a literary agent bent over backward to give this Yale- and Harvard-grad the time and pond-view New England writing rooms necessary to write his story as a memoir.

And his memoir reeks of it.

The book is bad. It’s very badly written. I can show you passages where the sentences show such a lack of care (“To me, the unique thing about Uncle Charlie wasn’t the way he looked, but the way he talked, a crazy, jazzy fusion of SAT words and gangster slang that made him sound like a cross between an Oxford don and Mafia don”) or passages where the protagonist is riddled with anxieties about manhood I’m asked not just to sympathize with but even to accept as legitimate. But I don’t want to get into what makes Moehringer’s a lesser book than Ackerley’s.[3] I want to talk about one idea I had about why Moehringer’s book is a bestseller and Ackerley’s book you probably haven’t heard of.

(One quick reason aside: Ackerley writes about being gay and full of shame, and his gay sex never gets past first base.)[4]

Moehringer’s book is scene-y. The chapters are short and usually focused on one character. The book sets up its protag’s internal conflict early—no father figure!—and shapes the story of his life accordingly, such that this conflict gets resolved in the book’s final chapters. It’s the opposite of a life. It’s a story. Even if every line of dialogue is verifiably true, the memoir in its careful, by-the-book structuring is an orgy of lies.

Which, I’m thinking, is the only way it could’ve ever gotten published.

There’s probably evidence to the contrary, but whereas the NYC publishing world likes to see a dashing new voice, or a daring sense of form when it comes to the debut novel, debut memoirs are praised and well marketed when their stories are dashing and daring. Moehringer grew up 142 steps from a bar that was for its Long Island town what we Americans imagine Irish pubs are for their villages. He was, in a sense, raised by the characters who drank there every night. What’s not page-turnable about this?

Ackerley’s story, on the other hand, is confusing, which is broadcasted by its opening sentence. He has a very hard time figuring out his dad’s story, and after he’s figured it out, he’s still left with questions. The book swims forward and backward in time in order to work all this stuff out, and in doing so it’s rarely scene-y. It’s thinky. It’s also a masterpiece. I was stunned by the book. I thought, I’ll never be this smart to put such a book together.

And now I’m getting to what hurts the most about all this: I was this close to assigning The Tender Bar next spring. But then I realized that another NF class read it last year. And then I read it. When I was reading Ackerley, I thought, My god, I’d love to teach this book, but then I decided I couldn’t. That it would be irresponsible to. Here were my reasons:

  • It’s not structured in scenes.
  • It has its own intrinsic structure that’s hard to parse out, much less show students how to copy.
  • It wasn’t written in the last 10 years.
  • It’s about growing up gay.

That one hurts the most. I didn’t think it would be helpful for my students (only a few of which are gay) to read a memoir about growing up gay.

But they read The Tender Bar, which may as well be subtitled “A Heteronormative Memoir”. One chief reason the book is such a piece of garbage is because it sees the world as a place where boys raised without strong and present fathers will grow up damaged, which even if true the book decides the only way to avoid this damage is to grow up with straight male father figures.[5]

Try as I might not to make this long post about The Tender Bar‘s badness I keep going back to it. My point is this: memoirs after Karr are market-driven books, not artistic ones. Or, if that’s unfair, then my point is this: when it’s your debut, for your memoir to succeed it has to fit the mold. And after Karr, after MFA Programs’ decades-long instruction in James’s scenic method of narration (i.e., show don’t tell), that mold is scenes strung together toward a linear plot.

When memoirs start to look like novels they always turn out lesser. But they probably make a lot more money.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. I imagine this was like what Garrison Keillor’s become.
  2. As soon as I read this silly thing I lamented the impossibility of my ever receiving such praise now.
  3. One thing both J.R.s have in common is that they like, in the final sentence of each chapter, to broadcast the content of the next.
  4. BTW, gay first base is kissing naked and frotting to ejaculation.
  5. It’s in the book’s penultimate chapter that Moehringer realizes “Hey, maybe my strong mother was the strong figure I needed all along” without ever showing the effects this (completely fake, fabricated for the sake of memoir) epiphany has had on him.

 ::  Discuss  ::  2015-12-28  ::  dave

Tuesday 8 December
Outline for a Short Story I’m Not Writing

Filed under Obvious Things

Not right now, at least. But this one came from a student in my graduate fiction workshop, the first such class I’ve taught, which is ending tonight. The exercise or prompt involved taking an object—each of us wrote the name of an object on an index card, then these got distro’d at random—and … I think we had to either sketch the outline for a story or write a scene in which that object and got used, mentioned, or looked at in different ways.

Use The Object To Progress The Work was the gist of the exercise.

I didn’t bring any paper to class, so I had to use the index card itself. The object I got was “notebook”:

  • Slam notebook seen as object passing hands near lockers between two rivals of narrator.
  • Narrator in next class; passing mention of its designated notebook, places for notes taken, homework, etc.
  • Daydream/reverie of what narrator’s page in slam book might look like. Dark and mean. Reveals a sense of narrator’s self-regard and martyr fantasies.
  • Nicholas Sparks reference in dialogue at lunch.
  • Oh, and there’s a new car that narrator has driven to school that day that narrator is sad people aren’t noticing, the newness. Also, there’s a threat of its removal from Dad if bad driving record.
  • Narrator gets hands on slam notebook and finds the relevant page. Under name it says just “who?” or “Nobody.”
  • Scene of confrontation/violence or humiliation in class; public exposure for perhaps the first time.
  • Student drives home and misses a stop sign. Gets pulled over. Evocative use of cop’s notepad to issue an official ticket for narrator to then be codified criminally.

Do kids know what slam books are?

 ::  Discuss  ::  2015-12-08  ::  dave

Tuesday 24 November
Findings is a Dolphin

Filed under Announcements + NF

findingsWishing a happy pub day to Findings: An Illustrated Collection, which might be the perfect Xmas gift for anyone interested in facts, science, data, or earless rabbits born in Fukushima, Japan. It’s Amazon’s #1 New Release in “Scientific Experiments & Projects”!

The last page of every issue of Harper’s is dedicated to the Findings column, which compiles the month’s scientific findings into a brilliant and moving three-paragraph lyric of sorts. I’ve got an interview in the book with the current longtime writer of Findings, Rafil Kroll-Zaidi. In celebration of the book’s publication, the interview is up today at Tin House.

A lot of what I’ve learned about the creative use of facts and data in nonfiction comes from these two conversations I had with Rafil three years ago. He’s a guy who speaks in paragraphs. Someone should give him a tenure-track job.

 ::  Discuss  ::  2015-11-24  ::  dave

Monday 16 November
Dreams of a New Kind of Writer’s Conference

Filed under Obvious Things

Last week I said I didn’t get why writers decided on the academic conference model for their annual get-togethers. I mean, I get it: we’re writers in the academy. To be allowed into the Ivory Tower and be subsidized by it, we had to play by some rules. Is that it, really? I don’t buy that we need to be scholarly in our conferences—even though our travel costs are, on the whole, covered by universities. Or: I don’t buy that we need to be scholarly the way scholars are scholarly.

To that end, here’s a few ideas on how to make a writers’ conference not only more enjoyable, but a better place for the transmission of new ideas:

  • Ban the reading of written papers. I acknowledge I’ve got a low threshold for boredom, but I can’t be the only one perpetually bored by these. The thing with the paper is that despite its endgame (i.e., being read aloud to a group of quiet strangers) the aim of the paper (delivering new ideas about writing) doesn’t offer room for most people to make it listenable-to and engaging. It’s a written thing, and as writers we work to make it our own—when what it should be is everybody else’s. Ban the reading of written papers.
  • Ban the reading of PowerPoint slides. Just because you have visuals doesn’t negate the above.
  • Require any PowerPoint-style lectures to follow a PechaKucha format. Limit of 20 slides, each shown for just 20 seconds. That’s 6 mins 40 seconds for you to get new ideas across. It’s Twitter for conference presentations. Or, I don’t know, pick some other format—but provide restrictions, as Oulipan as they need to be, that writers will rise to the challenge of.
  • Early deadlines for panel materials. Often the panelists on a panel don’t all know each other (when they do, get up and leave the room). This can be made a productive thing. Get half of them to turn in to the conference their materials (notes, slides, etc.) one month prior to their timeslot. Then send these materials to the other half of the panelists, who in putting together their talks should in some way acknowledge and respond to the first half’s. In short: force a conversation to happen across the panel. (Bonus outcome: no first-draft papers that were written on the plane ride over.)
  • Strategize a few They-Said/They-Said panels. I say “strategize” because these can’t just go to anyone, but similar to the above, I’d much rather watch Writer A and Writer B size each other up at the dais on where they each stand on, say, place in nonfiction—with more of a two-way interview format going on than, of course, a debate—than I would Writer A talk, then Writer B, then Writer C, and then Writer D. A and B don’t need to disagree on anything, but each should have strong, new ideas and be curious about the other’s. Here’s a model in print of what I’m talking about, with Jennifer Egan and George Saunders talking about the future in fiction.
  • On- and offsite readings need to showcase unpublished work in progress. We can all get access to polished work through the books/journals they’re in, but what’s hard to get access to is an artist in the midst of a project—except, of course, when we convene each year. So let’s take advantage of that moment by getting exposure to, and then maybe talking about, the anxiety of being only partially done with something.
  • Accept only panels that have a diverse body of writers. I was talking about this with a friend at NonfictioNow. They blamed the whitewashed nature of the conference for its paucity of new ideas. And I thought: Wait, it’s not like the only new ideas are about race or gender. And then I realized: This wasn’t their point. It’s not that the only new ideas in writing, or the academy, anymore have to do with identity. It’s that a diverse environment stewards the airing and dissemination of new ideas. We conference in order to share new ideas. Put a bunch of different people in a room and you’ll end up with a dozen new ideas before lunch. Try it with people who share most things in common, and odds are those commonalities will get celebrated or reminisced about. Those are old ideas. They’re maybe even tired ideas. A writers’ conference shouldn’t be a family reunion, as much as we all annually miss each other.

I need to run to an appointment here, but that’s just a few off the top of my head. There are imaginative ways of doing anything. AWP is like the missionary position of conferences. Let’s all try to be sexier.

 ::  Discuss  ::  2015-11-16  ::  dave

Friday 13 November
Things I Picked Up from NonfictioNow 2015

Filed under NF

I went to this conference a couple weeks ago, and then had a visit from the goon squad (i.e. my parents). Only now getting to think about it. It’s a brief list. The biggest lesson I learned is that if you organize a panel where you come prepared with some new ideas, minimal slides to project so folks have something to look at, and a Q&A format that loosely lets panelists talk casually about their ideas and what interests them, strangers for days afterward will come up to you in hallways to thank you effusively for not making them sit still for 75 minutes listening to academics read short papers.

Other lessons, some of them dubious:

  • When it comes to the question of what’s not allowed in nonfiction, the only answers I can satisfactorily come up with are behavioral. Or attitudinal. You can’t patronize or talk down to the reader. You can’t think you’re smarter than the reader. You can’t be boring. Etc. When it comes to what you can say or how you can say it, everything is fair game.
    • I’m not, then, interested in conversations about what writers should or should not do in an essay, or how other writers grappled to justify their formal or semantic choices.
  • Every journey—be it a travelogue or a tour through memories—is a journey into the unknown. Otherwise it’s a commute.
  • In conversation with someone, Lawrence Weschler reportedly said, “The job of the writer is to remind the reader of something.” As though we’re all pieces of string around the finger.
  • Other than preparing you for a job in the professoriat, what a PhD in nonfiction is great at is narrowing the scope of your writing to someplace highly specified, and encouraging you to talk about that writing in academic terms, not aesthetic ones.
  • A misfire happened sometime in the 1980s (or whenever AWP first started), where writers—wanting, like at MLA, to meet and share their work and scholarly developments on the craft of writing—adopted the academic conference as their model for doing so. The 75-minute panel where 4 or 5 people read papers on new research (i.e., the academic conference) is a quick and easy way for academics to absorb that research. Academic papers in print would take hours to read aloud and are, by necessity, dull and full of citations—in comparison, a panel talk is a treat. An injection of new ideas. Writers, though, don’t publish their research on craft or aesthetics in academic journals (AWP’s Writers’ Chronicle being the notable and often-dull exception), but for whatever reason the default at a writers’ conference is to read pre-written papers.
    • I have a series of questions. Why, if we’re creative writers, are those papers so dull and hard to listen to? And why, if we’re writers of nonfiction, aren’t we better at writing this kind of nonfiction? Can’t it, also, be creative? And what, in the end, is it about the academy that it could lead hundreds of writers—i.e. creative types—to get so uncreative when it comes to the model it adopts for its (bi-)annual meetings?
  • I saw all of one mile of Flagstaff, Arizona, and feel qualified to say it’s a great town. Gorgeous and full of good people.
  • More on academics: the biggest nonfiction books this year, at least on my radar, were Coates’s Between the World and Me and Rankine’s Citizen. I don’t think I heard a single person mention these books in the three days of panels. I did hear Montaigne’s name mentioned several dozen times each day, though. “NonfictioNow 2015” proved a misnomer.
  • Georgia Review and Passages North are some pretty great places for essays. Now, let’s start a Kickstarter to help the latter become a thinner semiannual.
  • Rumors are the next conference will be in Reyjavik, which means attendance chiefly from tenured academics whose universities will subsidize that pricey trip, which given the state of the academy will probably translate to even less diversity than I saw this year.

Perhaps a name change is in order. NonfictionAgo-Go? NonFrictioNow?

 ::  Discuss  ::  2015-11-13  ::  dave

Tuesday 3 November
Very Good Paragraphs

Filed under Very Good Paragraphs

From Benedict Carey’s How We Learn, which is the best collection I’ve found of recent (and historical) findings in cognitive science that explain how our brains work and how we might treat them better as a result. This bit specifically is Very Good because of how it articulates a problem with beginning writers that I’ve noticed but never been able to characterize before:

When I was in high school or college, trying to write an essay or research paper, I was forever looking for someone else’s thinking to rely on. I would hunt for some article written by an expert that was as similar as possible to the assignment. This perfect “model” essay never existed, or I never found it, so I’d end up stringing together quotes and ideas from the articles and books I had looked through. If someone else said it, I figured it must be insightful. In my defense, this isn’t all bad. When looking into the emergence of Christianity in ancient Rome, we should know who the experts are and what they think. The problem is that, when we’re embarking on a research project—especially when we’re younger—we don’t necessarily know how to identify those intellectual landmarks. Often, we don’t even know they exist. Through high school and much of college, I remember longing for someone to tell me how to proceed, sinking into a passing, tentative frame of mind, a fear of embarrassment trumping any real curiosity or conviction. The result was that I rarely consulted the wisdom of the one thinker I had easy access to: myself. I was so busy looking for better, smarter opinions that I had trouble writing—or thinking—with any confidence.

The solution Carey gives comes from a teacher named, no shit, Ronda Leathers Dively. Instead of assigning 6 short papers, she assigned one long one, with 5 short response papers to 5 different kinds of sources toward the semester-long project. Students then gradually got immersed in their topics and became scrutinous experts on the source material out there.

When it came time to write the paper, they were comfortable thinking on the page.

Ronda Leathers Dively!

 ::  Discuss  ::  2015-11-03  ::  dave

Comedy
2015-09-01 :: dave
Endorsements
2015-07-20 :: dave
tabulature
2015-07-15 :: dave
NF
2015-06-22 :: dave
Very Good Paragraphs
2015-06-21 :: dave
Books + NF
2015-06-17 :: dave
NF
2015-06-03 :: dave
Comedy + Endorsements
2015-05-27 :: dave
Endorsements
2015-05-25 :: dave
queers + TV
2015-05-12 :: dave