In this course, we will explore how survival might shape the way we read, write, and remember traumatic experience. What does it mean to survive a disaster, be it walking away from a train crash, a volcanic eruption, a battle field, or a massacre? Is it possible to represent those experiences in words and translate them into other languages, for other generations and other cultures?
Students will consider various examples (from newspaper clippings, folklore and mythology, scriptural and canonical texts, science fiction, poetry, and film) about a variety of events, including the Jewish exodus out of Egypt, the Black Death in Europe, Hurricane Katrina, and others. Our goal for the course will be to develop our skills as close readers, analytic thinkers, and inventive writers. The class will function like a small writing community: you will read the work of your peers, hone your abilities as thoughtful editors and revisers, and learn to anticipate the responses of your readers when editing your own work, which will include at least four short essays.