On blog #5

8 Nov

Graphic score for voice, from Cathy Berberian's performance piece, "Stripsody"

In this last blog, I really encourage you to try some kind of experiment with voice, point of view, or genre to expand your range of writing abilities, and have fun with the tools of literature you have been exposed to. These include, but are not limited to:

–satire (The Beefeater)

–stream-of-consciousness or internal monologue in alternation with third-person narration (American Hijiki)

–narration by a non-human narrator (I Am a Cat)

–the iterative tense of the fairy tale (Momotarō)

–irony (The Restaurant of Many Orders, where the characters’ level of knowledge is much inferior to the narrator’s)

…I am sure there more, and more techniques, to draw on…

As we get farther from September, you–especially first-year students–should be drifting away from the tone and formula of the personal essay you are most likely familiar with, the careful, positive conventions of the application essay. You should be drifting toward a more conscious relation to form, voice, and use of evidence. In short, toward using the tools of critical analysis within your own work, even in a personal narrative.

In fact, many of you have just written papers about this–how the anonymous cat in I Am a Cat does this same thing of achieving a point of view and thus a stance or question to explore, through style, distance, and point of view. All of these are qualities that produce that elusive thing called “voice,” the intangible thing that marks you as a distinctive and capable writer.


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