Overcoming Resistance to Reflection in Creative Nonfiction

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Overcoming Resistance to Reflection in Creative Nonfiction




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Presentations text content in Overcoming Resistance to Reflection in Creative Nonfiction

Slide1

Overcoming Resistance to Reflection in Creative Nonfiction

Bruce Ballenger

Boise State University

Slide2

Situation and Story (Gornick

)

Protaganist

and Narrator (

Lopate

)

Then-narrator and now-narrator (Pollack)

Narrative and “reflection turn” (Newkirk)

Dramatic narrative and narrative of thought

Narrative and Exposition

Slide3

Strategies for Encouraging Reflection

Sea of experience

Mountain of reflection

Slide4

Literary objections

Story is more important

Show don’t tell

“It’s up to reader”

Drag of exposition

“Ruins the suspense”

Slide5

“Could it be, I wondered, that [my students] had a narcissistic attachment to that ignorant younger self, so fragile, so guileless, and wanted to protect it from the contamination of intellectual sophistication?”

Phillip

Lopate

, “

Relfection and Introspection?

Slide6

Practical objections

States the obvious

“Don’t know what I think”

Placement

Intellectually tentative

“Value emotion over intellect”

Slide7

Patterns of reflection in nonfiction

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Eureka! paragraph

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Thesis

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Block of exposition

Slide11

It was about forty yards to the gallows. I watched the bare brown back of the prisoner marching in front of me. He walked clumsily with his bound arms, but quite steadily,

with that

bobbing gait of the Indian who never straightens his knees. At each step his muscles

slid neatly

into place, the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down, his feet

printed themselves on the wet gravel. And once, in spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path.

It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a

healthy, conscious

man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery,

the unspeakable

wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not

dying, he

was alive just as we were alive.

Orwell, “A Hanging”

Slide12

It was in the breakup that the affair ceased to be in the conventional mode and began to resemble instead the novels of James M. Cain, the movies of the late 30s, all the dreams in which violence and threats and blackmail are made to seem commonplaces of middle-class life

.  What was most startling about the case the State of California was preparing against Lucille Miller was something that had nothing to do with law at all, something that never appeared in the eight-column afternoon headlines but was always there between them:

the revelation that the dream was teaching the dreamers how to live

.  Here is Lucille Miller talking to her lover sometime in the early summer of 1964, after, he had indicated that, on the advice of his minister, he did not intend to see her any more:  "First, I'm going to go to that dear pastor of yours and tell him a few things.... When I do tell him that, you won't be in the Redlands Church any more... Look, Sonny Boy, if you think your reputation is going to be ruined, your life won't be worth two cents."  Here is

Arthwell

Hayton

, to Lucille Miller: "I'll go to Sheriff  Frank Bland and tell him some things that I know about you until you'll wish you'd never heard of

Arthwell

Hayton

.'  For an affair between a Seventh-Day Adventist dentist's wife and a Seventh-Day Adventist personal-injury lawyer, it seems a curious kind of dialogue.

Didion

, “Dreamers of the Golden Dream”

Slide13

How beautiful a street is in the winter! It is at once revealed and obscured. Here vaguely one can trace the symmetrical straight avenue of doors and windows; here under the lamps are

floating islands of pale light

through which pass quickly bright

men and women, who, for all their poverty and shabbiness, wear a certain look of unreality, an air of triumph, as if they had given life the slip, so that life, deceived of her prey, blunders on without them

. But, after all, we are only gliding smoothly on the surface.

The eye is not a miner, not a diver, not a seeker after buried treasure. It floats us smoothly down a stream; resting, pausing, the brain sleeps perhaps as it looks.

Woolf, “Street Haunting”

Slide14

Exposition

Narrative

Short story

Treatise

Montaigne

Cofer

Orwell

Sanders

White

Baldwin

Slide15

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Slide19

The virtues of abstraction

Pedagogies

“the injunction to use detail, be specific, be concrete…pushes the student writer towards a language that most nearly reproduces the immediate experience and away from a language that might be used to understand it, transform it, relate it to something else.”

Slide20

Pedagogies

Journal Prompts

What I understand about this now that I didn’t understand then is …

I once thought _____ but now I think _______.

Most people usually believe _____ about _____, but after the writing I can see _____.

My question when I began this story was ______ but now it is ________.

What we can’t often appreciate when it comes to _____ is ______.

Slide21

Tense shifts

Put yourself back there. Drawing on all senses, describe in the present tense.

Compose beginning with “As I look back on this now, I realize that…”


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