Amitava Kumar | Master Class

Online, Zoom Saturday, November 6, 2021

Plots are for dead people but voice—oh, voice is how you know you’re alive!

This class will be about how different writers use voice on the page. A review says: “Gornick’s voice does not just tell the story, it is the story.” What does that mean? Voice is an important way that writers put the stamp of their personality on their writing, yes, but we can also use voice as a way of understanding structures of address and style. The use of the second person by Claudia Rankine to force her reader to identify with the subject of racist violence; the use of the third person by J. M. Coetzee even in his autobiography to acquire distance; as a part of a flamboyant reaching for writerly freedom, the direct appeal to the reader made by Vladimir Nabokov in his memoir, Speak, Memory, sections of which were also published as fiction in the New Yorker. With the essay “On Voice” as a point of departure, we will do a couple of writing exercises before turning to W. G. Sebald and Joy Williams to consider how voice can be used to achieve a difficult ambiguity and even ambivalence in our writing.

Amitava Kumar is a writer and journalist. He is the author of several works of nonfiction and three novels. His last novel, Immigrant, Montana, was on the best of the year lists at the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Globe and Mail. His latest book is A Time Outside This Time: A Novel will be out from Knopf in October, 2021. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and residencies from Yaddo, MacDowell, and the Lannan Foundation. He has taught at the writing conference at Sewanee, the Lighthouse Writers Festival in Denver, and the Norman Mailer residency in Provincetown. He is a professor of English at Vassar College.

Course Schedule
Saturday, November 6, 2021
3:00–5:00 p.m.
1 session
Online on Zoom

Scholarship applications have closed for this class.

This class has already happened.

Online, Zoom
United States

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