In fall 2018, Shobha Rao, Grace Paley Fellow at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, is teaching Writing the Essay I: Feminism in Non-Western Traditions. In this first-year writing seminar, the class considers feminism and the feminist movement as it relates to a range of non-Western cultures, mores, mythologies, and manifestations. Readings focus on contemporary and historical texts, with an emphasis on how these texts illuminate, expand on, and differ from the commonly accepted narrative of Western feminism, most recently embodied by the #MeToo movement. Readings include work by Mariama Bâ, Han Kang, Claudia Salazar Jiménez, Shahrnush Parsipur, Layli Long Soldier, Valeria Luiselli, and others. The class also examines the works of filmmakers and discusses ways in which their work, in concert with written texts, subverts or endorses the accepted means and ends of feminism in the Western world. Written assignments include personal essays, critical analysis, and a creative project aimed at engaging with and deconstructing the various dimensions of feminism. Students emerge from this course with a deeper appreciation of non-Western struggles for expression and actualization and how these struggles fit into our own aspirations for gender equality.In fall 2017, Grace Paley Fellow Diana Goetsch taught the first-year seminar Writing as a Generalist. Writing as a generalist means having the confidence, and acquiring the craft, to tackle any subject, whether science, politics, history, spirituality, sports, race, gender, Swedish metal bands, quilting,
police tactics, stadium architecture, or the naming of horses. The assignments in this class were designed to stretch the abilities of students as writers and as people. Students learned how to trust their own sense of wonder and how to engage the interest of ordinary readers
— not with gimmicks or by posing as experts but with sound craft, hard work, and a willingness to share their humanity. The class learned from some of the great nonfiction practitioners — Annie Dillard, William Zinsser, Diane Ackerman, James Baldwin,
Joan Didion, Joyce Carol Oates, John McPhee, Barry Lopez.
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