Reading and Writing Nonfiction: Ambience, Architecture, & Environment (LIT4389.01)

Anaïs Duplan

The places where our stories take place have the power to dramatically change our experiences of those stories. In other words, it’s not just about the people in our narratives, or about dialogue, or even about accurately describing our inner worlds, what we think and perceive. When we read, we are also looking to be located, to be placed somewhere. We can think of places architecturally, or on the level of the cities or towns where our characters lives. Places can also be elusive and ambient. Take the illusion of a continuous presence created by an omniscient narrator, for instance. Or take the following kinds of ambience a story might evoke: the sense of suspense (the anticipation of impending doom), thrill (or of enjoyment), enthrallment (or of some complicated mix of doom and ecstasy). The architecture that makes up literature has the capacity to capture us. With this in mind, writers must create spatial awarenesses (not just the one sense of spatial awareness, but multiple) in 360° in their stories. They must facilitate the possibility of embodying, for their readers, the stories they tell. In nonfiction, where we ask readers to invest in our personal experiences, it is integral that we give as much attention to the buildings, rooms, and climatological conditions that our memories take place in. This transforms our writing from mere diaristic recounting into a fully-fledged literature of the self. 

Learning Outcomes:
- To render architecture and environment with clarity
- To write more effective and engaging nonfiction
- To develop the skill of giving and receiving feedback

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: To apply for this workshop course, please submit 5-8 pages of creative nonfiction, along with a brief explanation of your interest in ambience, architecture, and environment via this form. Submissions are due by May 15, 2023.
Corequisites: Students are required to attend all Literature Evenings and Poetry at Bennington events this term, commonly held at 7pm on most Wednesday evenings.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
W 2:10PM - 5:50PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: 4000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Literature