Keeping Close: Journals & Notebooks (LIT2531.01)

Jenny Boully

In his essay “The Uses of Literature,” Italo Calvino asserts that in order to write, the writer must first invent the “I” who is writing. The “I” who writes in a notebook, journal, or diary may or may not be an invention. We often think of notebooks as presenting a more candid and honest voice, simply due to the intimacy and purposes of a journal. Who exactly is the writer of a notebook? Do notebooks have motives? How do notebooks aid in the writing life? What is the relationship between writing and memory? We will consider carefully, from Plato: “They will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks.” This course is an examination of the writing life alongside the act of keeping a notebook. We’ll read Annie Ernaux’s Getting Lost alongside the distillation of it in A Simple Passion. We’ll also read such works as “On Keeping a Notebook” by Joan Didion, The Blue Octavo Notebooks by Kafka, The Writing Life by Annie Dillard, ongoingness: on keeping a diary by Sarah Manguso, and bring down the little birds by Carmen Gimenez Smith. In addition to writing critically on assigned texts, students will be required to keep a notebook.

Learning Outcomes:
- To examine various methods of recording and documentation as it applies to a notebook within a writing life;
- To examine various methods of forming a writing life and practice;
- To discover how everydayness finds news expression within literature;
- To discourse on literature eloquently in both discussion and in critical papers.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
T/F 10:30AM - 12:20PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: 2000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Literature