AWP Nonfiction Cheat Sheet: Thursday Morning

January 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

One of the best (worst) aspects of the AWP Conference is that there are more intellectually-stimulating events than you can ever hope to attend.  Just Thursday morning, for instance, in the first three hours, four nonfiction events jump off the schedule and demand to be seen.  But of course, you have to choose:

Thursday, 9 to 10:15

Virginia C Room
Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level

R114. Tearing Your Heart Off Your Sleeve: The Problem of Pathos in Creative Nonfiction. (B.J. Hollars, Re’Lynn Hansen, Marcia Aldrich, Marion Wrenn, Katie Jean Shinkle) How can nonfiction writers avoid the pitfalls of sentimentality and nostalgia while directly addressing them in the work? Join editors from Black Warrior Review, Fourth Genre, South Loop, Painted Bride Quarterly, and Versal as they discuss the problem of pathos in nonfiction while offering concrete strategies for how best to approach emotionally driven topics. Panelists will also explore how traditional and experimental forms lend themselves to packing an emotive punch within the genre.

Hampton Ballroom
Omni Shoreham Hotel, East Lobby

R120. The Essayist in the 21st Century. (Randon Noble, Robert Atwan, Eula Biss, EJ Levy, Kyoko Mori) What is the future of the essay? How can essayists make this 16th-century form relevant to a new millennium? This panel of writers and editors will discuss how the personal essay is being challenged by more experimental forms, how this traditional genre might transform itself to meet the demands of a new publishing environment, and how new technologies pose logistical, aesthetic, and ethical problems for the essay.

Thursday 10:30 to 11:45

Thurgood Marshall East Room
Marriott Wardman Park, Mezzanine Level

R130. Memoir and Latinidad. (Joy Castro, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Luis Rodriguez, Gustavo Pérez Firmat, Rigoberto González) U.S. Latina/o memoir has developed a rich contemporary tradition that spans the political and stylistic spectrum from Richard Rodriguez to Gloria Anzaldúa. But what makes a memoir Latina/o? Does latinidad influence aesthetics and craft as well as content? Do Latina/o memoirists see themselves as inheriting the life-writing techniques and traditions of the U.S., Latin America, or both? How do writers navigate mainstream expectations that their memoirs will represent whole cultures and nations?

Hampton Ballroom
Omni Shoreham Hotel, East Lobby

R143. A Sense of Where We Were: Nonfiction Writers on Setting. (William Bradley, Robert Root, Bob Cowser, Steven Church, Kristen Iversen) Setting is vital across nonfiction, in essays, memoirs, and literary reportage, and often the main character in travel and nature writing. Giving a reader a sense of where the writer was is key to the reader’s immersion in nonfiction writing. Writers whose works span the range of nonfiction will discuss how they create settings from communities they live in and landscapes they encountered—how to enter place in prose, how to recognize and overcome obstacles, what they’ve learned in the process.

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