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Look Closer: Writing the Familiar Object

Feb 12
Feb 12
1:00PM - 3:00PM
Julia Ridley Smith
Online via Zoom
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Objects—whether everyday things, family heirlooms, or exquisite works of art—offer rich material for narrative. The writer Italo Calvino put it this way: "The moment an object appears in a narrative, it is charged with a special force and becomes like the pole of a magnetic field, a knot in the network of invisible relationships. . . We might even say that in a narrative any object is always magic."            

In this multi-genre class, we’ll use familiar objects as a starting point for generating new writing. We’ll read and discuss literature that considers the range of reactions, memories, and cultural associations objects evoke for us. Together, we’ll look at and write about a few specific, provided objects, and you’ll have the opportunity to write about an object that’s personally significant to you.

Julia Ridley Smith is the author of The Sum of Trifles (University of Georgia Press, 2021), a memoir in essays. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Ecotone, Electric Literature, the New England Review, and The Southern Review, among other publications, and her nonfiction was recognized as notable in The Best American Essays 2019. She's been awarded scholarships, fellowships, and residencies by the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Millay Colony, the Cuttyhunk Island Residency, and the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities. After earning her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, she worked for nearly twenty years as a freelance copyeditor of academic books. She's taught creative writing and literature at UNC Greensboro, as well as art-based writing workshops for educators and other adults at the Weatherspoon Art Museum. She is the 2021-22 Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lives in her hometown of Greensboro, NC. You can find her at www.juliaridleysmith.com, and follow her on Twitter at @JuliaTrifles.

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