Summer 2005
Fully Enrolled

HUMS 603
Writing, Memory, and the Power of Place

Trentham,Edwina A.

06/27/2005 - 08/10/2005
Monday & Wednesday 05:30 PM - 08:30 PM

Public Affairs Center 136

For many writers, early memories are firmly rooted in a sense of place, and the imagery associated with this passionate involvement plays a powerful role in their work. For example, in Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys, who grew up in the Windward Islands, uses this lush, tropical setting to tell the story of Bertha, the mad woman in the attic in Jane Eyre. The heroine of Rhys's novel describes the garden of her childhood home, Coulibri Estate, as being "as large and beautiful as that garden in the Bible" but remembers the paths were "overgrown and a smell of dead flowers mixed with the fresh living smell," while "orchids flourished out of reach . . . a bell-shaped mass of white, mauve, deep purples." Showing this same rich connection, although with a very different place, Elizabeth Bishop uses Nova Scotia, where she spent the summers in her childhood, as the setting in her poem "At the Fishhouses": "All is silver: the heavy surface of the sea,/swelling slowly as if considering spilling over" near "the small old buildings with an emerald moss/growing on their shoreward walls." By studying the work of Rhys and Bishop, as well as Eudora Welty, Katherine Mansfield, Edwidge Danticat, Dylan Thomas, Derek Walcott, and Seamus Heaney, we will explore how these writers and others use place as a primary source of their imagery, learning new ways to use images from our own past and our own particular connection to place to enrich our writing.

Students will write two short stories (6-10 pages each) and four to six poems. These student writings will be distributed to the class for workshopping in small groups the following week. In addition, in-class writing exercises will be used to encourage the taking of chances that leads to good writing. At the end of the term, students will give a public reading of their work, and we will produce a book of fiction and poetry by everyone in the class. Students will also submit a portfolio of their work, rewritten in response to class discussions and individual conferences with the instructor.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Edwina Trentham (B.A., Wesleyan University; M.F.A., University of Massachusetts, Amherst) is editor of the poetry magazine Freshwater and her book, Stumbling into the Light, was recently published by Antrim House. She was awarded honorable mention in the 2004 Sunken Garden Poetry Festival Competition, and she will be a featured reader there on June 23, 2005. Her poems have been published in many anthologies and literary journals, including The Massachusetts Review, Kalliope, Prairie Schooner, The American Voice, and The American Scholar.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Edwidge Danticat, BREATH, EYES, MEMORY (Random House), Paperback

Seamus Heaney, SEEING THINGS (Farrar, Straus, Giroux), Paperback

Jean Rhys, WIDE SARGASSO SEAS (W.W. Norton), paperback

Edwina Trentham, STUMBLING INTO THE LIGHT (Antrim House), Paperback


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