2019 Outreach Courses and Events

HIDDEN MEANINGS: CREATIVE FICTION, NON-FICTION, AND FACTS (MOOC)

launched November 2019

This MOOC took a creative fiction and non-fiction approach to understanding and recognizing information, misinformation, and disinformation. Content includes iconic pieces as well as with more recent fiction and non-fiction texts, and technically explores how elements of information are used, as well as encouraging participants to experiment with these elements in their own creative fiction and non-fiction responses, contributing to the identification and strengthening of the roles of mythbusters, debunkers, and individuals in countering disinformation.

 

FAKE NEWS: FACTS, INFORMATION, DISINFORMATION, MISINFORMATION

11/15/2019 through 12/31/2019 (Belgium)

This creative writing course explored the elements of information, such as details, particulars, facts, figures, statistics, and data; the differences between primary and secondary sources including those found in traditional media, social media, and new media; the ways in which misinformation and disinformation are used; and a history and overview of propaganda. An example of one of the discussions:

Alec Nevala-Lee, in "What Karl Rove’s Learned from Jorge Luis Borges," writes: “The great theme in Borges, among all those labyrinths and mirrors, is how the world can be shaped, and even physically transformed, by the intellectual structures we impose on it. These ideas find their fullest expression in “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.” In the fictional world invented by Borges’s army of scholars, the only science is psychology, and an idea, or even a physical object, can become real if enough people believe it exists. Given our readings this week, what do you think is required for something to seem "real enough" for people to believe it exists? In other words, what kinds of details are needed to convince someone that a place, a person, a thing can and does exist, even if it's not possible or likely for it to exist? 

 

WRITE FOR YOUR LIFE: TURNING TRAUMA INTO STORIES

5/1/2019 through 6/20/2019 (Burundi, Rwanda)

This course on creative writing and trauma narrative, and explored strategies of creating vivid, compelling stories (fiction and/or nonfiction) from difficult experiences such as illness, trauma, or disability. The course focused on the elements of craft while simultaneously addressing the challenges of writing from personal suffering.

The course coincided with the marking of 2019 as the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, through an extended period of national collective mourning. Participants in the course included people involved in the creative arts in addition to people who work with relief organizations and NGOs, including Doctors Without Borders. As many applicants noted, the importance of the topic and the timing of this course for this region cannot be stressed enough. Borrowing the words of Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission: “Time can never erase the darkest hours in our history. But it is at the heart of our darkest moments that begins our ascent to the light.”

 

ON THE SPOT (in-person symposium)

4/12/2019 through 4/13/2019 (Philippines)

The “On the Spot” symposium took place during the Filipino National Literature Month.  The first day’s session worked with the theme of “Filipino Poetry in the Age of Social Media (Traditions and Innovations)’ and included historical and practical discussions on Filipino poetic traditions, including bugtong and salawikain (riddles and proverbs.)

As it was also National Poetry Month in the USA, the second day’s session focused on two canonical American poets, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, and examined language and craft through the framework of translation exercises. Instructor and former IWP Fall Resident (2017) Kristian Sendon Cordero said: "It was a terrific journey working with the Whitman and Dickinson translation projects – it was an incredible experience seeing our participants locate themselves in relation to English and their local languages!"

 

Happening Now

  • Our congratulations to 1986 Fall Residency writer Kwame Dawes, who has been named the new poet laureate of Jamaica.

  • Congratulations to our colleagues Jennifer Croft and Aron Aji, who are among those serving as judges for the National Book Awards this year, in their case in the category of translated literature.

  • Ranjit Hoskote’s speech at the 2024 Goa Literary Festival addresses the current situation in Gaza.

  • In NY Times, Bina Shah worries about the state of Pakistani—and American—democracy.

  • “I went to [Ayodhya] to think about what it means to be an Indian and a Hindu... ”  A new essay by critic and novelist Chandrahas Choudhury.

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