When we think about point of view, we typically think about whose perspectives govern the telling of stories, and how those perspectives are presented. Whose story is it? With what degree of proximity or remove should the story be presented? Why?
In this generative workshop we’ll consider these alongside other questions, such as: how can point of view be used to mediate the relationship between the self and the social world? Whose points of view do we feel best positioned to inhabit, and why? What does the history of literature tell us about trends in point of view across time and genre—and how do these trends reflect shifting understandings of the social self? How and to what effect have writers–such as Jeanne Thornton, Justin Torres, Tom Cho, and N.K. Jemisin—experimented with unconventional points of view?
While point of view tends to be emphasized more in fiction, it is also an essential element of creative nonfiction. Even when writing the self, we are not limited to first person. Authors like Carmen Maria Machado, Dodie Bellamy, and Claudia Rankine, for example, have adopted second and third person in unusual and exciting ways.
Together, we will study a variety of experiments in point of view across both fiction and creative nonfiction, exploring the ethical potential of collective first person, the social politics of the porous “you,” and the affordances and constraints of a gender-neutral “one.” Each session will also involve generative writing prompts inviting students to try these and other possibilities out themselves.
Students will leave this class with a deeper understanding of the social, political, and aesthetic effects of the many points of view available to us in our writing, and with abundant opportunities for trying them out.
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.
Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.
- A deeper understanding of the social, political, and aesthetic effects of the many points of view available to us
- Guided writing opportunities during our weekly craft exercises
- Verbal feedback from the instructor and other students (there will not be written feedback in this workshop)
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will read two to three short works/excerpts (up to 50 pages) before class each week and will be invited to submit a short piece of their own writing in response to prompts. In class, students will respond to generative writing exercises, with sharing encouraged but optional. No written peer or instructor feedback will be given.
Week One - A Brief History of Points of View
Week Two - Collective First Person
Week Three - All About “You”
Week Four - Other Experiments
Megan Milks is the author of Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body and Slug and Other Stories, a revised and updated second edition of their award-winning first book Kill Marguerite and Other Stories, both forthcoming from Feminist Press. Their book Tori Amos Bootleg Webring, the second installment of Instar Books' new Remember the Internet series, is also forthcoming this fall. They teach writing and gender studies in New York.
“MARGARET AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING BODY is queer dynamite. I devoured this book in one sitting, completely engrossed by the wild plot and by Megan Milks’s stellar, singular voice. This is a book of bodies, sure, but it’s also a book about the messiness of them, their complications and intractability, their frustrating unknowability. Their mutability. Their wonder. This novel is a bright spot of brilliance. I absolutely adored it.”
“MARGARET AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING BODY, a thrilling and surprising crystallization of the best and worst parts of growing up in the nineties, lit up all of the pleasure receptors in my brain. It’s intimate, fearless, and a funhouse of form and style. Megan Milks is a supremely generous writer whose work is daring and alive.”
“What if all those nineties book series about girlhood had been truly honest about the process of growing up? You’d get this wonderful book: a comforting facade that opens into an entrancing and wildly innovative gut-renovation of the genre, with an interior that lays bare the hidden workings of life I wish I’d known on my own first run through adolescence. Brilliant.”
"Megan did a fantastic job contextualizing our reading each week, and led smart and focused discussions that centered the students' interpretations of the work. The writing prompts they created for the class were not only evocative, but led to deeper engagement with the selected reading as well. I felt I learned more in two months than I did in several college-level English courses!"
"I was very happy with my experience in the class. The discussions were rich and I appreciated that everyone came from different backgrounds / professions, outside of having a writing practice, which added to the ranging thoughts in the discussion. Megan was thoughtful, kind, and extremely informed in leading the discussions, and took everyone's points seriously, digging deeper into what each of us was saying. This was my first time taking a class like this, and it gave me new skills in being an attentive and inquisitive reader."
“The best teacher I have had in my educational experience. I can truly walk away from the class saying I have actually learned something. My writing has improved and so has my ability to think critically. It is all thanks to the intelligence and constructive criticism of the professor and how perfectly structured the class was.”
“Amazing at organizing and igniting discussions. I don't have enough words to describe how amazing this class and professor were!”
“Megan made the class environment a place where we could ask questions, take risks, and have enjoyable conversations. They gave in-depth feedback and seemed invested in my growth as a student. Thank you for making this class a fantastic experience.”
“Megan Milks is the most interesting prose writer working today. There! I said it. Milks smashes fiction and glues the shards back together. Milks destroys boredom! Milks stans fanfic, retells the New Narrative, lights a million candles at the altar of queer & trans experimental literature, sends love letters to Kathy Acker and Samuel R. Delany and Ovid, hate-reads Sweet Valley High in the sexiest and most disturbing ways. You will never look at Tegan and Sara—or slugs, or tomatoes—in the same way again.”