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4 Weeks of Reading Hybrid-Language Prose as Writers

How does the move from city to city, country to country, continent to continent affect a writer’s expression of language? How does code switching appear in the written form? What are the politics of italicization? How does one develop a sense of plurality in the language they write in?

With the opening up of geographical boundaries, there is an inevitable opening of linguistic boundaries. This blurring of the language barrier allows for the creation of a hybrid language, a non-traditional form of expression.

In this course, we will think about the relationship between our first and second languages, while also deep-diving into our own identities as writers—how much of it comes from our languages, culture, home, and place of residence? We will read books, extracts of work, and poetry by Natalie Diaz, Bhanu Kapil, Sandra Cisneros, Rose Lu, Aleksandar Hemon, Yiyun Li, Ada Limón, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Jonathan Escoffery, among others. The goal of our course will be to take lessons from these texts we can incorporate into our own writing.

Books will include:

- The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

- All Who Live On Islands by Rose Lu

- The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

- If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery (only one story will be used from this collection in class and will be provided by the instructor, but the whole book is recommended reading!)

English itself comes with myriad accents, dialects, and personal lexicons, which is why this class is for anyone—you don’t have to be bilingual, and you don’t need English to be your second language.

Participants are expected to have read The House on Mango Street before the first session.

Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. 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.  

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- Learn to read genre and genre-defying works that experiment and use language that isn't rigidly Standard White English.

- Explore techniques and elements in hybrid language writing and reflect on the politics of place, language, translation, and italicization.

- Experiment in writing that isn't your primary genre, that isn't pure English.

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

Students will come to class having read the assigned book/essay/short story and work with in-class prompts to produce their own writing.

Participants must have access to the three assigned books, either as physical copies or e-books.

Participants are expected to have read The House on Mango Street before the first session begins. Participants are expected to have read the book or assigned readings before each session begins

COURSE SKELETON:

Week 1: Introduction, exploration of language writing, and discussion of The House on Mango Street

Week 2: Conversation about our own languages and dialects, whether learned, forgotten, or simply dreamt; discussion of Jonathan Escoffery's "Under the Ackee Tree" and Gloria Anzaldúa's "How to Tame a Wild Tongue"

Week 3: Conversation about the idea of "place" and psycho-geography; discussion of Rose Lu's "All Who Live on Islands" and Aleksandar Hemon's "Mapping Home"

Week 4: Conversation about italicization; discussion of "The God of Small Things" and "How to Write a Sentence"

Abhigna Mooraka

Abhigna is a reader, writer, and educator from Bangalore living in New York City. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she was nominated for the Henfield Prize and awarded a Graduate Teaching Fellowship. She is obsessed with maps, and in another life, might have been a cartographer.

Testimonials

"[Abhigna] gave me such great feedback during office hours (as well as in workshop) and boosted my confidence as a writer. She was also great at facilitating the workshop discussions themselves. Columbia is really lucky to have her as a professor."

former student Beginning Fiction, Columbia University

"[Abhigna's] classes made me want to write everyday. I’d get up from a semi-slumber to quickly type out a nice sentence that I had thought of into the notes on my phone. I enjoyed every line she asked us to construct, even the silences before and after class. I felt challenged often, and I liked that. Our teacher was the kind of person you want to be friends with."

former student NIFT, Bangalore

"Abhigna was wonderful at prompting and guiding the class discussions. She knew how to draw ideas and thoughts out from students. The in-class exercises were also helpful. I also appreciated the diversity of the class—it definitely enriched our class discussions to have disparate POVs."

former student Columbia University