How we write about class is concerned with how we imagine class. What are the markers of socioeconomic class that show up in literature? How do we describe and depict class, and what assumptions are bound up in this? Is it in the scenery, in the characters? Is it in how people relate to one another?
This course approaches class as something that appears throughout texts, not just in relation to where a character works or the material conditions of their lives. Class, intertwined with race, sex, and gender, affects how characters and narrators relate to and describe the world, each other, themselves.
But unlike some other markers of identity, a character can change their class status. Beyond class being a category in flux, characters, narrators, and people can endeavor to hide their class status from others in the text—or even from the reader.
Though this course takes class as its broad subject area, we will spend the majority of our time focusing on poverty and working-class narratives. How is poverty imagined in literature, and what does that say about how we conceptualize poverty? How does poverty affect characters? What assumptions do we bring to a text about poverty?
Texts will include:
- Without a Net, second edition, edited by Michelle Tea
- Trash by Dorothy Allison
- Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson
- Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
- Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Students will be expected to have read Without a Net for the first class.
*No class February 4th.
5 full scholarships will be offered to low-income or working class writers. As we will discuss in the class, the definition of “low-income” can be slippery, and a way of gatekeeping in and of itself. If you would not be able to attend this class without a scholarship, please apply for one. Our goal is to eliminate barriers and make our classes as accessible and equitable as possible. If you are interested in this class but the tuition is a barrier or burden, please email [email protected] by January 2nd. Scholarships will be awarded by lottery.
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.
- Students will understand how class shows up in literature, even when it goes unmentioned or unmarked
- Students will gain an awareness of how class changes across time and space, in a character's life, and how that affects their relationship to the world
- Students will gain tools to think critically about class as a category of unfixed identity
- My personal goal as an instructor is to help empower and encourage students, especially low-income students, to feel confident in writing about class
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will be expected to have read all the assigned materials before our class meetings. Note that our discussion of Pachinko will be broken up over two weeks to give students enough time to read the entire novel. Students will have optional creative writing prompts throughout the course, but they are not required to complete these.
Participants must have access to the five assigned books, either as physical copies or e-books.
Week 1: Without a Net, second edition, edited by Michelle Tea
Week 2: Trash, Dorothy Allison
Week 3: Jesus' Son, Denis Johnson
Week 4: Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward
Week 5: First half of Pachinko, Min Jin Lee
Week 6: Second half of Pachinko, Min Jin Lee
Madeline Vosch is a writer and translator. She writes fiction and essays, and is currently working on a memoir. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Offing and Heavy Feather Review, among others. She was an Aspen Words Emerging Writer Fellow and the winner of the Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest in nonfiction in 2021.
"Your class was my favorite class I've ever taken. It really helped me find who I was as not only a writer but a storyteller."
“Madeline is a fantastic editor. Her strength is really asking generative questions--figuring out the places where you could do more, go deeper--and having her read my work has improved it immensely. Her own writing shines with deep understanding and empathy, qualities which are reflected in her work with others' writing.”
“Excellent instructor: tremendously caring, kind, and thoughtful. Left insightful, high-quality response to my poetry.”