• "The Circle Uncoiled, Unwound": Following Memory's Storyline with Mystory

    Martha Dana Rust (see profile) , Suzanne England
    TC Memory Studies, TM The Teaching of Literature
    American literature, Digital humanities, Pedagogy, Russian history
    Item Type:
    collaborative learning, memoir, memory studies, multimodal, mystory, nabokov, pedagogical tool, pedagogy, scalar, ulmer, web authoring, writing
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    "A colored spiral in a small ball of glass, this is how I see my own life," writes Vladimir Nabokov in his memoir, Speak, Memory. In our course “What is Memory?” we read and write with Nabokov’s life story using our own form of Gregory Ulmer’s "mystory" mode of writing as a way to discover the life cycles of memories--ours and our students as well as those related by Nabokov--and to explore their tendencies to constellate around images, objects, and their metaphorical relations--the spiral, for instance. Following Ulmer, our mystory is modeled after Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse. Like A Lover’s Discourse, it is based on a "tutor text": A Lover’s Discourse’s tutor text is Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther; ours is Nabokov’s Speak, Memory. Like A Lover’s Discourse, our mystory consists of a collection of "figures," short open-ended compositions in which we write with and after Nabokov, weaving our responses to the autobiography with our own and each others' memories, including autobiographical and collective memories as well as memories of other texts. This "weaving" process is supported by our use of Scalar a multi-modal web-authoring platform, as the environment for our collaborative work. Coupling the responsive mystory mode of studying a memoir to the collaborative Scalar writing environment facilitates students’ appreciation of the similarities between life writing and story writing, thereby also helping them to recognize the activity of remembering as itself a creative process.
    Discusses a class project for a course developed with the support of an "Enduring Questions" grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities
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