Submission Guidelines for Semester Projects

  1. Your semester projects are due Saturday, May 22. As long as I have them by Sunday, that works.
  2. Include an Acknowlegements page. Include any person, institution, text, or community that has helped you develop your project.
  3. Send them to me as attachments, with a short email describing what your revision process has been, from the start of the semester (or before) up to now. Include some reflection on what you’d like to do next.
  4. Remember, this is about revision and development. You’re all at different stages with really different projects. If your project is feeling complete or nearly complete, that’s great. If it’s work you’ve done toward something you’ll continue working on, great. If it’s an experiment you’ll put away for now, great. It’s really about the process and development, so don’t feel any pressure to wrap it up or make it feel finished if it’s not.

Research Update

Super late with this. Not sure how I let this one get past. I am reading a couple of books about Marvin. But also hoping to get an interview with a DJ from one of the radio stations that I used to listen to a long time ago that used to play a lot of Marvin’s music. Also looking at old concert footage.
I have sent an email to the DJ. I have tried to reach out to him through a friend that knows him. I sent an email over a week ago. So far I have not heard back. Not sure if he will. However, I don’t think anything he would have to say is crucial to what I am writing. But I think it would be very interesting to have his thoughts if possible.

For Tuesday, April 20

To prepare for Tuesday’s class, choose a moment from Vietnamerica that does one (or both) of the following in an interesting way:


1. We’ve talked about the fact that in autobiographical writing there are varying levels of distance and tone in the relationship between the “I” narrating in the present and the narrated “I” of the past (from an hour to decades before). Find a moment where Tran handles that relationship in an interesting way. How does he give it texture, dynamism? How does he represent himself in multidimensional ways? How do his techniques shape your reading experience?


2. We’ve also talked a little bit about the craft and ethics of representing other people. Find a moment when Tran represents another person in an interesting way. How does he craft that person’s voice? How does it relate to his own narration? What ethical questions does the moment raise? How does Tran handle these with his craft choices?


It may be that the moment you find does both #1 and #2, but it doesn’t need to. Once you’ve found the moment you’d like to discuss, try an experiment in reverse engineering. What steps or phases do you imagine went into the creation of this moment? If it were you, where would you start? If you got to something like what Tran does, what would the steps be that got you there?

Research Update

It was thesis crunch-time for me, so I’ve been using all of my brainpower on finishing that up- apologies on my super late post. I finally submitted it and am feeling a bit liberated.
Since “exploring my liminal identity” is such a broad topic, my research has been whatever comes up from translating / writing, so it’s been sort of random and something that’s hard to track progress in, if I’m being honest. I want to submit new writing (not from thesis) for my next workshop, and I’m not sure if it’ll involve translation or not this time. I’ve been enjoying writing bilingually, so my research will probably be focused on language (etymology of phrases, words; history and context of phrases, words; etc.) I’m just hoping to get the ball rolling, but as many others mentioned, I’m definitely starting to feel the burnout.

research update

Like others have mentioned, I haven’t had the time to do the research I’ve wanted / have felt generally overwhelmed and burnt out. Every week is a race to the finish line, and then boom, again it starts; a friend likened the feeling to being on a hamster wheel. (I’m seeing this in my students, too — we are all exhausted.) That being said, I’m feeling okay about my progress on this project. I haven’t done any research on the history of fridges or of refrigeration, but I’ve done some minor research on community fridges and might do a bit more, and I’ve added more fridge sketches to the piece, which feels like a sort of research in itself (or maybe the research was in the gathering). I’m hoping to get a lot of work done over the summer, and perhaps then I will dive into more research  and work on related projects. Especially because it sometimes feels difficult to carve out time to come to the page throughout the week/to reach the mental headspace of not running off to do five other things, I’d also really appreciate more in-class writing (maybe sometimes with the option to share, if that’s something people want). My next draft is longer than 8-10 pages, too, which I hope you’ll all tolerate!

Research Update

I’m on the same boat as L…. I want haven’t done much research lately. This semester has probably been my worst mentally. I just don’t feel like myself, my work ethic is just bad this time around. I do plan on asking my Dad about my grandpa’s memoir and his writings and why no one in our family read it. Since he did mention seeing my grandpa write a lot, I wonder why no one really ask him questions about it at the time. I’m going to pinpoint some important moments in the memoir to include in my piece, since people wanted more of it.

I will do some minor researching on Burma’s history to get some of the important facts in there about the British’s ruling, Japan’s and the eventually military takeovers. I hope getting all the research in will inspire me to write in a way I don’t usually do so and most importantly get me on the right track mentally. I imagine the research will change my tone/voice a lot.

Research Update

As others have written, I have also had scant time to work on my project in a formal sense. I’ve been doing a lot of journaling/brainstorming/brain dumping about this piece, but I’ve realized that in the context of this class I had to tighten my focus. For our class I am going to focus on the writing about the desert by white women including Mary Austin, Edna Brush Perkins, Joan Didion, Eve Babitz, and Rebecca Solnit, as well as some shorter, contemporary articles that look at the way the desert is romanticized/fetishized by women (mostly, but certainly not all white) looking to “find themselves.” I’m going to blend that with my own memoir/observations/critique and certainly implicating the ways that I have also fallen into romanticizing the desert landscape and not being fully aware of the histories of erasure of Native American people and ways of life here. I think for future research I want to focus more heavily on learning and understanding more about the past and contemporary Native Americans who call this land home, but I realize outside of a cursory mention, to go as deeply into this research as I would like will take more time then I have this semester. The positive about this is that I think I’ve hit on a longer and meatier project, so I’m excited to see where it will take me.

Research update

I’ve unfortunately not had much time to work on my project at all…I think since the beginning of the semester was busy with working on the presentation, readings and my first workshop piece, I haven’t really had time to sit down and work on my own creative stuff as I diligently do every semester. I’m hoping this second half of the semester will be a little easier for me to navigate and I will have more time to write vs. thinking/talking/studying about writing. Carving out extra time can be very difficult, and personally, would love to do more in-class writing to get the juices flowing.

Research Update

Hi everyone,

I am having some trouble deciding what I want to work on for the final research project in this class. Unlike some of you, I’m not working on a longer-term literary nonfiction/biography writing project, and I am pretty happy with the length of my previous project, so I don’t want to return to that. The only other thing on my radar at the moment, and I don’t know if it’s appropriate to bring here, is the writing I do in my other role as a freelance writer.

While it is one of my goals to get into writing about more literary material (book reviews, essays a la LARB, etc.), currently most of my public writing focuses on new media criticism. I am beginning to work on a critical piece that is focused on an indie game from last year called Cloud Gardens, in which you place pieces of trash around an arena. The trash makes plants grow, and your goal is to create a kind of environmental sculpture made out of plants. (I realize this probably sounds strange, but I have attached some screenshots that hopefully demonstrate what I mean.)

Basically, my interest is in writing about how this game plays with the player’s power in a way that is antithetical to normal building games, which are focused on dominating nature. Here, you are placing human-made elements in order to make nature literally overtake humanity. I am hoping to spend some time on the history of building games (i.e. Sim City, City Skylines, etc.) to determine what this game’s position on human power and relationships to nature is relative to other games like it, and what it does that other ecocritical mediums (i.e. books) can’t.

I think what I have learned is having a model to begin to incorporate facts and history into my work more naturally (a la Abdurraqib). I know not everyone is abreast of video game terminology, so I think this would be a good opportunity for me to make sure this concept and my explanation of it make sense. However, I could also see this not being the appropriate venue for this project, as it is less personal and more critical. Please let me know what you think.

Podcast development update

Hi all,

Very sorry to miss our last class before Spring Break, and looking forward to seeing you all again tomorrow!

Thank you to everyone for your helpful feedback with the podcast I am developing on writing and community. I’m still playing with ideas for the name (Under the Umbrella), which connects to the concepts of gathering together under some level of protection(?), and also a possible resort/beach/poolside vibe, but is not obviously about writing, which may be important for someone who is searching for a literary podcast they might be interested in. (A reminder that this podcast will be branded as a project of the Resort writing community project that I’ve been building over the past year.)

I’ve now listened to, I think, every episode of The Turnaround with Jesse Thorn (where he interviews interviewers about interviewing), to help me conceptualize and put my interviewing approach into words (broadly speaking, I am approaching every interview as a unique conversation between two people – I believe no two interviewers can conduct the same interview, and if they do it’s a very one-sided sounding thing). I will continue, with this podcast project, to aim for interviews that are full of curiosity (active listening on my part) and open to surprise. I’ve listened to more episodes of The Maris Review, and I am now able to put my finger on what bothers me about that podcast: Maris does a lot of agreeing with her interview subjects, as if everything they are saying to her is, yes, of course, obvious – and it makes me wonder why she is doing the interview if she doesn’t look for ways to be surprised? To me, it comes across as more about posturing that yes, of course, as a host, she knows all of the cool stuff already. I understand that there is some appeal to listening to two people who are already friendly with each other, and maybe she is responding that way to her subjects to be affirming to them, as a way of putting them at ease, but I think I want something different.

I’ve recently started listening to The Stacks, a literary podcast/book club that has been around for a few years and is GREAT – wonderful guests, lengthy conversations where I learn things (and the host does, too! and she is wonderfully enthusiastic but not overbearingly so), plus a cool format: each guest is on twice: once to talk about their own writing, and once to talk about The Stacks book club pick of the month. The host of this podcast has managed to build this project to a point where it is her primary income, which is inspiring to someone looking to get out of her current line of work!

I also attended a a Zoom panel hosted by the Columbia School of the Arts program on finding BIPOC & LGBTQ literary community after the MFA, and I was scribbling down so many notes – so many great words of wisdom shared! I’m reaching out to two of the panelists, Nadxieli Nieto and Jennifer Baker, both of whom I’ve worked with in some capacity before, to be early guests on my writing and community podcast.

As I’ve thought more about the format that this podcast will take, I’ve thought about how some projects need time to develop organically into their best shape (this was true for the LIC Reading Series I started several years ago, playing around with the format for a few months and seeing what worked, and I’ve also seen this be true in other people’s projects that I’ve followed over the years). And – if this is truly a project about writing & community, then I can’t really map it all out all by myself in advance – I thikn it makes sense for the format to develop organically over time with the community that is involved with the podcast (as guests, as listeners, etc).

My aim for this semester is the following:
-script a trailer or introductory episode that covers my reasons for doing such a podcast, why I’m – hopefully! – well positioned to host this podcast, and a bit about what listeners might expect to find in this podcast. I hope to record this initial episode and make some music/editing decisions
-reach out to several folks for brief interviews, for a first season of short interviews with individuals, as the podcast “gets its feet wet” and figures out its direction for future seasons
-ideally record a couple of these interviews and perhaps have eidted versions to share with class

I’m building this podcast to be a longer term project than the length of this semester, looking at this semester as a container for getting a good foundation going and as a kick in the butt to actuallly start broadcasting.