In a voice that calls upon Hawthorne, Poe, or Gilman, write from 250-500 words detailing your perception of a single object. Don’t try to satirize their writing. Take seriously the project of turning your mind toward an unusual preoccupation with an unlikely thing. Think about the cadences of your prose, your vocabulary, the urge to see detail and create larger meanings from it, even if those meanings aren’t entirely or explicitly understood by the speaker. Please don’t write any non-public person. Celebrities are fair game. So are black veils, brick walls, etc. You should be thinking about a monologue that will read well and engage an audience.
After you write the piece, record yourself reading it and email the recording and the transcript to me no later than 7am on Feb 28. We’ll spend most or all of class on Feb 28 listening to 5-10 monologues, discussing what they capture from the writers we’ve read and how they work on their own terms. If you can’t bear to have yours played in class, you should let me know, but I encourage you not to take that route. Having it played is a learning opportunity, a chance to share your work.
Some basic criteria to think about as you write and as we listen in class:
1) Does the piece try seriously to engage the writers we have read in content and style? Where do you see that effort?
2) Does it show an understanding of “monomania” and the literary representation of it?
3) Does the monologue engage an implied listener/reader? How does it raise questions in a listener’s mind about the nature of “sanity” and “illness”? Is the language compelling? Does the piece seem to open outward to think about the place and time of the speaker (that could be the present day or the 19th century) Is it focused on something purely internal or outside a particular period in time?
4) Does the recording work to animate the writing, to give it some kind of emphasis or meaning beyond the written word?