C4 Fields, Almasude: Embodied Memories, Embodied Readers: Experiments in Criticism

Email Abigail Fields at abigail.fields@yale.edu for Zoom link

Monday, July 27 from 2 pm CDT/8 pm CEST to 4 pm CDT/10 pm CEST

Follow up session on Monday, August 11 from 12 pm CDT/6 pm CEST to 2 pm CDT/8 pm CEST

For many who experience and write about violence and trauma, memory does not live on paper, but exists on and in the body. However, the Academy, with its preference for the written word, has proven largely intolerant of this embodied memory. Cultural critics, ignoring the visceral nature of memory, are thus at risk of erasing or misappropriating entire histories or peoples. In this interdisciplinary workshop, we subvert this mode by working to develop a personal, embodied reading practice. Through an emphasis on the visceral—evoking senses such as smell, taste, and sound—and the body/memory of the text and the reader/critic, we experiment with our critical process and output. After presenting and discussing a recent foray into sensorial experimental criticism and its supporting theoretical frameworks, we will challenge participants to document their own experiments in criticism with a provided common text. We ask, how does the critic’s memory/trauma/body interact with (add to or distract from) the author’s expression? By engaging with the text and her own embodied reactions, we consider how the critic can work to echo and amplify a text in its afterli(ves). In the first session, we will engage in group activities and discussion. We will then have a break before the second session, during which time we ask participants to create their own piece of experimental criticism using the common text. We will come back as a group to share and discuss these projects and the experience—its possibilities, its discomforts, its blockages—as a whole.