RETURN, RETELL, REVISE:
Making Story, History, Memory, & Community
June 20 – August 13, 2016
The purpose and ethos of the Arete Project is itself a revision: taking LL Nunn’s founding pedagogical philosophy for Deep Springs College and purposefully and radically opening it up. According to Karl Marx, “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.” Indeed, the present can, must, take many relations and attitudes to the stories, events, and structures of the past (not all of them as stark as Marx’s vision). We will spend our summer seminar exploring the creation and narration of these relations. The fields for our exploration will be no less than our lives, communities, literature, myths, history, politics, and laws.
Reading, we will begin with Odysseus’s archetypal story and trace its reverberations in reimaginings by writers like Margaret Atwood and Louise Glück. Over the course of the summer, history will appear in the form of hauntings – things believed to be safely ensconced in the past that return, often misshapen and deformed – as well as through purposeful appropriation: in palimpsests and cover tracks that create new forms to redress old wrongs. We will look at revisions of history that uncover submerged and silenced voices. We will read “against the grain.” We will watch as writers like Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson obsessively return to the same text, editing and republishing. We will witness as the transcripts of historical court cases are interrogated to create experimental poems, narratives, scholarly interventions, and activism pitched toward a radically different future. We will grapple with concepts of eternal return, historical recurrence, the uncanny, and the double; with both ruptures and continuity. Additional specific terrain we will traverse will likely include the strange case of Martin Guerre and Frankenstein, as well as writings by M. Nourbese Philip, Saidiya Hartman, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, E.P. Thompson, Jorge Luis Borges, and Susan Howe.
Through reading; regular writing of all kinds; thoughtful, open-minded, and rigorous conversation; collaboration; and the summer-long development of creative, scholarly, and practical projects, we invite you to grapple with history, both close and far, and to make something new.