UofL Writing Center

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It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Fun Writing Comics at the Library in the Summer!

The University Writing Center is committed to writing and literacy projects in the Louisville community. This summer, continuing our work in the Western Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library, several staff and volunteers from the University Writing Center facilitated four writing workshops for K-12 students. In consultation with Natalie Woods, the manager of the Western Branch, we decided to connect the workshops to the Library’s summer reading theme of “Super-Readers,” and help young people write their own comics. The four workshops had a total of about fifty participants. It was a great experience for everyone, as you can see in the reflections of the University Writing Center staff on their experiences in working with these young – and enthusiastic writers.

Cassandra Book, Associate Director

For the first of four workshops, Layne, Chris, and I came in with a plan, though we didn’t know what or who to expect. At 2 p.m. on the rainy afternoon, about ten eager kids rushed down the stairs from the main part of the library to the spacious basement conference room. Our workshop plan, developed by our fearless leader Christopher Scheidler (aliases: Omega Ant and Fry Guy), broke down the comic writing process into three stations: character, plot, and design development. Most kids flocked to the

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Ultra-Guy, one writer’s superhero

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Catgirl, one writer’s superhero

character development station. The children’s own identities, their lives, and, of course, their beloved superheroes and villains provided inspiration. Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Cat Woman, Iron Man, and The Joker all made appearances. When they finished with creating characters, many moved to plot development. Layne helped to guide their thinking through the beginning (set-up and introduction), middle (problem and climax), and end (resolution) of the plot. One surprise to us was that several of the plots intersected. The children created intertextuality—a character in one comic appeared in another writer’s as well. By the end of the two-hour workshop, we received one of our biggest compliments, that the workshop was “better than playing computer games upstairs.”

Chris Scheidler, Assistant Director

I thought that our comic book workshop was more fun than playing computer games, too. Of course, one of the reasons I initially suggested a

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Chris working with creative writers.

comic book writing workshop was because I thought it would be a way to quickly make writing fun and accessible. I also thought comic-book writing would be popular because of recent superhero movies and the library’s summer program on superheroes. Originally, I had suggested using one of the several computer programs or web-apps that are freely available, but Bronwyn raised a good point: namely, the importance of writers leaving the workshop with a tangible and material sign of their effort. Indeed, one of the biggest highlights of this summer’s workshop was during our third session where one of the writers laid-out, glued, and bound several pages into what would become a full-fledged comic book.

Of course, because comic books rely so heavily on visuals, the workshops had the added effect of pulling us a bit out of our creative element. I was particularly uncomfortable with having to draw and during the first session I found myself repeating “I’m not a good artist”. Yet any perceived lack of artistic aptitude didn’t dismay from us being creative and fully investing in the stories of our superheroes. Indeed, by the end of the second workshop writers were narrating stories as we all took turns sketching out scenes for our comic – we didn’t hold back from trying to put together interesting plot points, daring visuals, or exciting dialogue.

Layne Gordon, Assistant Director

At both of the workshops I attended this summer, I was most interested in and inspired by the writers’ desire to create superheroes that resembled themselves, as Cassie mentions above. At the time of the first workshop Wonder Woman had just premiered in

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Wonder Woman

theaters, and several of the girls wanted to draw a Wonder Woman character. But when they did, they added curly hair or glasses or a super power that they found more interesting and relevant to their own lives. They literally re-vised this character, remaking her in their own images. At the final workshop, I chose to do the same as I drew alongside the young writers. I created a superhero called Flash Mom inspired by my recent escapist foray into the Flash television show and my renewed interest in running—now with my one-year-old in tow in a jogging stroller. This required a lot more vulnerability than I expected as some of the writers asked me about what I was drawing and why, but it was also really fun to turn a male superhero into a mom superhero. I learned a lot from these young writers about the power of reimagining and revising our heroes as people more like us.

Jessica Newman, Assistant Director

I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to help facilitate one of the Western Branch Comic Writing Workshops this summer. The other University Writing Center facilitators did a great job of creating activities and prompts to help participants with different aspects of the comic writing process. During the workshop that I helped facilitate, Cassie held down the fort at the creating your superhero station—generally the first stop in the workshop—where participants thought about and drew their superheroes. 015918d57fdb4c6c54b8e73865805859135908e76fChris collaborated with an enthusiastic table of participants to create an entire universe of food superheroes and supervillains. At a third table, I helped participants think through their superheroes’ narratives (including things like conflict, resolution, characters and setting), and I was so impressed with the story lines and details that they come up with. I hope the participants had as great a time as I did creating superheroes (mine was Picasso Girl) and stories, and seeing what everyone else created. We could not have had such a successful series of workshops without Western Branch’s enthusiasm and support, and certainly not without the excitement and creativity of all the workshop participants.

 

Event: Many Voices: Writing About LGBTQ+ Issues

We are excited to offer an upcoming event in partnership with the LGBT Center at the University of Louisville. Details below!

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Text of flyer:

Many Voices: Writing About LGBTQ+ Issues
Tuesday, March 1
5:00-6:00 p.m.
University Writing Center, First Floor Ekstrom Library
This workshop is open to all student creative writers who identify as LGBTQ or as an ally, and will focus on writing about LGBTQ identities, experiences, and issues in a safe, supportive space. We will talk about finding the words for difficult or often silenced experiences, produce writing through guided prompts, and make connections with other writers.
Participants will not be required to share their work, although they are welcome to do so. Contact laura.tetreault@louisville.edu with any questions.

Event: Bad Love Poems Open Mic

Join us tomorrow, Tuesday 2/9 at 6:00PM, for an open mic presented by the White Squirrel and the University Writing Center! Details below:

white squirrel valentines day open mic

Upcoming Workshops, Events, and Writing Groups in the Spring Semester

DSCN3694Laura Tetreault, Assistant Director

As one of the Assistant Directors of the University Writing Center, I had the privilege of working closely this semester with our staff and consultants to help develop some new projects. We are hoping to use the new, more centrally located space on the first floor of the Ekstrom Library to host some exciting events in the spring semester, with the goal of working with more writers and strengthening campus conversations about writing.

We are hoping in particular to strengthen the Writing Center’s contributions to the creative writing community here at UofL. We enjoying working with many writers completing academic or professional projects, but some may not know that we can also work with any writers doing creative writing—whether for classes or for personal projects. Although I believe that any strict separation between “academic” and “creative” is a false one, I am also invested in expanding the Writing Center’s presence as a welcoming space for creative writers. Many of our consultants this year have expertise in creative writing and are eager to work with students on fiction, poetry, nonfiction, screenwriting, or any other genre.

One of the upcoming projects connecting the Writing Center with creative writing will be a series of three writing workshops aimed at any undergraduate writers. Each workshop will be themed around a specific topic or genre of writing, and we hope for these to be highly participatory. In addition to learning about the overall topic of each workshop, writers will produce work during the sessions through interactive brainstorming and drafting activities. We plan for these to be helpful to writers working on a variety of projects, whether those are for personal, professional, or academic purposes.

The Writing Center is already a space for writers across campus working on a wide variety of projects. We are also thinking of other ways to make our new location a space to bring writers together, build community, and celebrate the creative work that many of our students do every day. With these goals in mind, we are hoping to host events such as a student open mic night.

We are also continuing our already successful graduate student and junior faculty writing groups this spring. Please refer to our website for more information if you are a graduate student or faculty member who would like to participate in a group that provides support, accountability, and feedback for any kind of writing project.

To stay up to date on these and other upcoming projects, please return to this space in the spring for more specific details and feel free to follow us on Twitter at @UofLWritingCtr. We wish all of our readers a restful winter break and a happy holiday season!

 

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