This writing workshop to the American West offers students the opportunity to engage with a region of the country that resists definition–what and where is the West? –and which has been foundational in defining American national identity and in inspiring the American Dream. Through our travels, we will interrogate, challenge, and revise the myths and tropes of the region. Using literature and literary study as our point of entry, students will write across forms (short story, creative nonfiction, poetry) as we enlarge our understanding of this vast and complex American landscape and the people who call it home.
We will begin in Santa Fe, New Mexico, an eclectic city home to a vibrant community of artists and artisans, from the modernist paintings of Georgia O’Keefe to Meow Wolf, an immersive, multimedia modern art installation. Next, we will travel north to Montana, where we will explore the natural wonders of Yellowstone–the first national park–and immerse ourselves (and get to work!) in local ranching communities to understand the opportunities and challenges facing this way of life. While in Montana, we will also connect with local tribal members to learn about the Native American history and culture of the region. Throughout the program, we will use writing as a mode of reflection, creative engagement, and resistance as we immerse ourselves in the lives and (hi)stories of the American West.