Gillian Jerome has taught Creative Writing and Literature at GEIST magazine, the University of Arizona, Douglas College and community centres around Vancouver. She has taught full-time at the University of British Columbia since 2004. 

Life Writing

“I write to define myself—an act of self creation—part of the process of becoming.”
–Susan Sontag

This workshop is designed for people who aren’t professional writers, but who have something meaningful to say about their lives. We will learn how to discover our stories and to focus our material using techniques of creative nonfiction and Life Review, an educational process that enhances our understanding of ourselves and our lives through storytelling. By reading, writing and participating in interactive exercises, we will be guided toward finding new ways to write about our lives, for ourselves and/or for others.

WHAT WILL WE LEARN? HOW WILL WE LEARN?

Participants will be introduced to a variety of creative non-fiction as well as techniques used in Life Review. We will read short non-fiction pieces, talk about them, and use them as examples, along with other writing prompts, to write about our own lives and experiences. By the end of the workshop, we will have a clearer sense of our life stories — what stories we want to tell and how we want to tell them.

Prior to the workshop you’ll be given a maximum of three (3) short readings. During the workshop, you’ll be given a handout with three more readings in it. Readings might include full text or excerpts from:

David Sedaris, “Holidays on Ice”
Ta-Nahesi Coates, “Between the World and Me”
Ann Patchett, “Truth and Beauty”
Lydia Davis, “The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis”
Joan Didion, “Self Respect”
Maxine Hong Kingston, “The Woman Warrior”
Oliver Sacks, “Gratitude”
Eula Biss, “Goodbye to All That”
Tom Walmsley, “Maxine”
Stephen Osborne, “Mr. Tube Steak and The Schoolteacher”
Cheryl Strayed, “The Love of My Life”
CD Wright, “By Jude Jean McCramack, Goddmanit to Hell Dog’s Foot”
Tobias Wolff,  “This Boy’s Life”
Jo Ann Beard,  “The Boys of My Youth”
Ryan van Meter, “If You Knew Then What I Know Now”
Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon, “Gender Failure”

Love in the Time of the Internet

University of British Columbia

ENGL 112: Love in the Time of the Internet, 11M, January 2020

Instructor: Gillian Jerome                                                

Email: gillian.jerome@ubc.ca                                                                            

Love in the Time of the Internet: How are digital technologies and their applications changing the ways we make relationships?

In this class the most important work we have to accomplish is writing. To achieve this, we’re going to think and write about love—a fairly relevant subject. We’re not only going to think, read and write about love, but we’re going to think, read and write about how love might be experienced by your generation given how the technologies you’ve come of age with, such as the Internet, smart phones and digital applications, have influenced the way we think, behave and make relationships.

To this end, we’ll read the work of key scholars from a variety of disciplines who have written about love, scholars like Alain de Botton, bell hooks, James Baldwin, Helen Fisher, as well as others who have written about it tangentially, scholars like Sherry Turkle, Stephanie Coontz, Danah Boyd, Pamela England, Bergman et al. and others. What their work suggests is that the while love may be a fundamental human need, the way we practice and pursue it changes meaningfully depending on history, culture and technology. We’ll also read and think about how race, gender, sexuality and citizenship influence how we love, how we make relationships, as well as how we talk about how we make relationships: the dominant cultural discourses on love. As we move through our readings, we’ll consider how the distinct features and practices of the Millennial/Gen Z generation—those of you born into the age of neoliberal globalization and who might have more access to digital technologies than any other generation—influence how you relate to others and yourselves. Most of you—not all of you!— came of age with texting, sexting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Internet porn, and on-line dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, among other kinds of digital applications. How have these technologies and their applications influenced the ways we relate to each other? How have they influenced our relationships? How do they shape the ways we love?

Although we’ll bring generational focus to our conversations on love, our readings may also prompt some bigger metaphysical questions. What is love? How important is love to human experience? What does it mean truly love another? How might we expand our ideas about love and rethink what kinds of relationships are even possible? How do we figure out, given the messy demands and problems of our historical moment, how to love well? And how might we leverage our capacity to love to address the particular political challenges of the 21st century?

Over the next few weeks you’ll be asked to respond to the subject of love both personally and academically. In the first part of the course we’ll focus on learning how to write clear and powerful arguments. You’ll respond critically to the ideas of other writers and academics which involves the courageous and clear formulation of your own ideas. Finally, in the second half of the course, you’ll learn how to write a research paper by reading, summarizing and responding to the work of others, and then building your own claims.

Community Building in Canadian Literature

ENGL 222 003

2020 Winter term, T/Th, 11 to 12:30 p.m.

Classroom: Buchanan B210

 

Gillian Jerome

Email: gillian.jerome@ubc.ca

 

Introduction to Canadian Literature

The mythology of Canadian multiculturalism suggests that we’re a nation of diverse communities who co-exist peacefully in an atmosphere of acceptance and celebration. What do these novels and poems have to say about this myth and about who struggles, individually and collectively, to feel a sense of belonging and why? What fosters a sense of belonging in the lives of these characters? What perpetuates a sense of alterity and alienation? We’ll think about these questions as we read these texts closely in the context of Canadian history and contemporary society, your own personal experiences and broader critical perspectives. At every step of the way, you’ll be invited to ask rich and provocative questions about the texts and develop independent critical responses via close reading and research. Lively engagement is a basic requirement. You will be asked to curate a seminar discussion, and write a close reading, a research paper and a final exam in this course. Texts are likely to include A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, David Chariandy’s Brother, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s Islands of Decolonial Love as well as selected poems.

Requirements:

  • Participation (including seminar discussion, due dates vary) (15%)
  • Short Close Reading (20%) due Feb 4
  • Research Proposal (10%) due Feb 21
  • Research Paper (30%) due last day of class
  • Exam (25%)

Texts:

A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki

Brother by David Chariandy

Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Essays and poems posted to Canvas

Teaching Philosophy and Course Proceedings:

In the first part of this course, we’ll focus on the fundamentals of reading literature and “Canadian” literature—what is “Canadian literature” anyway? What do particular stories, books, poems that we’ll read together have to say about community building in Canada and ways in which people are included and excluded? Who counts as “Canadian”? Who is in, who’s out and which factors at play in making these distinctions?

We’ll explore these questions at the same time that the texts we’ll read together will ask us, in some ways, to relearn how to read this literature given issues connected to philosophy, cultural context, history, political ideology, literary periods and ideologies, etc. We’ll practice reading literature closely but also deeply and with complexity and nuance according to what the texts ask of us.  

Love, Interrupted

ENGL 224 002

2020 Winter term, MWF, 11 to noon

Gillian Jerome

Email: gillian.jerome@ubc.ca     

 Introduction to World Literature

 This introductory world literature course will examine how four writers tell stories of love interrupted by systems of oppression and other human failures. How is it that particular stories circulate beyond their countries of publication? What do we have to gain by looking at how writers from different parts of the world address a topic that belongs, in some way, to us all? What are the necessary fictions we create for ourselves to survive despite our own limitations, despite the ravages of the world?  We’ll consider these questions and others as we read The Private Lives of Trees by Alejandro Zambra, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Lover by Marguerite Duras and Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.

Requirements:

  • Participation (including seminar discussion) (15%)
  • Short Close Reading (20%)
  • Research Proposal (10%)
  • Research Paper (30%)
  • Exam (25%)

Texts:

The Prviate Lives of Trees by Alejandro Zambra

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Lover by Marguerite Duras

Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

A bunch of essays and poems posted to Canvas

 

Teaching Philosophy and Course Proceedings:

In the first part of this course, we’ll focus on the fundamentals of reading literature and “world” literature—what is “world literature” anyway? Why do particular stories, books, poems travel beyond their countries or even continents? What do we have to gain by reading—and perhaps reading widely—outside of our nation state? We’ll explore these questions at the same time that the texts we’ll read together will ask us, in some ways, to relearn how to read the literature before us given issues connected to language, cultural context, history, political ideology, literary periods and ideologies, etc. We’ll practice reading literature closely but also deeply and with complexity and nuance according to what the texts ask of us.