ENG 364 F23: Non Fiction

MW 12:30-1:45, SAKAM C203

All of the Girls You Loved Before: Essays on Love, Sex, and Heartbreak

In this class, we will read essays and memoirs about girlhood, focusing on texts that take up the topics of love, sex, and heartbreak. Though girlhood—and these aspects of it—are frequently dismissed as being trivial, or even as “cringe,” we will push back against this sexist association by treating girl-ness, vulnerability, sadness, and tender feelings as valid objects inquiry. We will read and talk about topics such: as sex and consent (via writing by Melissa Febos); theories of love (via bell hooks); magic, the occult, and cultural appropriation (via Elissa Washuta); the ways that girlhood is racialized (via Joan Didion, Maggie Nelson, Akwaeke Emezi); queer and trans girlhood, love, and heartbreak (via Emerson Whitney, Maggie Nelson, Akwaeke Emezi); and how art and music can offer angles onto writing the self (via Larissa Pham, Joan Didion). We will also think about how contemporary girlhood is constructed through various genres and media, including social media and music.

Content note: readings and discussions will touch on themes of sexual violence.

Writing assignments will include weekly journal entries (options to do these in a creative format, such as hand-written, illustrated, via a blog, via an Instagram account), brief reflective essays inspired by our readings, and options for multi-media creative, and of course autobiographical, projects.

Possible Readings:

“primary” bell hooks, All About Love Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts Maggie Nelson, Bluets Melissa Febos, Girlhood Melissa Febos, Whip Smart Elissa Washuta, White Magic Akwaeke Emezi, Dear Senthuran Durga Chew-Bose, selected essays Larissa Pham, selected essays Joan Didion, selected essays Emerson Whitney, Heaven  

“secondary” selections from: Cameron Awkward-Rich, The Terrible We Hil Malatino, Side Affects Ann Cvetkovich, Depression Vivian Huang, Surface Relations