You can't teach memoir without introducing Patricia Hampl

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I never do teach the same thing twice, but that doesn't mean I forsake the classics in favor of novelty.  The one, single essay that I have carried forward into every memoir class is Patricia Hampl's "Memory and Imagination," found within I Could Tell You Stories.  You just don't teach memoir without it, or at least I don't.  These words, then, for today, from Hampl, as I head out into more snow (there's always snow, it seems, on teaching Tuesdays), for the University of Pennsylvania campus.
We seek a means of exchange, a language which will renew these ancient concerns and make them wholly, pulsingly ours.  Instinctively, we go to our store of private associations for our authority to speak of these weighty issues.  We find, in our details and broken, obscured images, the language of symbol.  Here memory impulsively reaches out and embraces imagination.  That is the resort to invention.  It isn't a lie, but an act of necessity, as the innate urge to locate truth always is. 


Beth F said...

I haven't read "Memory and Imagination" -- will eventually remedy that.

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