January 10, 17 and 24, 2024
7:00 pm (Eastern Time)

Literature Through an Ignatian Lens: A Three-Week Workshop on Reading and Writing as Spiritual Practices

Jan. 10, 17 & 24 | 7-8 pm ET / 4-5 pm PT
Class size: limited to 15 students
Cost: $60

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

–John 1:1

“Literature was born not the day when a boy crying wolf, wolf came running out of the Neanderthal valley with a big gray wolf at his heels: literature was born on the day when a boy came crying wolf, wolf and there was no wolf behind him. That the poor little fellow because he lied too often was finally eaten up by a real beast is quite incidental. But here is what is important. Between the wolf in the tall grass and the wolf in the tall story there is a shimmering go-between. That go-between, that prism, is the art of literature.

–Vladimir Nabokov

Course Overview

Our faith is built upon language and story, the Word made flesh, sacred stories passed down for generations. This makes literature, the expression of human experience in written form, an especially rich place to meet God.

In this workshop we will approach the written word, both in reading and in writing, through the richness of the Ignatian spiritual tradition, which calls us to find God in all things, to celebrate the intimate details of life and language, and to engage our imaginations in our creative and spiritual practices.

We will read one essay and three short stories and discuss them together within the overlapping framework of literary principle and spiritual practice. Students will complete three writing exercises that will be shared with the class on the Wet Ink platform for discussion.

Because the goal of the workshop is to develop and hone spiritual practices of reading and writing, we will not engage in academic critique, but rather will seek to learn from one another and our unique perspectives and experiences.

Readings and Materials

There are no books to buy or materials to purchase. All coursework will be provided and posted through the Wet Ink platform.

Course Schedule

Week 1:

Topic: Nabokov and Attention
Readings: Vladimir Nabokov, “Good Readers and Good Writers”; Valdimir Nabokov, “A Guide to Berlin”
Exercise: Small-scale guide to a place in your life

Week 2:

Topic: Tolstoy and Defamiliarization
Readings: Lev Tolstoy, “Kholstomer”
Exercise: Defamiliarized narrative (from human or non-human perspective)

Week 3:

Topic: Chekhov and Writing Ourselves into Holy Stories
Readings: Anton Chekhov, “The Student”
Exercise: Write yourself into a Gospel passage

About the Instructor

Cameron Bellm is a Seattle-based writer and retreat leader. After completing her Ph.D. in Russian literature at UC Berkeley, she traded the academic life for the contemplative life, combining her love of language with a deeply-rooted spirituality. Her poems, prayers and prose can be found at the intersection of mysticism and activism, linking our modern lives with our ancient faith.

Cameron’s work has been featured in America Magazine, National Catholic Reporter, Geez Magazine,Red Letter Christians and Catholic Women Preach. She writes regularly for the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States and is the author of “A Consoling Embrace: Prayers for a Time of Pandemic” and “No Unlikely Saints: A Mental Health Pilgrimage with Sacred Company.”

Assigned Reading

The instructor will provide links to the assigned reading material; you will not need to buy any books for this class.

Online Course Structure

The class will meet for three one-hour sessions on Zoom (January 10, 17 and 24). Readings and discussion questions will be provided one week in advance of each meeting on the Wet Ink platform.

There will be a writing exercise for each week of the course, also posted in advance. Students will be able to view each other’s writing exercises on Wet Ink to prepare for discussion.

A word on feedback: The goal of this workshop is to develop a spiritual reading and writing practice, not necessarily to give or receive feedback or criticism in an academic manner. We are here to learn from one another, to see the world through each other’s unique lenses, not to critique one another’s work.

About Wet Ink

Wet Ink was designed specifically for online writing classes. Wet Ink is private, easy to use and interactive. Learn more about Wet Ink by watching a class demo.

Questions?

If you’re interested in the course but the enrollment fee poses a financial hardship, email Mike Jordan Laskey at jccucommunications@jesuits.org. You can also email Mike with any general questions about the course.

Register for this Event

The "Literature Through an Ignatian Lens: A Three-Week Workshop on Reading and Writing as Spiritual Practices" course is full.

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