Against Banality: An Investigation of the Everyday (WR 100)
The building blocks of our everyday reality may seem trivial, even meaningless: a wedge of lettuce, a Zippo lighter, children’s picture books, a pile of dirt, afternoon tea, injured bodies, snow, pork, a safety pin, demolished houses, Dr. Pepper, tarot cards, nail clippings, or a lake. This course aims to challenge the notion that our everyday lives—that ordinary objects, places, and events—are boring. By learning to cultivate a unique vision, the writer can transform boredom into spectacle, create intimacy with any audience, and speak to our common human condition.
Our first task as a class will be to develop a working definition of the banal. Is the everyday boring? Must it be? How actively can one engage with the everyday? After exploring some of the strategies essayists use to examine the banal and transform it into something intriguing, we will shift focus onto our own lives and writings. On and off-campus experiences will be used to deepen our investigations.
We will look at what is not often taken into account, what is often overlooked, and what is often deemed insignificant, deconstructing the everyday so that we can meet it anew on our own terms. In re-imagining the banal, we can hone our skills of observation, discover how our values and ideologies are represented in the mundanities we often disregard, and use that knowledge to advocate for change.
Prof. Laurence Ross received his MFA from the University of Alabama where he earned several awards for his teaching and served as the Creative Nonfiction Editor for Black Warrior Review. He has published his essays and reviews in literary journals such as Brevity, Hot Metal Bridge, Bluestem, and The Georgia Review as well as The Huffington Post. While living in New Orleans, Laurence Ross was a frequent contributor to Pelican Bomb, a regional publication dedicated to the Louisiana arts community. He also served as the Director of P.3Writes, a program in conjunction with U.S. Art Triennial Prospect New Orleans. Currently, Laurence Ross lives in Baltimore and teaches at Loyola University Maryland. He spends his summers as an Instructor of Creative Nonfiction for Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.
Introduction to Communication: How Does Technology Change Society? (CM 203)
How do writers translate the world they see into words? How does reading literature show us different worlds —or perhaps, help us see our own world anew? In this course, we will read poems, short stories, and graphic narratives that envision the world in a variety of ways, highlighting writers whose experiments with language have transformed the very nature of literature itself.
Jonathan Lillie, PhD, is an associate professor of digital media and online journalism at Loyola. He was a Park Doctoral Fellow in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research interests include online journalism, the cultural uses of Internet technologies, and the history of 'new' media.
Liliana “Lily” Castro joined Loyola in November 2016 as the Associate Director of Student Engagement. Lily is no stranger to Jesuit higher education as she previously spent three and a half years working in the Office of Residence Life & Housing at the College of the Holy Cross and earned her B.S. in Counseling & Human Services from the University of Scranton. Lily also received her M.S.Ed. in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania. There she worked as the graduate assistant at Penn's School of Nursing Office of Student Services where she advised the nursing student organizations. In her current role, Lily is responsible for all things related to the orientation program including the selection and development of the Evergreen orientation staff along with supporting first-year students through their college transition. Lily is very excited to join her Messina working team and engage with first-year students in the classroom setting.