Summer 2019: Not Knowing


Summer 2019: Not Knowing


8 in stock


June 1, 2019
9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Class meets at Literary Arts, 925 SW Washington.
Instructor: Quinn Gancedo
For writers at all levels
Limited to 10 students

We tend to think of the poem, essay, or story as a device that delivers knowledge, wisdom, or moral insight and the writer as a kind of expert, who, with tremendous skill and full intention, inscribes those messages on the page. In contrast, Donald Barthelme defines the writer as “one who, embarking on a task, does not know what to do”. This class takes Barthelme’s definition as its starting point and is designed to give students experience in writing without any predetermined outcome in mind–in writing with an eye towards uncertainty, chance, experiment, play, and discovery. We will begin by reading Barthelme’s essay “Not-Knowing” and “The Balloon”. Then, we will pair John Keats’ concept of “negative capability” with Richard Hugo’s notion of the “triggering subject”. From there we will move on to readings and exercises that highlight the material and formal possibilities of playing with language. By the end of the day each student will have started a small portfolio of wild, inventive, and highly idiosyncratic writing.

Quinn Gancedo is a writer and educator originally from Los Angeles. He has taught writing at the California Institute of the Arts and in various community arts settings. In 2017 he was an artist-in-residence at the REEF in Downtown LA. Quinn’s fiction and poetry can be found in Diagram, Tammy, 3:AM, Potluck Mag, and elsewhere.

SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE: Scholarships pay for the entire class tuition. All of our writing classes have at least one scholarship position available, made possible by a generous gift from Dennis Steinman. To apply, email Susan Moore, Director of Programs for Writers, at with your name, contact information, and list three classes in order of preference. Please note that preference is not guaranteed. All scholarships are subject to availability.

CLASS LIAISONS: All classes have one liaison position. Liaisons receive free tuition in exchange for light duties before and after each class meeting.