Thursday, May 22, 2008

"I have nothing to say about this world."

The latest story by Yiyun Li, published in The New Yorker a few weeks ago, introduces literature in a timely manner. Fashion magazines, philosophy, online chatting, and painting are all drawn into an interpenetrating skein of media, yet all under the methodical structure of straightforward narrative. It would be interesting to teach this story by way of the various media forms that orbit around -- and at times intersect -- the interior world of the main character, Teacher Fei. One can imagine an assignment that might ask students to consider how this 'story' manages different forms of media. In the story, which media forms does narrative defer to? What media forms strive to mimic or tap into narrative? How does narrative allow for medial blindspots? Such questions might nudge students toward thinking about literature in the context of new media.