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Saturday, October 6 • 10:35am - 12:00pm
I Feel Both Ways

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We feel ambivalent. About many things—personal, political, cultural—we feel more than one way. Often, these ways seem to contradict each other, or to cancel each other out. Then what’s left is a lazy hum. But the hum persists. And in its persistence, it becomes less lazy. It’s an earworm, it’s a generator. How might ambivalence be cast not as apathy but as engine?

Narrative prose provides an ideal site for investigating ambivalence as active simultaneity, as both/and, because it inherently always feels both ways, as it contends simultaneously with lived, embodied experience and represents that experience in language on the page. Formal and stylistic considerations—around syntax, proximity, layout, structure—can draw out these dualities without diluting or resolving them.

Ambivalence has a political valence as well. The blunt force of fascism comes without nuance. Politically activated ambivalence is not undone by complexity but views its frictions and multiplicities as power-generating. Intersectionality might be an ambivalent consideration of subjectivity; the split subject doubly, triply asserts herself.

Ambivalence figures differently and divergently in the work of the panelists: Jess Arndt’s subjects straining to be and not be in their bodies; Lucy Corin’s destabilizing narrative structures; Aisha Sabatini Sloan’s juxtapositions of potent cultural moments; Lily Hoang’s movement between animal and human, personal history and myth. Sara Jaffe will introduce and moderate. Together, we’ll work toward a collective understanding of ambivalence—on the page and in the now—that is as dynamic and irreducible as the term itself.

avatar for Sara Jaffe

Sara Jaffe

Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, Reed College
Sara Jaffe (moderator) is the author of the novel Dryland (Tin House, 2015). Her short fiction and criticism have appeared in publications including Catapult, Fence, BOMB, NOON, The Offing, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She co-edited The Art of Touring (Yeti, 2009), an anthology... Read More →


Lucy Corin

Lucy Corin is the author of the short story collections One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses (McSweeney’s Books) and The Entire Predicament (Tin House Books) as well as a novel, Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls (FC2). Writings have appeared in places like American... Read More →

Aisha Sabatini Sloan

Aisha Sabatini Sloan’s first essay collection, The Fluency of Light: Coming of Age in a Theater of Black and White, was published by the University of Iowa Press in 2013. Her most recent collection, Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit, was chosen by Maggie Nelson as the winner of the... Read More →

Saturday October 6, 2018 10:35am - 12:00pm EDT
118 DeBartolo Hall