Monday, November 16, 2009

The final assignment

for the class I've been teaching this semester on style:
In “Notes on ‘Camp,’” Sontag writes, “To snare a sensibility in words, especially one that is alive and powerful, one must be tentative and nimble. The form of jottings, rather than an essay (with its claim to a linear, consecutive argument), seemed more appropriate for getting down something of this particular fugitive sensibility.” Adopting the form or mode of “jottings” – other “jotters” we’ve read this semester include Barthes, Koestenbaum, Sante and to a lesser extent Sebald – write a piece called “Notes on Style.” The notes should be ordered by some principle – numbering, alphabetization by keyword – that is neither chronological nor obviously logic-or-argument-driven. You are welcome to use quotations from Austen, Flaubert, James, Proust, etc. as illustrations, but you are not obligated to do so; examples from other spheres are also welcome. Be as vivid and precise as possible, and include at least one original “maxim” or “aphorism” about style or one of style’s affiliates as a self-standing item in your list of jottings.