Monday, March 26, 2012

Prof. Coralynn Davis writes about storytelling in Nepal

Our first blog post!  Coralynn Davis, Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies and Anthropology, Director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program, and Mentor of Boston Posse #4,  tells us a bit about her book project and her writing process.

What writing project(s) are you working on right now?

I am working on a book project about women's storytelling in Nepal. The book examines the role of storytelling in contexts of cultural dissensus, especially in regard to the persistence of unsanctioned ways of understanding and acting upon reality. In a context where opportunities for self expression are suppressed in conjunction with a range of cultural constraints on women’s mobility and speech, as well as with broader forms of marginalization in the global fields of knowledge production and circulation, the book demonstrates that Maithil women tell their personal and collective truths through the vehicle of the folktale. The book offers an investigation of the complex ways in which agency, virtue and other key aspects of the human condition are constructed through the telling of Maithil women’s tales.
 What do you love about it?

The stories that Maithil women tell are incredibly complex -- sometimes sad, sometimes humorous, but always full of wisdom about their social and sacred worlds and about themselves.
What about it (if anything) is driving you nuts?

The most difficult thing is finding enough TIME to sustain focus on the project.
How would you describe your writing process?
Sometimes it's spotty, and sometimes I feel stuck, but I love the moments (sometimes minutes, sometimes days or weeks) when I am in the groove.

What kind of feedback on your writing do you find most helpful?

That depends. Sometimes I need someone to tell me whether the ideas make sense. Sometimes I need help figuring out how to say what I need to say in a chapter without it being 100 pages long. Sometimes I just need editing help. And finally, there are times when I just need a cheerleader or task master to keep me going.

What would you like your students to know about you as a writer?

Writing for me is one part creativity, one part organization, one part analytical insight, and one part perseverance!