Biomythography: Epic Fabulation, Fragmented Narratives

Saturday, May 28, 2022, 3–5pm

About the seminar

This is an in-person seminar and will take place at Wendy's Subway. Proof of vaccination and masks are required.

Date: Saturday, May 28, 2022
Time: 3-5 pm EST (2 hours) 
Capacity: 20 participants
Cost: Free
Register here.

She makes complete her duration. As others have made complete theirs: rendered incessant, obsessive myth, rendered immortal their acts without the leisure to examine whether the parts false the parts real according to History’s revision.

—Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee

Borrowing from Audre Lorde’s notion of “biomythography,” our fourth and final seminar is inspired by the first edition of the Quick and the Dead. As illustrated by Dictee, Cha’s work deconstructs the conventions of narrative and genre by blending Greco-Roman mythology, modern Korean history, and autobiography. We will discuss the role of lineage, autobiography, and classical literature in Cha’s writing and performance art, and explore the ways in which memory may function as a critical intervention in dominant narratives of history, identity, and nationhood. We observe the practices of critical fabulation (Saidiya Hartman), mythology, fragmentation, and bibliomancy to envision new strategies for writing the self.

This seminar is led by Mary-Kim Arnold, Alexander Chee, and Eunsong Kim, and includes opening reflections by guests, followed by a group discussion and writing exercise. Suggested readings will be shared in advance. 

About the speakers

Mary-Kim Arnold is a writer, artist, and teacher. She is the author of The Fish & The Dove (Noemi Press) and Litany for the Long Moment (Essay Press). Other writings have appeared in Hyperallergic, Conjunctions, The Denver Quarterly, The Georgia Review, and elsewhere. Mary-Kim teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program at Brown University. She is the recipient of a 2020 Howard Foundation Fellowship, the 2018 MacColl Johnson Fellowship, and the 2017 Fellowship in Fiction from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. She serves as Senior Editor for Collaborative & Cross-Disciplinary Texts at Tupelo Quarterly.

Alexander Chee is the author of the novels Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night, and the essay collection How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. He is the guest editor of the 2022 Best American Essays anthology, forthcoming in October 2022, a contributing editor at The New Republic and an editor at large at Virginia Quarterly Review. His essays and stories have appeared recently in The New York Times Book Review, T Magazine, The New Republic and Harper’s.
Chee is a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow in nonfiction and a 2021 United States Artist Fellow, and a recipient of the 2003 Whiting Award, a 2004 NEA Fellowship in prose, a 2010 MCCA Fellowship, and residency fellowships from MacDowell, the VCCA, and Civitella Ranieri. He teaches creative writing at Dartmouth College.

Eunsong Kim is an arts writer, poet, translator and an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Northeastern University. She is the author of gospel of regicide (2017), the co-translator with Sung Gi Kim of Kim Eon Hee’s Have You Been Feeling Blue These Days? (2019), and the forthcoming monograph, The Politics of Collecting: Property & Race in Aesthetic Formation (Duke University). She’s the recipient of the Ford Foundation Fellowship, Yale's Poynter Fellowship, and a grant from the Andy Warhol Art Writers Program. In 2021 she co-founded offshoot, an arts space for transnational activist conversations.

Graphic design by Claire Zhang
Image Credit: Untitled (Theresa's Last Work), c.1982; Photo courtesy of UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive


The Quick and the Dead is supported, in part, by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment from the Humanities, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and Poets & Writers through public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. 



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