CRLS Students Make Their Lives The Experiment

CRLS Students Make Their Lives The Experiment
Posted on 04/24/2019
FizzaRecent years have seen the growth of a very particular kind of writing, variously called immersion journalism, experiential writing, or deliberate living. To write this brand of creative nonfiction the authors live differently for a period of time, immerse themselves in a new experience, and then write about their insights. In the Immersion Journalism class at CRLS, the students use their own lives as an experiment, wondering: what if we gave up our cell phones? Stopped looking in mirrors? Stopped complaining? Kept a gratitude journal? Abstained from sugar? Didn't swear? Made it a point to talk to strangers? Each experiment includes research on the topic as well as the personal endeavor, all accumulating thoughtful essays about these forays into deliberate living.

FabiA lot of great authors have taken the immersion journalism plunge: David Foster Wallace visited a baton-twirling competition at an Illinois State Fair, George Orwell worked deep in a coal mine, and A.J. Jacobs followed every rule in The Bible. Other recent examples are the movie Supersize Me, in which the writer/director Morgan Spurlock ate only McDonald’s for a month, or the book Nickled and Dimed, in which the author Barbara Ehrenreich worked a variety of low-wage jobs to experience the lives of the working poor. Another excellent example is Bill McKibben’s The Age of Missing Information, where he watched television for 24 hours, and then sat on top of a mountain for 24 hours, and compared the two.

Some might call it participatory writing, or intentional living experiments, or Thoreau in the city . . . call it what you want, we’re just happy to join the family.

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