A long-overdue response to Maria Cotera’s Literati talk

Literati talk


Back in February, I attended Maria Cotera’s talk at Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor. This also happened to coincide with my first visit to Literati, and the bookstore’s cozy atmosphere seemed perfect for such author and writer talks.

Maria Cotera spent a good deal of time talking about her newest book and the thought-process behind the story, and while academic and non-fictional writing is not one of my interests, it was helpful to learn how heavy the burden of research weighs on many of these writers. Cotera touched briefly on the idea that as she learned more about the story she was trying to tell, the overall narrative and angle of the story changed as more information revealed itself. Interestingly enough, Cotera said that the result of letting the research shape the narrative and not sticking to a preconceived narrative transformed her story into something far more intriguing.

One of the most interesting questions of the evening was about academic and creative writing’s changing form. Maria Cotera seemed quite interested in the power of blogging…and this seemed, well, off. I felt like I was hearing someone in 2004 talk about blogging, and I must admit she failed to sway me into her proclamations that student blogging was the new work space and epicenter of innovation. I would argue that while blogging platforms offer a niche of the internet for easy storage and an easy-to-use format…this does not mean that the quality of these blogs is anything special…it’s now just public. In Ray’s class, we’ve discussed how blogging has quickly faded from relevancy, and I can’t say that any of Cotera’s points did a good enough job of lending credence to the blog supporters camp.

Still a very interesting talk, and I absolutely loved the atmosphere of Literati…I spent a few minutes browsing upstairs and plan on returning!

Question for anyone reading: Did you attend to the talk (I saw a few familiar faces)…if so, what did you think of Cotera’s thoughts on student blogging?

3 thoughts to “A long-overdue response to Maria Cotera’s Literati talk”

  1. Steven,

    I definitely agree with a lot of your points, especially with the idea that blogging platforms are a niche space in the grand scheme of the Internet. They are 100% culturally relevant in today’s world, yet I think time will prove blogs to be only a small part of the continued evolution of the Internet. One thing that I do think is important from Professor Cotera’s talk is that I feel like she represents a more modern, forward-thinking way of approaching teaching. Whether they like it or not, professors are being forced to become more tech-savvy and look at new ways of keeping the attention of their students. While blogging is but one tiny form of progression, it feels like most professors are trending away from the overhead projector, “old-school” way of teaching and into a more technologically dependent curriculum. Only time will tell if this strategy is actually beneficial for students, but her discussion definitely represents this new way of teaching and professing.

  2. I really wish that I could have went to the talk, but I had a prior commitment that day. I heard that she would be speaking about oral histories and that is relevant to my capstone project. That is interesting that she spoke of blogging in that manner since it is very niche. Now I need to make sure that I visit Literati.

  3. Hey Steve, first of all that’s a great photo of the back of my head! I also enjoyed the talk by Maria Cotera very much. I agree that I found her mention of the blogging process particularly interesting. Let’s suppose that I receive an assignment to explain Niccolo Machiavelli’s question of “whether it is better to be feared or loved?” If I were to write an essay about it, I would probably research books and cite scholars in my arguments. But, a blog post, is typically much more informal. A blog post also typically calls for a much more informal (even conversational) type of writing. Both assignments call for me to the learn the material, albeit, in a very different way so that I can present the topic effectively to the reader.

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