Monday, March 8, 2021

Delaying the introduction of a writer like Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Anthology editors often present biographical sketches of authors before presenting the selections. Those of us who teach literature follow a similar pattern, presenting background information on writers before covering the short stories or poems. But in my online reading group this semester, I have presented students with stories by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, and I'm delaying an introduction of biographical information on her.

The reason waiting to highlight her as a writer stands out to me is how students have responded so far to the stories. They dove in and spoke of the characters and scenes without mentioning that a creative writer composed and presented the ideas. Their focus has been on “what happened,” not who created the stories.

If we were in a classroom discussing the works, I’m sure we would have mentioned Thompson-Spires as a writer. We would have said something about how and why she produced the works. That's not the case here.

So far, their responses have focused directly on prompts about the story, and they haven’t been inclined to talk about the creator. To their credit, the students have been absorbed by issues like Black identity politics and conflicts that emerge in the stories. I’ve enjoyed following along, and I’ve been moved to see them get lost in the stories, so to speak.

Soon though, I’ll pose questions about the writer behind the stories.


1 comment:

Jerry W. Ward, Jr. said...

Delaying the introduction allows the readers to respond to the stories without what I'd call the prejudiced filter of thinking one "knows" the author. The student comments you have shared to date have a wonderful, almost pristine quality.

J. W. Ward, Jr.