YOUNG WRITERS MENTOR
Literature & Theater Teacher
École Internationale Bilingue
The Victor Hugo School, Paris
Exploring literature and creativity at the EIB Victor Hugo, Paris.
Literary analysis, close reading, literary criticism, discussion and presentation; though all big words that require much more than a minimum of intellectual effort to put into proper practice, this daunting list is literally all in a days work for any literature high school student worth his or her salt. Students practice for hours, reading and writing with skill and rigour to master the art of unravelling, interpreting and sharing their most precise of arguments and observations on the literary greats of past centuries and contemporary writers. Yet, though our students rise to this challenge with passion and commitment, they are always in danger of falling into a very natural trap all young ambitious minds are susceptible to experience. After spending hours of reading and analysing a literary text, and on most occasions becoming quite fascinated by the ingenuity of the writing, the creative strategies and methods with which writers and poets employ language and words so effectively, students tend to forget or lose sight of the fact that these literary giants were and are human beings of flesh and blood, with families and friends, pains and desires, and challenges and difficulties like all the rest of us. Even though some texts might seem so perfect, resonating both emotionally and intellectually at such a universal level beyond the scope of their own day and age that we might be forgiven for imagining how they might have been produced by some divine mind, there's actually much more hope and promise to be found in the notion that this beauty has in fact been created by other people, sometimes even other contemporaries we may meet and have a coffee with.
It is for this very reason, to somehow explore new possibilities for engaging with the very human reality of literary creation, that in our school at EIB Victor Hugo, we're experimenting with a creative literary approach to literature in parallel with the more conventional analytical and discursive methodologies all literature students should be familiar with. As part of their coursework students are tasked with presenting their own understanding of a writer's work or influences or motivations through their own creative writing. Based upon the knowledge already gained through research and analysis the student is given free reign to build a new personal perspective on this particular writer by producing an original work of fiction or poetry that brings the student to another level of understanding, a more creative and hopefully more personal awareness to who was or is this writer and how come this work has the strength or beauty or meaning that it does. The students may write creative works that are inspired by the work of their writers or poets of choice, they may write fictional memoirs or narratives that would involve the writers themselves or even adapt historical documents or publications into new forms or genres. This form of creative engagement not only gives the students a novel experience for using research and analysis in a creative initiative rather than a strictly academic context, but also helps in fostering an open and embracing attitude towards literature and writing, where even the greatest of literary masterpieces are perceived as not something divine or holy or alien but as very human creative products crafted by beautiful people that have given the world beautiful work.
IB English A Literature