With Daniel Altshuler and Polina Barskova

This course will explore how narratives live and die; how society can endanger them and bring them to fruition; how various environments, social and natural, influence production of language and narrative. Among these environments, we will look at writing in and about prison, concentration camps and environmental disaster, with special attention dedicated to the topics of censorship and language death, which we will treat as political and social environments of their own kind. We will ask questions like: (1) Why are narratives censored and why are so many languages dying? Who has a say in the matter and what can be done? (2) How does a censored narrative/dead language become uncensored/revitalized? Why is it often labeled “classic”/”exotic” by virtue of being found/revitalized? (3) Can and should we find extinct narratives/languages? (4) How and why does a human create narratives while knowing it will likely be censored and extinct?

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