Melissa Febos, Craft of Nonfiction: In Defense of Navel Gazing

Heimbold Visual Arts Center Donnelley Film Theatre

Open to the public

/ Tuesday


How often have you heard another writer sneer at the concept of literary writing as cathartic or, God forbid, therapeutic? How often have you agreed? Too often we take for granted the false binary between the personal and the intellectual. A literary work's aesthetic or intellectual merit does not preclude catharsis, nor concerns of domestic, corporeal, or "confessional" nature. Why shouldn't a literary examination of the navel approach profound universalities, be intellectually astute, politically relevant, and aesthetically great? During this talk we will take a long hard look into our own navels, interrogate our own inherited biases and consider why "personal" writing might be exactly what we need right now.

Melissa Febos MFA '08 is the author of the memoir Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010), the essay collection Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017), and a forthcoming second essay collection, Girlhood (Bloomsbury 2020). The inaugural winner of the Jean Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary, her work has recently appeared in Tin House, Granta, The New York Times, Vogue, and The Believer. She is an Associate Professor and MFA Director at Monmouth University and lives in Brooklyn.