Ulmer Riff: Recipe

My class is progressing with our mystories. In an effort to help them grasp Ulmer's approach to relay and imitation, I crafted what I call the recipe assignment. Its inspired by a visit from poet Robert Pinsky this past Spring; in response to a question on how a young poet can improve her skills, Pinksy advised: "learn to read like a good cook eats." Its not just about savoring the flavor, but about tasting the technique. Beyond understanding what something is, its about tracing how something becomes.

Ulmer uses a number of examples in his chapters, what he calls relays. Along the lines of classical and neo-classical imitation, these relays provide models for approaching the larger assignments. I've asked my students to break into groups. Each group is required to take one of Ulmer's extended quotations and re-mix it into a recipe, distinguishing ingredients, equipment, time, and step-by-step directions.

Judging by the temperature of the room, it seems to be going well.


Casey said...

I like the idea of more imitation for contemporary students...

Insignificant Wrangler said...

I think the trick is to find ways to creatively frame imitation. I think this is why I enjoy Bravo shows like Work of Art, Project Runway, and Top Chef. They me give interesting ways to think about assignments.