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Workshop by Writer-in-Residence ─ First Person Plural, Storytelling by The Collective ‘We’

駐校作家工作坊 ─ 第一身眾數 ─ 用「集體的我」作為故事敘述者 (英語主講)

Date: 15 March 2017 (Wed)
Time: 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Venue: LKK201, Leung Kau Kui Building, Lingnan University
Language: English
Co-organiser: Department of English
ILP unit(s): 1.5 (Aesthetic Development)
Writer: Ms Sreedhevi Iyer (Writer-in-Residence at Lingnan University)


The traditional point of view in the history of narrative has been around the first person singular and third person singular. John Gardner in The Art of Fiction barely mentions the first person plural, or the ‘town’ point of view. Even so, from traditions of the Greek chorus to the Israeli narratives regarding Passover to ‘A Rose for Emily’ by William Faulkner, the first person plural has sustained itself as a perspective of collective narrativity. Jeffrey Eugenides uses first person plural in The Virgin Suicides to give a sense of overall feminine agency. Closer to home, Ha Jin uses the ‘we’ in The Woman from New York to exhibit a sense of strangeness at encountering the other. Many writers, from different times and places, have over the years utilised the first person plural to showcase a narrative that decenters the individual, for the purpose of amplifying other aspects of the narrative.

In this workshop, we will unpack some of these stories in terms of the employment of the first person plural as a craft choice, and discuss how effective – or ineffective! – such a choice might be in conveying a story. There will also be in-class exercises that engage in writing stories from the first person plural point of view, so come prepared with ideas. What collective entities can tell stories? A village? A town? A city? A group of people with a specific identity – maybe a group of Filipino maids who make joint plans every Sunday? Maybe Hong Kong asking for independence? Maybe a specific private group on social media? Think about it. Any specific collection of identities can be made into a ‘we’, if you know what you want to achieve in your story.


About Sreedhevi Iyer
Sreedhevi Iyer has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her literary work. Her work has appeared in Hotel Amerika, Drunken Boat, Asian American Literary Review, Ginosko Literary Journal, Two Thirds North (Stockholm), Free Word Centre (UK) , Asia Literary Review, Everything About Us and more. She has also guest edited Drunken Boat's Hong Kong Special Folio and Cha: An Asian Literary Journal's March 2016 issue.