Risking the Heart:
Telling True Stories in an Age of Irony
November 4–8, 2010
Charleston, South Carolina
One thing all human beings share is the need for Story—it is as essential as the need for air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat. Whether we believe in a creator God or a random universe, we do not know ourselves without knowing our own story: where we are from, to whom we are related, what our trials and our triumphs have been.
But what happens when our sense of Story contracts? What happens to a culture when it believes it can become its own story, disconnected from history and the perennial questions—only to find that its self-absorption has led to a dead end? How can a media-saturated society that has become “distracted from distraction by distraction,” as T.S. Eliot put it, develop the patience and attention that good storytelling calls forth in its hearers? How can we move beyond the superficial connectedness of internet “social media” to regain the true sense of community and solidarity that the great narratives once generated? What happens when, as much of contemporary literature holds, we have no other story than the one we
create for ourselves?
Novelist Walker Percy, after winning the National Book Award for The Moviegoer, was asked why there were so many good Southern writers. He answered, “Because we lost the war.” In Charleston, South Carolina—a
Southern city wreathed in beauty and drenched in a history both noble and tragic—writer Bret Lott will lead us in discussions about how we might regain our connection to Story. In particular, we’ll focus on how literature can enable us to integrate the fragments of our selves by revealing the true Story of who we are.