Konsmo, Michael Jonathan
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Beginning writers in Montana, especially students enrolled in composition courses at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, can benefit from a curriculum that connects the act of writing to the place each person is from. Place occurs wherever people interact with landscape. Interaction is defined broadly, and can take the form of many activities, most importantly to this study, interaction takes on the form of writing. Place is embodied in the works of many of Montana's finest authors of literature, especially Wallace Stegner, Norman Maclean, Ivan Doig, Jim Harrison, Thomas McGuane and James Welch. These authors craft place both by creating characters who interact with the Montana landscape as well as re-acquaint themselves with their pasts in this landscape through the act of their writing. Building upon their examples, the first method of adapting place to the coursework for the beginning writer is to encourage students to craft place narratives of their own to answer two important questions ₁ who are you and where are you from? The second method of adapting place to the classroom is to ask students to respond to other place narratives, much like a film responds to the best or favored elements of a written work when it adapts literature to the screen, just as Robert Redford accomplished in his 1992 adaptation of A River Runs Through It. The results of adapting place in these two ways eases beginning writers into college level critical thinking and writing, preparing them for more specialized writing. Indeed, students who have an opportunity to discover and question the memories associated with their place have a stronger sense of personal identity as well as a powerful foundation of sophisticated and practical reading, writing, and thinking skills.