The Power of “We”

From faculty member Judy Doenges’ 2009 residency lecture, “We Are the One: The First-Person Plural in Fiction”:

I happen to think that any point of view in fiction is political in some sense. At least in the sense that it sets up what amounts to a kind of intellectual, aesthetic and even social contract among characters, reader, and author. Point of view is a kind of meta-relationship that exists off the page in some sense. Reader and character meet as equals. [ …] I don’t think contemporary fiction writers can or should speak for a nation, a city, or a generation. Doing so would be presumptuous, perhaps detrimental to the work. […] The we is finally who each of us is in relation to the fictional character that teaches us, guides us and inspires us.  So go our real lives in which we try to bond with the like and the not so like minded, the non-fiction characters who also inform who we are. It’s that chosen we that gives us power. Our truly political we is still elusive, which is a very good thing.

Judy is the author of The Most Beautiful Girl in the World (2006, University of Michigan Press).  This lecture is available for purchase from the MFA Program website.

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