Lisa   Schamess

  • Title / Position: Adjunct Professor, Composition
  • Organization: Trinity University
  • Website:

I am a writer, reader, and "spy in the academy"--a late MFA now teaching composition. I believe that language is a democratic collaboration as tough and alive as an umbilicus--and as likely to choke its intended beneficiary if the delivery is botched by bad circumstances or clumsy maneuvers. As this is an unconference, I feel comfortable confessing that I am an unteacher, to the extent that the system of grading, norming, and benchmarks allows (which isn't very much).

I published my first novel in 2002 (Borrowed Light, SMU Press), and am at work on two very different books: a memoir of grief and a great sprawling indescribable fiction that pays tribute to Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Marvin Gaye, the extinct Passenger Pigeon, flea markets, and street-cleaning technologies in Washington, D.C.

I am in the early stages of an ambitious third project that seeks to explore the liminal space between these two books. Originally an open studio project I provided at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the project I call House of Memory/Memory Chowdah seeks to make performative and collaborative two singularly private and ultimately social activities: grieving and composition. I half-jokingly call this project "performance rhetoric."

I sort of like Slavoj Žižek, actually. Am I disqualified?

Recent publications: forthcoming: L'O de Vie, a Palimpsest. An essay comparing Chaucer's Physician's Tale and Histoire d'O. Forthcoming in Dark Chaucer (punctum books)

"In a Disorder on Purpose: The Diary and the Status Feed (on Samuel Pepys in the Digital Age," In Creative Nonfiction, Issue 42, Summer 2011,

"10 Ways of Looking at S&H Green Stamps," in Defunct Magazine, Spring 2011, "What the Body is Saying," in Grace and Gravity: An Anthology of Washington Women Writers, ed. Richard Peabody personal blog: CheapBohemian,

  • Hiding in Plain Sight


    photo of a footprintFollow this link to see the question key and results of the THATCamp 2012 Zen Scavenger Hunt. Assembly and presentations took  place at 3:30 today. The slide show is rough but the images are cool, and we had a blast doing it.

  • THATCamp for Kids


    We are attending with our 13-year-old, who loves writing and digital photography. I’d like to know who else is bringing kids this year, and how we might engage them? Because of Mona’s schedule, we will be late or no-show (sadly) at the Friday sessions. Maybe we can meet up with other families w/kids at the dinner that evening?

    I am a writer and writing teacher, and would be happy to host a creative writing workshop in the afternoon for any kids who want to get together to write. In particular (or instead), I am really intrigued by the possibilities for the Zen Scavenger Hunt described here. That seems like it’d be great for any age participant. I don’t know the UVa campus all that well, so I’d like to run it with someone who is more familiar with the surroundings. It is the kind of thing the kids and other participants can engage in all day (since there is no list until later), then gather in the afternoon or early evening before dinner to compare notes.

    We could run this as a regular scavenger hunt instead, with a fairly general list that stimulates creativity (“an object that fits in your hand,” “something red,” “something that was once alive,”) and/or have kids document with cameras, pen & paper, maps, and phones in case there is concern about collecting actual things (might get out of hand :-)…Would love to hear thoughts about how to put something together that is fun and flexible for families and younger participants to do.

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