Winter Craft Intensive: Eraldo Souza dos Santos


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Editor's Note

Meaning and Depth: Writing Beyond the Dominant Gaze with Eraldo Souza dos Santos
Saturday, March 2nd
10 AM  – 1 PM PST / 1 – 4 PM EST

“I have had reviews in the past that have accused me of not writing about white people,” Toni Morrison recalled in a 1998 interview with Charlie Rose. “I remember a review of Sula in which the reviewer said, ‘One day, she,’ meaning me, ‘will have to face up to the real responsibilities, and get mature, and write about the real confrontation for Black people, which is white people.’ As though our lives have no meaning and no depth without the white gaze. (…) I have spent my entire writing life trying to make sure that the white gaze was not the dominant one in any of my books.”

The white gaze, a term popularized by Morrison, designates the assumption that the default audience of a literary work is, or must be, white. It is not uncommon in this regard, as Morrison suggested in the same interview, for nonwhite writers to read works where you can “feel the address of the narrator over my shoulder talking to somebody else. Talking to somebody white. I could tell because they were explaining things that they didn’t have to explain if they were talking to me.”

Combining the discussion of literary works and in-class writing exercises, this Craft Intensive is designed to help writers of all experience levels who wish to write beyond the white—and/or the American, Eurocentric, heteronormative, cisnormative, etc., in a word, dominant—gaze. We’ll explore together how to align your intent and your work on the page, how to define the audience for your literary projects, and how to navigate the expectations of the publishing industry.


The scholarship for this intensive has already been awarded.

BIO: A 2022 LARB Publishing Fellow, Eraldo Souza dos Santos is a Brazilian writer currently based between Paris and São Paulo. His first novel, to be published in 2024, is an autobiography of his illiterate mother and a meditation on the lived experience of Blackness and enslavement in modern Brazil. At the age of seven, his mother was sold into slavery by her white foster sister. It was 1968—eighty years after the abolition of slavery in Brazil and four years into the anti-communist coup d’état, during the month in which the military overruled the Constitution by decree. By weaving in extensive archival research and interviews, the novel narrates their journey to Minas Gerais—where she was born—and Bahia—the Blackest state in Brazil, where she was enslaved on a farm for three years—to investigate why the family that enslaved her has never been brought to justice. It also narrates his grandmother’s journey to search for her missing daughter. In March 2023, he offered a masterclass based on his novel at the prestigious UEA Creative Writing Course. You can keep up with Eraldo on Twitter at @esdsantos.