How and Why I Sort-of Consider a Building to be One of my Role Models

A Screenplay by Manu Cornick Fernández

Click the fullscreen “x” icon below to read Manu’s screenplay:

Author Interview – Manu Cornick Fernandez

Q: Please introduce yourself: What is your preferred name, pronouns, and major(s)/minor(s)?

A: My name is Manuela Cornick Fernández, but I go by Manu. I use she/her/hers pronouns and I´m a BFA Acting major.

Q: What inspired you to write about El Museo de los Niños?

A: Very honestly, it was simply a prompt in English class. We were asked to write about the importance of places and memory and given that I had recently worked at El Museo it was the first thing I thought about.

Q: What would you like Phoenix Rhetorix readers to remember about your piece after reading it?

A: I am not a screenplay writer! This was my first time attempting it so it may be a little janky.

Q: How do you see your piece contributing to Elon’s ongoing conversations regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion?

A: Well, just the fact that it is written by a queer, Latina, international student is already contributing to that. It may not be explicitly about diversity, equity, and inclusion, but having my work highlighted is I guess an act of inclusion? More of our stories need to be heard, even if they’re not directly addressing the ways in which us minorities are oppressed and whatnot: we have stories just like everyone else and not everything needs to be political and tragic and all that jazz.

Q: What writing and/or research skills did you develop in completing this piece?

A: I learned a little about how to write screenplays! It was mostly just googling examples of screenplays and using audition sides as reference.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are currently enrolled in ENG 1100, might want to complete a similar project, or are interested in publishing in Phoenix Rhetorix?

A: Write what you want and how you want. Not what you think your teacher wants you to write. I went completely out of the box by deciding to write a screenplay rather than an essay and badabing badaboom look at where it got me!

ENG1100 Faculty Interview – Kathleen Crosby

Q: During your ENG 1100 class, what about Manu’s piece stood out to you?

A: Manu’s piece captures what may be ineffable to put down in words: the tenuous nature of the past and the present, of history and memory, of who we have been and who we can become. She took a simple (well, maybe not that simple) prompt of analyzing a place with a layered history, a place that embodied both history and memory, and created a text that by its very form invokes that layered history. There’s this word–palimpsest–used for texts that bear traces of what has come before; Manu’s text does that with her site of memory.

Q: How did this piece evolve as Manu completed this course assignment?

A: Manu originally envisioned her project as a performance–with spoken text, video images, and the like. It became the screenplay. However, I think the text of the screenplay alone–the dialogue, the stage directions, the commentary–allows us to imagine that visual world that Manu wished to construct. She has created that visual world–but with words alone.

Q: What was the most rewarding part of working with Manu on this project?

A: Manu’s project is one of possibility. It would be easy to imagine taking the original prompt and crafting a traditional essay. Instead, her work allows us to broaden our concept of what the work of texts and different genres can do. Through her project, Manu lets us see that our definitions of form can–and should–stretch.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are currently enrolled in ENG 1100, might want to complete a similar project, or are interested in publishing in Phoenix Rhetorix?

A: It is easy to think that writing should look a certain way; the challenge is allowing yourself to figure out what writing can be. Who are you? What do you want to say? If I could offer advice to a student in ENG 1100, or any writer in general, I would say your voice, your story, is yours alone. Share it.