ENGL-179 American Women's Autobiography
Fall for 2015-2016
This course investigates the notoriously devious genre of autobiography. Among the many questions we’ll be considering this semester are the following:
--What distinguishes autobiography from fiction?
--Does it matter if a subject tells the truth in her autobiography?
--Do men and women tell their stories differently and is it liberating or damaging to argue for gender difference in writing?
--Can women ever really write their lives truthfully through autobiography if it is, as many scholars argue, an inherently male genre? Are there really such things as “women’s autobiographies”?
--Why is autobiography such an enormously popular genre at this moment?
--What, if anything, about the language and worldview of these autobiographies makes them distinctively American?
--Is the self perceived or created through writing?
In an attempt to arrive at some answers to these questions, we’ll be reading a wide selection of American women’s autobiographies throughout the twentieth century. Students will also write their own five page autobiographical essay and a five-page critique of that essay-writing experience. In addition, each student will participate in three different groups: an autobiographical essay reading group, a group that will lead class discussion of one of the assigned texts, and a final project group that will read, discuss, and present insights about autobiographies not assigned in the course.
Other academic years
There is information about this course number in other academic years: