ENGL-290 Women's Autobiography
Fall for 2011-2012
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.
Prerequisites: ENGL 040, 041, 042, or 043
Other academic years
There is information about this course number in other academic years: