Genres: Life Stories (online)

English 4100/7100
Semester
Fall
Year
2020
Maureen Konkle
Monday
Wednesday
Friday
12-12:50pm
Online
Course Description

How do you tell the story of your life? What do you include and what do you leave out? How do you present yourself to the world, especially when you belong to a group that is consistently misrepresented? This course looks at the genres of autobiography and memoir in the U.S. from the later nineteenth century through the present, emphasizing how the various writers shaped their lives in print and with special attention to writers who used these forms to tell stories that would not ordinarily make it into print with such force and immediacy. We'll look at the social, political, and cultural forces that gave rise to autobiography and especially memoir in the period, and the connections between these two genres to biography on the one hand and the novel on the other. Our reading will range from classic autobiographies by Frederick Douglass, U.S. Grant, and Zora Neale Hurston to contemporary memoir (and memoir hybrids) by David Treuer (Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life, 2012), Sarah Broom (The Yellow House: A Memoir, 2019), and Patti Smith (Just Kids, 2010). Assignments include two essays, two tests, and a presentation.  English department diversity credit.