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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2017-18

COLT 39.01 Memoirs and the Work They Do

Memoir has been a popular genre in the United States, Latin America, Europe and elsewhere for at least the last twenty if not thirty years. That popularity does not seem to be abating, despite critics’ claims that most recent memoirs are shallow, repetitive and badly written.  In this course we will review some history of life writing forms to parse out misogyny and elitism.  We will also learn how experts today understand life writing subgenres in print and other media, paying particular attention to experimentation and the fuzzy line between fiction and non-fiction.  The focus of the course concerns how life writing is deployed in creating group identities, identities based on everything from addiction to victimhood, sexuality, ethnicity, and nationality.  Texts include Harriet Wilson, Our Nig, Coetzee's Boyhood,  Spiegelman's Maus, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Kacandes's Daddy's War, Modiano's Dora Bruder, Cho’s I’m the One that I Want, and Wen Ho Lee’s My Country Versus Me. Students will develop life story interviewing skills, including transcription skills, practice oral presentation, and do some writing (or create in another art form) about their own lives. Sharing of students’ knowledge of examples that bear on our topics from cultures other than those represented on the syllabus is strongly encouraged. Students are also encouraged to read a memoir in a language in which they are fluent other than English.



Distributive and/or World Culture

Dist:LIT; WCult:W

The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.