This course name and description ONLY applies to academic year 2016-2017

ENGL 13186-9: Autobiography & Subjectivity

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Instructor: Barbara Green

Life-writing is a capacious term that can be used to describe a variety of private and public statements about the self. Some of these are easily recognizable as artistic representations of subjectivity (for example, memoirs, diaries, letters, self-portraits) and some less so (for example, legal testimony, graphic novels, blogs, social media, even medical forms have been read as part of the complex project of articulating subjectivity). This course will attend to a wide variety of forms of life-writing in order to trace shifting notions of what counts as a self and track the complex project of defining and representing subjectivity. A broad range of critical approaches to subjectivity and definitions of the autobiographical project will assist us as we attempt to map changing notions of the self. Our materials will be drawn from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries: texts may include a selection of writings by Wordsworth and Mill, Art Spiegelman's graphic family memoir Maus, Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Virginia Woolf's “Sketch of the Past,” Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior, selections from Samuel Delany's The Motion of Light in Water, Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir Fun Home, selections from Knausgaard’s multi-volume My Struggle, photography by Cindy Sherman, Jo Spence and others, self-portraits by Frieda Kahlo, social media, political and legal testimony or "witnessing," and other examples of autobiography "at work" will also be considered. Requirements: participation, short written commentaries, one group presentation, and three essays (a mix of 5 page and 7-8 page essays).