129: Rhetoric of Autobiography
In the modern era, the term “autobiography” emerged within literary studies to refer to a written narrative genre, that of an account of a person’s life written by that person. How coherent is this concept, either as a historical category or as a means of describing how a person might give an account of himself today? What relation, if any, does the rhetorical act of ‘giving an account of oneself’ bear to the genre of autobiography as we know it? In this course we will explore aspects of theme and form in autobiographical texts, in an attempt to address these and related questions.
There will be three paper assignments: one 3-5 pp, one 6-8 pp, and one final paper of 10-12 pp. This last will count as the final exam.
(There will also be some shorter readings posted on bspace):
- Augustine, Confessions, tr. Chadwick, ISBN 978-0199537822
- Rousseau, Confessions, tr. Cohen, ISBN 978-0140440331
- Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, ed. Blight, ISBN 978-0312257378
- Richard Wright, Black Boy, ISBN 978-0061443084
- Maxing Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, ISBN, 978-0679721888
- Joan Didion, Where I Was From, ISBN 978-0679752868
- Roland Barthes, Roland Barthes, tr. Howard, ISBN 978-0374251468
- Luc Sante, The Factory of Facts, ISBN 978-0679746508
- Nan Goldin, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, ISBN 978-0893813390