129AC | CCN: 40969

American Autobiography

Individualism and American Autobiography

Instructor: Michael Mascuch,

4 Units

This course of the rhetoric of autobiography is intended to fulfill the American Cultures Breadth Requirement. Its basic purpose is to introduce students to American autobiography and American cultures by means of exploring how representations of personal experience by writers of diverse cultural groups respond to or are otherwise informed by the American rhetoric of individualism. We will begin with a general, critical discussion of "individualism" as an ideology and of "autobiography" as a literary genre that performs a specific rhetorical function for Americans, and then move on to explore the complex relationship between genre and ideology in American cultures through rhetorical analysis of particular autobiographies. We will examine a series of primary works drawn from three distinct American cultures: African Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans, to consider how these texts address the imperatives of ideology and genre.