Autobiography and American Individualism – Autobiography and Individualism in American Cultures
129AC 001 | CCN: 31239
Autobiography and Individualism in American Cultures
Instructor: Michael Mascuch
Location: Dwinelle 109
Date / Time: Mo/We/Fr 9:00am - 9:59am
This Rhetoric course is intended to fulfill the American Cultures Breadth Requirement. Its purpose is to introduce students to American autobiography and American cultures by 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 mode of discourse that performs a specific cultural function for Americans, and then move on to explore the complex relationship between discourse and ideology in American cultures through rhetorical analysis of particular autobiographies. We will examine a series of primary works drawn from three American racial & ethnic cultures: African Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans, to consider how these texts address the imperatives of ideology and cultural and social discourse.
Primary texts include: Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Ed. David W. Blight, 3nd paper edn. (New York: Bedford/: St. Martin’s Press, 2002); Richard Wright, Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth. Paper edn. (New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2008); Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts. Paper edn. (New York: Vintage Books, 1989); Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. Hardcover edn. (New York: Penguin Press, 2019); Black Hawk, The Life of Black Hawk. Paper edn. (New York: Penguin Classics, 2008); John G. Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks. Complete paper edn. (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2014)