Life Writing: Autobiography, Memoir, and the Diary: Life Writing: Modes and Forms of Writing the Self

Course Number
COML 5110 640
Course Code
Course Key
Ben-Amos, Batsheva
Primary Program
Course Description
The subject of this course is life writing and its genres of autobiography, autofiction, memoir, diary, and online diaries. Genre theory frames the discussions that focus upon time perspective, the construction of self, issues of truth and fiction, and the relations between private writing and public reading. The examination of these genres follow their literary-historical paths in their social contexts, tracing the transformation of religious confessions of men to secular autobiographies such as Jean Jacques Rousseau's (Confessions) and Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, and their expansion to the autobiographical writings of marginalized women, as Sally Morgan's hybrid text My Place. The study of the memoir follows the genre from its medieval traces to modern memoirs, (as Rachel Cusk's memoir Aftermath), their political utilization, and the influence of market shifts. For autofiction we shall examine Rachel Cusk's Outline (Compared to her memoir), and Natalia Ginzburg's Family Lexicon. In the history of the diary, the analysis focuses on the role of the early canonical diary,(As Samuel Pepys's diary) and their literary function in subsequent diary writings by men and women in times of war and peace, concluding with online diaries. The course assignments will consist of short writing assignments related to the readings, response to peers, one class presentation and a final paper. There will be no exams.
Subject Area Vocab