This course will approach the study of narrative from the perspective of a specific technique or theme; it might explore narrative genres such as autobiography, memoir, letters, epistolary fiction, and oral narrative traditions.
Winter 2014: Kacandes (10A)
Memoirs and the Work They Do
Memoir has been a popular genre in the United States, Latin America and Europe for at least the last twenty years. That popularity does not seem to be abating, despite critics’ claims that most recent memoirs are shallow, repetitive and badly written. In this course we will review some of the history of life writing forms to parse out misogyny and elitism. We will also learn how experts today understand life writing subgenres in print and other media, paying particular attention to experimentation and the line between fiction and non-fiction. The focus of the course concerns how life writing is deployed in creating group identities, related to everything from addiction to victimhood, sexuality, ethnicity, and nationality. Texts include Coetzee's Boyhood, Spiegelman's Maus, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Kacandes's Daddy's War, Modiano's Dora Bruder, Cho’s I’m the One that I Want, and Consalvi's Broadcasting the Civil War in El Salvador. Students will be asked to interview another about her or his life, do some writing about their own lives and bring examples to bear on our various topics from other cultures and languages than those represented on the syllabus.
Last Updated: 3/22/13