ENG 302: Special Topics in Literature and Language: Life-Writing and Identity


Dr. Pennington 3 credits

          We live in a moment when autobiographies, memoirs, and biographies are best-sellers. This course will investigate why we find the writing and the reading of another person’s life story so compelling. After all, what is so seductive about encountering another self through narrative? For that matter, who or what is a “self?” And how do we experience this identity through language? Looking at several forms of life-writing—including prose autobiography, graphic memoir, and fictional autobiography—this course will explore the ways in which a life finds structure and meaning through narrative language. From Rousseau’s scandalous Confessions to Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, we’ll ask why writers might choose auto/biographical forms, and what readers expect (or desire) from these works of the self. This course seeks to understand the complex relationships among fact, fiction, and “truth”; and individuality, sociability, and otherness across a historically and structurally diverse group of texts.

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