Title: Life Writing
Instructor: Helmers, Marguerite
Biography, autobiography, memoir, and personal narrative are names by which life writing is known. In writing about a life--in writing about one’s own life--what choices do writers make about the events and details to include? How do writers decide on a tone, whether that tone is optimistic or dispirited? From poem to graphic novel, from song to book, how do writers use form to display content?
In this WBIS course, we will examine these questions and explore issues such as the relationship of the story to its form of telling; of the degree to which research and cultural awareness shape the tale; and the nature of emotional truth, the truth of “how it felt to me.”
The main readings are Dave Eggers’s Zeitoun, Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran, and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. While Zeitoun is a biography set in New Orleans, Nafisi’s and Satrapi’s memoirs tell their stories of life in Iran. Therefore, this course contributes to an understanding of intercultural relationships as we explore shifts in the cultural landscape of America and the Middle East. Is there a point at which, by reading life writing, we become more aware of ourselves?
(please note: section topics and descriptions are subject to change)