In this class, part of the department’s “Critical-Creative” set of courses, we’ll focus on the novel of development and its first cousin, the memoir. We'll look at issues such as sex and gender, neglect, leaving home, finding a vocation, coping with religious pressure, and the difficult relationship of conformity and rebellion.
We’ll begin with two famous and influential examples: Jane Eyre and Great Expectations. Other readings will include Edmund Gosse’s Father and Son, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Lorene Cary’s Black Ice, Marilynn Robinson’s Housekeeping, and two more chosen by the class.
In the first portion of the semester, the writing assignments will be primarily short papers written in response to the readings, and short memoir pieces that grow from that reading. We’ll spend the last month shifting the focus from reading to writing. You’ll produce longer pieces of personal writing. These pieces may be non-fiction, fiction, poetry, or a hybrid form. You’ll bring your pieces-in-progress to the class for workshop sessions, and use their suggestions in your revision process.