Please note: Graduate students in English may take this course for credit with the permission of the graduate chair.
This course is designed to introduce students to original research in and analysis of the documentation of women's lives. It will begin with an overview of theoretical and methodological issues related to the genres of biography and autobiography and continue with the evaluation of a feminist perspective of these genres in relation to the lives of women. It is hoped that class sessions will eventually function more as colloquia rather than as traditional lectures or seminars. Students will be required to select a research topic based on archival resources either at Penn or within a repository in the greater Philadelphia area. In addition to a selection of assigned readings, requirements include a class presentation on work in progress and a final paper that includes (1) a bibliographic essay concerning publications and resources on one's topic; (2) a description/evaluation of critical methods used in (3); and (3) a biographical essay on one's topic. The following is a preliminary guide to the structuring of the course and some of its components.