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Composing Lives: American Memory and Memoir

ENGL 286.302
TR 3-4:30

"In understanding fiction one seeks an imaginative grasp of another's meaning; in understanding personal history one seeks an imaginative comprehension of another's historic identity," Francis R. Hart has observed. In this course we will use autobiographies--personal histories--as tools to investigate the multiplicity of 20th century American experience. Readings will be drawn from such pairs of texts as Wright's Black Boy/Cary's Black Ice, Rodriguez's Hunger of Memory/Cofer's Silent Dancing, Kazin's A Walker in the City/McBride's The Color of Water, Silko's Ceremony/Momaday's The Names, Kingston's The Woman Warrior/Man's Falling Leaves, McCarthy's Memories of a Catholic Girlhood/McCourt's Angela's Ashes, Mead's Blackberry Winter/Bateson's With a Daughter's Eye. We will also be attentive to each writer's artistic and methodological decisions in constructing "versions of the self." Weekly reading journal, supplementary theoretical essays, a critical paper, some autobiographical writing are among the requirements, which will in part be determined by the desires and composition of the class.

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