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Writing the Self

ENGL 490.920
instructor(s):
MW 4-7:10

This course aims to present the history and the theory of autobiography as developed before poststructuralism, and in it. While the impact of new conceptions of subjectivity and authorship is felt on all modern autobiographies, the feminist perspective valorizes autobiography as the possibility of expression of sexual difference and gender, as well as a contextual practice of representing/signifying the self in a "politics of location".

What are the distinctive traits of a feminist gaze determining autobiographies of female-feminist subjects? How important is the role of the reader? How does the private/public divide shape feminist discourse? How are the canonical/non canonical forms of discourse reshaped by feminist practices of reading and writing? How does the re-writing of narratives into film affect their autobiographical possibility?

Readings will include novels, poems and essays:
-Virginia Wools, "Moments of Being" and "To the Lighthouse"
-Gertrude Stein, "Portrait of Mable Dodge at the Villa Curonia" and "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas"
-Audre Lorde, "Zami" and "Sister Outsider"
-Jeanette Winterson, "Oranges are not the Only Fruit," "Testimony Against Gertrude Stein," "Art and Life" and "A Work of My own" in "Art Objects. Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery"
-Adrienne Rich, "Your Native Land Your Life" and "Blood. Bread and Poetry" OR: "Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose, A Norton Critical Edition" (latest edition)
-Helene Cixous, "Mon algriance" in "Stigmata" and "Difficult Joys" in "The Body and the Text." "Cixous Reading and Teaching," in Wilcox, McWatters, Thompson & Williams, Harvester Wheatsheaf, NY. 1990
-Natalia Ginzburg, "Family Lexicon"