Fictional Autobiographies, Autobiographical Fictions
In this course we will examine the different kinds of modern writing that are based loosely on autobiography or accounts in which people tell their own life history. These texts may appear in the form of plain autobiography, memoirs disguised fiction, novels, personal testimonials, essays, etc. We will study the relation between author and narrator, between life and art, as they figure in these works. We will consider also what the status of 'truth' is in many of these accounts, and how the criteria and value of truth may vary in different times and places. We will also explore what purpose such narratives serve in helping us to make sense of ourselves and our society. Authors we study will include Rigoberta Menchu, Doris Lessing, Dorothy Allison, Roland Barthes, Jamaica Kincaid, Sara Suleri, C. L. R. James, V. S. Naipaul.