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World Autobiography

ENGL 0038.401
also offered as: COML 0038
MW 1:45-3:14pm


This course will introduce you to the great variety of narrative forms and themes in autobiographical literature from a wide range of cultural and national traditions. As a course on a major narrative genre, it will give you a grounding in the fundamentals of genre- and narrative-theory and criticism. And, as a course on world literature, it will introduce you to the principles and theories of comparativism, as well as contemporary debates regarding the regional, the national, and the global in literary studies. Our focus will be on “modern” autobiography, from the late 18th century to the present day, with particular emphasis on 20th- and 21st-century autobiographical writing, from many different parts of the world. All works—many of them in translation—will be read in English, which means we’ll be examining the role of the English language in shaping different conceptions of “world literature.” Representative authors and locales include: Alison Bechdel (U.S.), Nirad Chaudhuri (India), Mohamed Choukri (Morocco), J. M. Coetzee (South Africa), Alicia Elliott (Canada/Six Nations), Annie Ernaux (France), Anne Frank (Germany/Netherlands), Kiese Laymon (U.S.), Audre Lorde (U.S.), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (France), Wole Soyinka (Nigeria), Greta Thunberg (Sweden), and William Wordsworth (U.K.). Course requirements will vary according to class-size but will likely involve a combination of short essays, quizzes, and in-class exercises. (No mid-term or final exams.)


This course fulfills College-Sector - Arts &  Letters (AUAL).


English Major Requirements
  • Sector 1 Theory and Poetics (AETP)
  • Sector 2 Difference and Diaspora (AEDD)
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
College Attributes
Additional Attributes