A fountain pen resting on an open book

This course studies modern American writers writing about their own lives. In addition, students will have a chance to do their own personal writing. We will consider not only writing that presents itself as autobiography or memoir but also fiction based on the writer’s own life. The texts will include (subject to change) essays and stories by such writers as Alice Walker, Amy Tan, Maxine Hong Kingston, James Baldwin, Richard Rodriquez, and E. B. White plus three longer works: Vladimir Nabokov’s Speak. Memory (considered one of the best modern American autobiographies); Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (a landmark in modern American nature writing); and Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life (the book behind the film of the same name starring Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio). In discussing This Boy's Life, we will consider the problems of turning personal writing into film.

Requirements (subject to change): five short  papers (2-3 pages), including at least one piece of original personal writing; mid-term; final. For further information, contact the instructor: