Fall 2009

Autobiographical Acts


Dale E. Peterson (Section 01)


A close examination of the art of self-portraiture in words and film with frequent exercises both in critical appreciation and creative practice of a variety of autobiographical forms.  The course pays particular attention to the recovery of experienced moments and the formation of an image of the self in texts deliberately selected from different cultures and several centuries.  Students will be encouraged to notice the power of the individual creative imagination and the force of cultural influences in the compositions they are reading and writing.  Among the authors likely to be assigned will be Rousseau, Franklin, Obama, Wordsworth, Tolstoy, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Elizabeth Bishop, John Updike, and Sandra Cisneros.

This course assigns both analytic and creative exercises in autobiographical writing.  Class discussions will focus on careful, close reading of texts as well as occasional workshops centered on student writing.  Emphasis will be given to the art of composition, providing practice in selecting textual evidence in support of argument as well as developing awareness of voice and tone in the shaping of sentences.

Fall semester.  Professor Peterson.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009