Teaching Life Writing Texts

Overview

The past thirty years have witnessed a rapid growth in the number and variety of courses and programs that study life writing from literary, philosophical, psychological, and cultural perspectives. The field has evolved from the traditional approach that biographies and autobiographies were always about prominent people--historically significant persons, the nobility, celebrities, writers--to the conception of life writing as a genre of interrogation and revelation. The texts now studied include memoirs, ...

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Overview

The past thirty years have witnessed a rapid growth in the number and variety of courses and programs that study life writing from literary, philosophical, psychological, and cultural perspectives. The field has evolved from the traditional approach that biographies and autobiographies were always about prominent people--historically significant persons, the nobility, celebrities, writers--to the conception of life writing as a genre of interrogation and revelation. The texts now studied include memoirs, testimonios, diaries, oral histories, genealogies, and group biographies and extend to resources in the visual and plastic arts, in films and videos, and on the Internet. Today the tensions between canonical and emergent life writing texts, between the famous and the formerly unrepresented, are making the study of biography and autobiography a far more nuanced and multifarious activity.

This volume in the MLA series Options for Teaching builds on and complements earlier work on pedagogical issues in life writing studies. Over forty contributors from a broad range of educational institutions describe courses for every level of postsecondary instruction. Some writers draw heavily on literary and cultural theory; others share their assignments and weekly syllabi. Many essays grapple with texts that represent disability, illness, abuse, and depression; ethnic, sexual and racial discrimination; crises and catastrophes; witnessing and testimonials; human rights violations; and genocide. The classes described are taught in humanities, cultural studies, social science, and language departments and are located in, among other countries, the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, Germany, Eritrea, and South Africa.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Howes and Fuchs have spanned a remarkable breadth in terms of where their writers come from, the sorts of schools they teach in, and the life writing issues on which they focus. The result is a veritable gold mine for both teaching and research." --Susanna Egan, author, Mirror Talk: Genres of Crisis in Contemporary Autobiography

"Howes and Fuchs have spanned a remarkable breadth in terms of where their writers come from, the sorts of schools they teach in, and the life writing issues on which they focus. The result is a veritable gold mine for both teaching and research." --Susanna Egan, author, Mirror Talk: Genres of Crisis in Contemporary Autobiography

"For both teachers and researchers in the varied areas of 'life writing', this volume in the Options for Teaching series is of tremendous value. It sets out to be as all-encompassing as possible in terms of its definition of life writing, and thus many readers are likely to encounter examples of various forms of writing the self which they have not previously considered in any great detail." --Ursula J. Fanning, University College Dublin

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780873528191
  • Publisher: Modern Language Association of America
  • Publication date: 1/1/2008
  • Series: Options for Teaching Ser.
  • Pages: 409
  • Product dimensions: 6.39 (w) x 9.23 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction   Miriam Fuchs   Craig Howes     1
Generic Approaches
Literary Studies
Introduction to World Narrative   Roger J. Porter     23
Slipping Away, Sliding Around: Teaching Autobiography as-and Not as-History and Genre   Thomas R. Smith     32
Life Writing and Biographical Fiction: Contemporary Teaching and Learning Strategies   David Houston Jones     38
Diaries and Diarists   Suzanne L. Bunkers     45
Teaching Travel Writing as Life Writing   Gary Totten     53
Teaching "The Lives of the Victorians": A Historical Approach to Changing Conventions of Life Narrative   Alison Booth     59
Modernist American Literature and Life Writing   David Caplan     68
The Subject of Drugs   Martin A. Danahay     74
Sports Autobiographies and American Culture   James W. Pipkin     81
Writing the Self   John Mepham   Sarah Sceats     91
The Generic Instability of Contemporary Life Writing in Canada   Gabriele Helms     99
A + B [not equal] B + A: Teaching Autobiographies and Biographies in Pairs   Timothy Dow Adams     107
Biography, Oral History, Autobiography:A Graduate Course   Craig Howes     115
Interdisciplinary Approaches
A Text of Their Own: Life Writing as an Introduction to Undergraduate English Studies   Cynthia Huff     122
Teaching Rachel Calof's Story: Jewish Homesteader on the Northern Plains   Kristine Peleg     129
Reading, Writing, Performing Life Writing: Multiple Constructions of Self   Katrina M. Powell     135
"In My Life": Growing Up with the Beatles from Liverpool to Abbey Road   Kenneth Womack     143
The Whole Picture: Using Nonliterary Forms of Artistic Production to Teach Life Writing   Thomas J. D. Armbrecht     151
Life Writings as New Cultural Contexts for the Meanings of Art and Artist   Julie F. Codell     161
Emblematic Sculptures: The Artwork of Felix Gonzalez-Torres in the Life Writing Classroom   Frances Freeman Paden     171
A Graduate Seminar in Life Writing: Posing and Composing Lives   Miriam Fuchs     180
Additional Resources for Teaching Life Writing Texts: Generic Approaches     191
Cultural Approaches
Times and Places
The Many Voices of Creation: Early American and Canadian Life Writing   Michael W. Young     195
Experiencing Collaborative Autobiography   Kathleen Boardman     201
Teaching Contemporary Australian Autobiography   Richard Freadman     208
Located Subjects   Gillian Whitlock   Kate Douglas     214
Life Writing in the New South Africa   Judith Lutge Coullie     221
An Undergraduate and Graduate Colloquium in Social History and Biography in the Modern Middle East and North Africa   Julia Clancy-Smith     233
Teaching Multicultural Life-History Writing Texts through Technology's Third Space: Reflections on a University of Washington-University of Asmara Collaboration   Sandra Chait   Ghirmai Negash     239
Ethnographic and Autoethnographic Approaches
No Indian Is an Island: On the Ethics of Teaching Indigenous Life Writing Texts   Daniel Heath Justice     252
Women, Race, Reading, and Feeling: Postmemory in Undergraduate Studies of Slave Narratives   Joycelyn K. Moody     260
Olaudah Equiano and the Concept of Culture   Sarah Brophy     270
Eastern European Oral Narratives of the Walled-Up Wife and Their Retelling in Recent Life Writing Texts   Iulia-Karin Patrut     277
Discerning Diversity in American Lives   Joanne Karpinski     286
Reading and Writing Ethnography   Jeraldine R. Kraver     292
Close Encounters: (Re)Teaching Ethnic Autobiography as Autoethnography   Gail Y. Okawa     303
Teaching Testimonio: A New, Ex-Centric Design Emerges   Arturo Arias     310
Gendered and Sexual Orientation Approaches
Anxiety of Choice: Teaching Contemporary Women's Autobiography   Susannah B. Mintz     318
Teaching Jo Spence's Putting Myself in the Picture: Pedagogy and Life Writing in and outside the University   Margaretta Jolly     327
Teaching Queer Lives   Georgia Johnston     336
Cultures of Life Writing   Trev Lynn Broughton     343
Illness and Disability Approaches
Quality-of-Life Writing: Illness, Disability, and Representation   G. Thomas Couser     350
Teaching Women's Depression Memoirs: Healing, Testimony, and Critique   Hilary Clark     359
What Do We Teach When We Teach Trauma?   Leigh Gilmore     367
Additional Resources for Teaching Life Writing: Cultural Approaches     374
Life Writing Resources for Teachers   Miriam Fuchs   Craig Howes   Stanley Schab     376
Notes on Contributors     383
Index     391
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