American Authors: Autobiography and Memoir

Four photos of American authors of biographies, memoirs or autobiographies: Harriet Jacobs, Alison Bechdel, Sherman Alexie and Frederick Douglass.

Photographs of four American authors whose biographies, memoirs, or autobiographies are studied in the course, including Harriet Jacobs (top left), Alison Bechdel (top right), Sherman Alexie (bottom left) and Frederick Douglass (bottom right). (Photo of Harriet Jacobs in public domain. Photo of Frederick Douglass in public domain, courtesy of SIRIS. Photo of Sherman Alexie courtesy of Ellen Davis on Flickr. CC license BY-NC-SA. Photo of Alison Bechdel courtesy of tineke on Flickr. CC license BY-NC.)


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Fall 2013



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

What is a "life" when it's written down? How does memory inform the present? Why are autobiographies and memoirs so popular? This course will address these questions among others, considering the relationship between biography, autobiography, and memoir and between personal and social themes. We will examine classic authors such as Mary Rowlandson, Benjamin Franklin, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, and Mark Twain; then more recent examples like Tobias Wolff, Art Spiegelman, Sherman Alexie, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Edwidge Danticat, and Alison Bechdel.

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Related Content

Wyn Kelley. 21L.512 American Authors: Autobiography and Memoir. Fall 2013. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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