Teaching Life Writing Texts

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Modern Language Association of America, 2008 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 400 pages
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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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Illness and Disability Approaches
Literary Studies
Teaching Autobiography

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About the author (2008)

Miriam Fuchs coedits Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly and is professor of English at the University of Hawai'i at M?noa. She is the author of The Text Is Myself: Women's Life Writing and Catastrophe (2004), editor of Marguerite Young, Our Darling: Tributes and Essays , and coeditor, with Ellen G. Friedman, of Breaking the Sequence: Women's Experimental Fiction (1989). She has published on modernist authors, life writing, Djuna Barnes, Emily Holmes Coleman, H.D., Patricia Grace, and Queen Lili'uokalani.

Craig Howes is director of the Center for Biographical Research, the coeditor of Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly , and professor of English at the University of Hawai'i at M?noa. He is the author of Voices of the Vietnam POWs (1993) and essays on Victorian literature and life writing, including the afterword to The Ethics of Life Writing (ed. Paul John Eakin, 2004), and the coproducer of the television documentary series Biography Hawai'i.

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