20 credits at level HE5
The aim of this module is to explore through chosen examples the scope of auto/biography and auto/biographical fiction from the beginning of the twentieth century on. The module will raise questions about the nature of auto/biography and its relationship to other literary forms; it will investigate the problematic nature of the self, and how versions of the self are created and recreated, revealed and concealed in writing; it will also examine the way that auto/biography represents social, cultural and historical events.
The module will focus on twenty to twenty-first century writings,with reference to earlier, key autobiographical texts. It will also explore the problematic status of 'auto/biography', of 'writing the self', and theoretical issues associated with this.
A historical and literary contextualisation of the form, including some extracts from classic examples.
Detailed readings of a number of auto/biographical texts (the current texts are listed below, in the Indicative Reading), around the following themes:
- autobiographical writing and modernist fictional techniques;
- the trial and survival of the self in the face of extremes of personal and/or political experience;
- questions of memory, childhood, growing-up, capturing the ordinary;
- questions of class, gender and ethnicity in writing the self.
The module will consist of 14 three-hour sessions which will include short lectures by the tutor, whole class discussion, small group/tutorial work, essay preparation and feedback sessions.
There will be two forms of assessment:
- an essay (2500-3000 words)
- a journal (six entries of c500 words) which will require the student to reflect on problematic issues around 'writing the self' in relation to at least five of the set texts. For the sixth entry, students will be encouraged to include one other text, of their own choosing.
Although the journal is not due in till the end of the module, the first few entries will be looked at early on in the module, to give you 'formative' feedback on your progress.
when you have successfully completed this module you will:
to demonstrate that you have achieved the learning outcome you will:
|1.||have an understanding of the nature, scope and problems of auto/biographical writings||show that you can identify, analyse and discuss the varied nature of auto/biographical writing|
|2.||have an understanding of the complexities of the concept of self, as explored in contemporary theory||show that you can explain and explore the problematic ideas about the self as they are expressed in auto/biographical writing|
|3.||show an ability to undertake a close textual analysis of auto/biographical writings.||Undertake a close critical analysis of a selection of auto/biographical writings.|
Your achievement of the learning outcomes for this module will be tested as follows:
There are no prerequisites for this module.
No restrictions apply.
James Joyce Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Primo Levi If This Is A Man
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar
JG Ballard Empire of the Sun
Bill Naughton Neither Use Nor Ornament
Lorna Sage Bad Blood
Anderson, Linda R. Autobiography. London: Routledge, 2001
Buckley, Jerome Hamilton. The Turning Key: autobiography and the subjective impulse since 1800. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984
Cosslett, Tess, Lury, Celia and Summerfield, Penny. Feminism and Autobiography: texts, theories, methods. London: Routledge, 2000.
Evans, Mary. Missing Persons: the impossibility of auto/biography. London: Routledge, 1999
Marcus, Laura. Auto/biographical discourses: criticism, theory, practice. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994
Olney, James (ed.). Studies in Autobiography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988
Smith, Sidonie A. Poetics of Women's Autobiography: marginality and the fictions of self-representation. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1987
Stanley, Liz. The Auto/Biographical I: the theory and practice of feminist auto/biography. Manchester University Press, 1992
[There will also be more specific essays/handouts on particular writers.]
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