Not Quite Passing|
Spring 2018 not offered
While the tradition of memoir can arguably be traced back to St. Augustine's Confessions, there's an equally long history of false memoirs, or "memoir minstrelsy," where authors write memoirs about lives they haven't lived or use false backstories to sell and publish fiction as thinly veiled roman à clef. Often these memoirs/backstories "borrow" narratives from marginalized groups and ethnicities that have traditionally had their own stories hijacked.
Students will explore the tradition of false lives recorded as reality and seek out answers to the weird and difficult questions raised by this mutated genre: What is the author's agenda? Why is it that people in the majority consistently mine the plights of marginalized individuals? How did these stories get into our hands at all? Why are readers so willing to trust someone when an author says something is true in a book? What happens when fictional narratives are framed as personal nonfiction reportage? Students will also actively participate in writing their own false memoir, based on their close readings of assigned texts.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Lecture / Discussion||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None
Selected words by James Frey, Jerry Kosinski, Beatrice Sparks, Nasdijj, J.T. Leroy, and others.
|Examination and Assignments: |
Students will participate in weekly in-class freewriting prompts, along with submitting one 7 to 10 page essay and a revision. A final portfolio collecting the student's entire written output will be due at semester's end.
Each student will have their own writing workshopped. Extensive class participation and attendance at every class required.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
Students will attend three events per semester with visiting writers (Wednesday afternoons and evenings; Q & A sessions at 4:15 and readings at 8:00 p.m.). Enrolled students should adjust their schedules accordingly.