ENGL 274 - Reading and Writing American Memoir
Semester Offered: Spring
(Same as AMST 274 ) On the first page of Heavy: An American Memoir, Kiese Laymon writes, “I did not want to write about us. I wanted to write an American memoir. I wanted to write a lie.” This course asks students to consider what it means to write an American memoir, particularly from perspectives historically excluded from mainstream publishing and prestigious literary journals. Keeping Laymon’s words in mind, we might ask how marginalized voices engage the presumed transparency of the memoir form to render lies (or mythologies) that arguably consolidate the US as a nation. How does the American memoir write from and to the nation?
This course centers students’ voices. We learn about memoir (and memory) from reading selected memoirs and criticism, but also from our own life writing, which we share in a workshop setting. Our reading selections provide us with a variety of models for transforming memory into story, including the braided essay, lyric forms, flash, the hermit crab essay, and epistolary, among others. Authors may include Kiese Laymon, Deborah Miranda, Melissa Febos, Doris Cheng, Bich Minh Nguyen, and Hilton Als, among others. Hiram Perez.
Two hours every other week.
Course Format: INT
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