English and Film Studies

ENGL 301 A1: Social and Cultural History of Genre: Writing the Self

J. Rak

In this course, we will study auto/biography, a type of personal nonfiction which includes memoir, biography or even automedia, the representation of the self online. We will begin with the development of autobiography from its early beginnings in religious confession and move to contemporary developments, including the “new” biography, Indigenous life writing, autobiographical film, and more. Issues we explore will include: genre and popular writing; the “culture of confession” and autobiography; the politics of autobiography; the explosion of autobiographical comics; trauma and testimony; and illness memoirs.

Texts
Jeannette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? 
Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle
Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
David Small, Stitches
Jean-Dominique Bauby, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Maria Campbell, Half-Breed
Patti Smith, Just Kids
Chelene Knight, Dear Current Occupant

Films
Sarah Polley, The Stories We Tell