We will study examples of US memoirs and autobiographies that illustrate core themes of the human experience, including developing personal identity; understanding the complexities of memory, identity, and narrative; navigating complex interpersonal relationships; coping with trauma and suffering; and finding one’s place in a community and in the world. Fundamental to this study will be questions about how authors and texts remember, represent, and make sense of life events through writing, and how we as humans construct meaning and purpose in our lives through the stories told (or not told) about our experiences and ourselves. We will analyze the ways in which authors reveal the complex interactions between narrative and self-identity, including the ways in which autobiographical writing both reveals and creates a self, as we discuss such topics as authenticity, truth, resilience and the ethics of reading and writing a life.

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