09:00 AM to 10:15 AM MW
Thompson Hall 2021
Section Information for Fall 2020
Who and how does one say that they are, compared to what (and what not), and why? This course will explore the critical and creative construction of the identity of “self,” how the constructive understanding has historically shifted, and how it is specifically understood as an engagement with (or in contrast to) “others” (religious, cultural, political, socio-economic, familial, sexual, etc.) and larger themes often related to religion, such as freedom, survival, memory, power, love, justice, etc. Over the course of the semester students will read and discuss classic as well as more recent religious autobiographies, especially for America as engaged with senses of a wider world. Some of these texts will include St. Augustine's Confessions, the conversion "account" by Cabeza de Vaca, the graphic novel Maus, Malcolm X's Autobiography, and poems by Joy Harjo. Along the way students will consider how the genre(s), approaches, styles, and even focus of autobiography have shifted and diversified throughout history as well as—toward the end of the course with Robert Caro's Working—what may be required to craft them well.