Intro to Lit: Genre

Eng 271 Intro to Lit: Genre 

Memoir in Adaptation

Course Description

Life Writing is a genre that contains a multitude of compositional possibilities. One of the most difficult choices in composing an autobiographical piece can be not only what stories to tell but also which modes and mediums to tell them with. While the memoir has always stood as a genre with many multimodal possibilities, over the years we have seen an increasing amount of attempts to translate the intimacy of the written word into an experience that can be consumed by larger audiences via the film screen. This course seeks to understand the relationship between these modes of storytelling and unearth the complexities of the adaptation process. Some questions this course may explore are: What stories and voices must be sacrificed in order to meet the demand of genre conventions? How is the autobiographical subject reshaped as it crosses the boundaries between genres? How do relationships of power change as the adaptation process is completed? What literacies do we need in order to engage with multimodal genres? Where is erasure happening during the adaptation processes? What paratextual evidence can we find that gives us insight into the adaptation processes? How does our understanding of “truth” change when it comes in contact with adaptation?

In this course, we will engage with texts that present autobiographical subjects positioned in wildly different historical, geographical, and cultural contexts. As we travel through these lives and stories, we will continually address the relationship between the autobiographical subject and contextual spaces they inhabit, while also discussing how these stories relate to our own connections to space and place. We will start the semester by building a toolbox of critical terms and concepts that we can use to understand each autobiographical subject and the ways they are shaped by adaptation. As we move through the semester, we will produce analytical writing (a semester total of 4,000 words of revised prose) that investigates this relationship. The semester will culminate in a project that asks us to produce and analyze our own autobiographical adaptations. This course is writing intensive and will ask you to consider multimodal composing practices. Through our discussion of autobiographical adaptation in our class, some issues we might discuss include gender, race, sexuality, culture, family, class, etc.


  • Uptake Journal (For Reading/Screening Notes and Responses)
  • Close Reading Group Presentation
  • Critical Analysis Essay
  • Compare and Contrast Essay + Visual Graphic Representation
  • Creative Adaptation + Rhetorical Analysis
  • Final Exam

Required Texts

When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman’s Journey from War to Peace by Le Ly Hayslip, with Jay Wurts

An Education by Lynn Barber

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Required Films

Heaven and Earth (1993)

An Education (2009) 

Wild (2014)

Persepolis (2007)

Additional Critical Texts Will Be Provided Via Laulima