Autobiographical Writing

Course Description:

Black feminist theorist, writer, and teacher bell hooks states: “We are born and have our being in a place of memory. We chart our lives by everything we remember from the mundane moment to the majestic. We know ourselves through the art and act of remembering.” As foreshadowed by scholars of public digital rhetorics such as Ward and Warnick, in the contemporary media landscape of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” no act of remembering is spared a conspiracy-inspired interpretation. Within this fractured public sphere, writers are returning to their dusty attics and forgotten cigar boxes to find letters, photographs, and official documents to be able to tell individual stories of loss and survival. In this course we will examine the role of writing memoir as an “art and act of remembering,” one that serves not only to further the healing of inherited trauma but also as a rhetorical act of resistance in an emerging “fact-free” media landscape. Students will write critical responses to published memoirs and secondary scholarship as well as their own autobiographical essays.


Reading responses, one oral report, and two autobiographical essays (including proposals, first drafts, peer reviews, and final drafts).


hooks, bell. Talking Back

Wiesel, Elie. Night

Spiegelman, Art. Maus II

Hirsch, Marianne: The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture after the Holocaust (selections from)

1 memoir of student’s own choice

Additional secondary readings distributed via pdf