Studies in Lifewriting: Worklife Writing

In this version of English
464, you will take your work lives—no matter where you work and full- or
part-time—as the central topic to write about. You will document and reflect
critically on the kinds of work required, conditions of labor, effects on your sense
of self-fulfillment, goals, desires, etc.—in short, the ways in which work shapes
your life. The course will provide you with an introduction to some important
life writing principles through our primary text, Smith & Watson’s Reading
Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives,
and through excerpts from their text
Getting a Life: Everyday Uses of Autobiography.
We will
also explore
performance theory to help you consider your
performances at work and your representations of them. Because your own work
autobiography will constitute your term project, you will begin blogging after
our first class meeting, both to capture your weekly thoughts and commit them
to pixels and to help us generate class discussions. We will frame our course
as a learning community, requiring highly interactive and collaborative
performances from all participants to achieve our goal of producing an online
publication that includes every student’s final project
. You can see the publication from Fall 2010 here:

Course Requirements

  • Regular postings to
    Laulima in response to weekly readings
  • Co-leading a class
    discussion of postings on readings
  • Blog entries during the
    first few weeks of class
  • Ideas for class
    discussions based on two peers’ blogs
  • A quick introduction and
    reading aloud of a chapter from Terkel
  • A term project proposal
  • Term project drafts
  • Response to team members’
  • Final term project
  • Flawless attendance

Required Texts (Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives available
through UH Bookstore; all others available online)

  • Smith & Watson’s Reading Autobiography: A Guide for Interpreting
    Life Narratives; Getting a Life: Everyday Uses of Autobiography
    (selected chapters)
  • Mayhew’s London
    Labour and the London Poor
  • Zuern’s Ask Me
    For the Moon: Working Nights in Waikiki
  • Goffman’s Presentation
    of Self in Everyday Life

    (selected chapters)
  • Kodama-Nishimoto,
    Nishimoto, and Oshiro
    ‘s Talking Hawaii’s Story: Oral
    Histories of an Island People
    ( selected

Chun-Hoon’s “Labor” in The
Value of Hawai’i: Knowing the Past, Shaping the Future

Nader’s “Up the
Anthropologist—Perspectives Gained from Studying Up”

Schein’s “Organizational

Terkel’s Working: People Talk
about What They do All Day and How They Feel about What They Do (selected

Henry’s “Performing Professionally as a
Writer: Research Revival Vlogs”