Introduction to Literature: Culture and Literature: Memoir as Resistance

ENG 272 Intro to Lit: Culture and Literature

Growing Up a Rebel: Memoir as Resistance 

TR 9:00 am – 10:15 am (In person)

Historically and canonically we have prioritized the male coming-of-age journey, evident in our educational valorization of texts like Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Dickens’ Great Expectations. While these texts certainly come from accomplished voices, this course seeks to subvert these literary traditions by creating a space to celebrate the stories and lives of women (in a variety of definitions). In this course, we will seek to understand how forms of life writing, particularly the memoir, have served to showcase a feminine resistance to systems that seek to limit or prescribe the ways womanhood can be constructed and lived. By interrogating the subjectivites constructed in each of these coming-of-age texts we will question how exactly a rebel subjectivity is grown. We will examine a variety of subjectivities situated in various cultural and historical contexts, trying to understand what exactly it means to position the journey into womanhood as one that is fluid and contextually responsive. Some questions we may seek to answer are: How can we deconstruct limiting ideals of womanhood by interrogating these narratives? What constructions of womanhood are not present in these texts? How do the women present in these narratives embody resistance to cultural norms and/or expectations? How do various authors construct a woman subject?

As we travel through these lives and stories, we will continually address the relationship between the autobiographical subject and the ways in which they embody various forms of resistance, while also discussing how these stories relate to our own connections to embodied resistance. We will start the semester by building a toolbox of critical terms and concepts that we can use to understand each of the autobiographical subjects. As we move through the semester, we will produce analytical writing (a semester total of 4,000 words of revised prose) that investigate the construction of rebellious subjectivities. The semester will culminate in a project that asks us to produce and analyze our own autobiographical projects. This course is writing intensive and will ask you to consider multimodal composing practices. Through our discussion of autobiographical writing in our class, some issues we might discuss include gender, race, sexuality, culture, family, class, etc.



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


(Tentative) Required Texts 

Men We Reaped: A Memoir  by Jesmyn Ward

Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir  by Liz Prince 

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Ordinary Girls: A Memoir by Jaquira Díaz  

In the Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado 

The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom