How do writers use narrative to construct their life stories and the lives of others? This
course will explore the narrative nature of life writing, with attention to point of view,
tone and narrative structure. Throughout the course, we will try to define the main genres
of life writing (biography, autobiography, letters and diaries)—with the awareness that
the distinction between these forms is anything but clear. Much of the course will be
devoted to experiments in life writing forms (from the modernist period forward) and the
link between novels and life writing. Secondary readings will include writings by Sidonie
Smith and Julia Watson, Linda Anderson, Paul John Eakin, Laura Marcus, Leigh Gilmore
and Nigel Hamilton.
• To trace continuity and change in life writing genres, and to get a sense of
how permeable the boundaries are between life writing genres.
• To gain familiarity with scholarship which engages with life writing, and
some conversance with research opportunities and methodologies in the
field of life writing scholarship.
• To complete original research in the field of life writing.