Everything is Personal: A Study of the Memoir

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Everything is Personal: A Study of the Memoir

“So, why do we need a memoir?” asks the psychologist and memoirist, Liz Scott. “In this world, and in our country—where so many of us feel a lack of connection, where the challenges seem so large—writers who dare to tell the brutal, honest truth about their humanity offer us a gift.” This course proposes to study that gift and critically engage a popular and rapidly evolving literary form. The memoir is a branch of creative nonfiction. With tentacles in both the public and the private, such a storytelling form benefits, in the words of Rob Nixon, from a “robust adaptability, imaginative and political, as well as its information carrying capacity and its aura of the real.” In our class, we will study five memoirs, as well as critical materials that will raise a number of questions about narrative, rhetoric, genre, identity, and the future of literary studies.