Although autobiographies are one of the most popular genres, autobiographical writing cannot readily be defined. This seminar starts with a discussion of various theoretical approaches to autobiographical writing before examining different constructions and functions of the autobiographical I in a choice of autobiographical texts. Startig with 'classical' autobiographies of great men such as Benjamin Franklin, we will also take a look at how autoethnographic texts by speakers from the discursive margins authorize their voices e.g. in slave narratives and testimonios – thus questioning the received paradigms of the genre. We will also discuss the genre's pecualiar situatedness between 'fact' and 'fiction' and 'experience' and 'narration'.
Preliminary reading/Books to be ordered:
- Benjamin Franklin. The Autobiography. (Excerpt from The Norton Anthology)
- Harriet Jacobs. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. (Excerpt from The Norton Anthology)
- Zora Nelae Hurston. Dust Tracks on A Road
- Gertrude Stein. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
- Vladimir Nabokov. Speak, Memory
- Audre Lorde. Zami A New Spelling of My Name
- Rigoberta Menchú/Elisabeth Burgos Debray. I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala (Excerpt)
- Barack Obama. Dreams of My Father and The Audacity of Hope (Excerpts)
- Donald Trump. The Art of the Deal (Exceprts)
A reader and a detailed reading list will be available in the Lernraum of the ekkV at the beginning of the semester.