Honors | Spiritual Autobiography
H203 | 6665 | Mary Jo Weaver
Title: Spiritual Autobiography
Description: We will read some classics of spiritual autobiography
in Western Christianity in an effort to understand two things: the
need to produce such a text and the story contained therein.
Students may consult some secondary literature as they try to
understand the context and content of these works, but we will
concentrate primarily on the texts themselves in a rather intense
Prerequisites: Only a promise to give dedicated preparation and a
willingness to engage material.
Augustine (354-430), The Confessions
Peter Abelard (1079-1142),The Story of My Misfortunes & The Letters
of Abelard and Heloise (1101-64)
Dante (1265-1321), Vita Nuova
Teresa of Avila (1515-82), The Book of Her Life
Thomas Merton (1915-68), Seven Storey Mountain
Dorothy Day (1897-1980), The Long Loneliness
Simone Weil (1909-43), Waiting for God
Etty Hillesum (1914-43), An Interrupted Life and Letters from
Papers: Each student will have to produce a high-quality paper (15-
18 pp) on some “spiritual autobiography” of their choice. It should
not be someone we have read in class, so it will take a little
digging to come up with ideas. Paper has a complex process of
conferences, outlines, class discussion, and eventual class
presentation. We will all read everyone’s paper and engage them.
Grades will be assigned mostly on the basis of preparation and
participation and on the paper.
I reserve the right to give exams if necessary (unannounced quizzes,
mid-term, and final are all possibilities).