L206 1940 WOODCOCK
Introduction to Prose (Excluding Fiction)

11:15a-12:30p TR (30) 3 cr.

TOPIC: SPIRITUAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY

This course focuses on modern spiritual autobiography, a selection of twentieth century works that in one way or another involve writer and reader in a quest for the meaning of a life. Our authors are women and men, both religious and non religious. The inspirations for their writing vary in seriousness from mortal threat through illness and soul-threatening environment to a subtly increasing sense of dissatisfaction, but all seek a new and more meaningful definition of themselves in relation to their world. In our discussions we will approach the readings as life stories in other words, as part of the larger genre of autobiography but we will give particular attention to the nature of the spiritual quest at the core of each narrative, and to the author's way of presenting the journey of self discovery or transformation. We will spend some time early in the semester studying personal journals and their relation to autobiography.

There will be two kinds of writing assignments: frequent one page responses to questions we will ask of the readings, and a longer project which may be critical or autobiographical. Students will make a group presentation to the class on an author, theme, or critical question. The short papers together and the longer project will each contribute about 40% to the final grade for the course, and class contribution will make up the remaining 20%. The reading list is not yet final, but it will contain most of the following works and several others: Lucy Grealy, Autobiography of a Face; Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life; Tobias Wolff, This Boy's Life; Richard Wright, Black Boy