English | Introduction to Prose (Nonfiction)
L206 | 4886 | Yoonmee Chang

Yoonmee Chang

2:30p-3:45p TR (25 students) 3 cr., A&H.

TOPIC:  “Women’s Autobiography”

Focusing on women’s autobiographies that address race, class and
sexuality, we will examine the problems of “voice.”  This course has
two central aims:  to examine how identity categories (e.g. female,
gay, black, Asian American, Latina) impact an author’s voice, and
how authors challenge, redefine and reject those categories.  We
will challenge our own reading practices, questioning the
assumptions we bring to these texts.  What are the differences in
reading a text by an author who is self-identified as gay, for
instance, versus an author who we merely assume to be gay?  Does a
woman of color necessarily write about race, or does the reader
assume that she does?  What do we make of texts that offer no
stable, authorial voice, but multiple voices that shift and cross
what we understand as identity boundaries?  Does autobiography as
genre, meant to enable self-expression, limit or liberate these
voices?  Authors may include Edith Hahn, Maxine Hong Kingston,
Judith Ortiz-Cofer, Tillie Olsen, Charlotte Pierce-Baker, and
Margaret Cho.  Requirements:  Midterm, final, two long papers, pop-
quizzes, oral presentation, and several journal assignments
throughout the semester.