English | American Prose-Excluding Fiction
L360 | 26255 | Scott Sanders

Scott Sanders

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

TOPIC:  “American Lives”

In this course we will read and discuss a number of American
autobiographies and memoirs, ranging from the 18th century to the
present.  In examining each book, we will pay close attention to the
way the author defines the shape of his or her life, the way
narrative reveals or creates patterns in experience, and the way the
thread of an individual life is woven into larger contexts, such as
family, community, nature, religion, or history.  We will read
perhaps seven or eight books, and we will spend one or two weeks on
each, depending on its length and complexity.  You will be asked to
write a short (1-2 page) response for each book.  In addition, you
will be asked to write a 4-5 page essay at mid-semester and an 8-10
page essay at the end of the semester.  The written work may be
either “critical” or “creative” (to use those clumsy categories).
Here are some of the books I’m considering:  Cort Conley and Annie
Dillard, eds., Modern American Memoirs; Annie Dillard, An American
Childhood; Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick
Douglass, An American Slave; Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography;
Maxine Hong Kingston, A Woman Warrior; John G. Neihardt, Black Elk
Speaks; Janisse Ray, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood; Richard
Rodriguez, Hunger of Memory; Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An
Unnatural History of Family and Place; Tobias Wolff, This Boy’s
Life.  The class will be conducted as a discussion, and therefore
thorough preparation, faithful attendance, and active participation
are crucial.  Grades will be based primarily on the quality of your
written work, and secondarily on the quality of your participation
in class.