ENGL 327
Autofiction Fall 2022
Division I

Class Details

At a minimum, autofiction refers to contemporary fiction with writer-protagonists who plausibly resemble their author and who often share a name with him or her. When did it begin? Perhaps In Search of Lost Time and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man are modernist precursors, but the category comes into its own in the twenty-first century, when writers who know that reality is a fiction nevertheless crave truth, and authors who know that selves are constructs need to express themselves. Or perhaps they know that if the world and self are already fictions, why disguise it by traditional plotting and characterizing? The critical world isn’t sure yet what to make of this widespread confounding of novel and memoir, so the course will be exploratory. We’ll read about seven books of the quasi-genre, chosen from early prototypes by Marguerite Duras and Peter Weiss, canonized exemplars by Ben Lerner and Dave Eggers, and recent experiments by Sheila Heti, Tao Lin, Jenny Offill, Nell Zink, Will Self, Rachel Cusk, and Ron Currie.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 20
Class#: 1860
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: No exams. Three papers, 4 pp., 5 pp., 6-8 pp. Contribution to class discssions is expected and rewarded.
Prerequisites: 100-level English course or permission of instructor.
Enrollment Preferences: English majors, then sophomores considering the English major.
Distributions: Division I
Attributes: ENGL Literary Histories C

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