ENGL 151
Lying About the Truth: Writing about Autobiographical Writing
Last Offered Fall 2023
Division I Writing Skills
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

The goal of this course is to teach you how to write a clear, well-argued, intelligible and interesting analytical paper. We will spend most of our class time actively engaged in a variety of techniques to improve your critical reasoning and analytical skills, both written and oral. Though the skills you learn will be applicable to other disciplines, and a central purpose of the course is to improve all aspects of your writing, this is a literature class, designed partly to prepare you for upper level courses in the English Department, so we will, therefore, spend equal time on the interpretation of literature, in this case, contemporary American autobiographical fiction. All readers fall prey to it: the autobiographical fallacy–the conflation of author and narrator. Writers know readers are susceptible to it. A course designed to explore the uses and abuses of the autobiographical fallacy by contemporary American authors. How do writers of autobiographical fiction take advantage of this tendency? What role does the autobiographical play in a writer’s authority? What’s the relationship between reader and writer in autobiographical writing? What do writers of such fiction want from a reader, and how does encouraging the autobiographical fallacy get them what they want? Reading list may include: Tim O’Brien, Yiyun Li, Junot Diaz, ZZ Packer, Lorrie Moore, Amy Hempel, Nam Le, Dorothy Allison, Ocean Vuong.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 1820
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Several short essays, most with drafts and revisions, one student-led class discussion, written comments on published and student work, active participation in discussions.
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Preference to First Year students who do not have a 5 on the AP Lit exam or a 6 or 7 on the IB and have not previously taken a 100-level course.
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills
WS Notes: Five papers, of varying lengths, most of which will go through multiple drafts. Extensive time spent in and out of class on every stage of the writing process. Opportunities to meet with professor outside of class at any stage of writing. Revision built into the course assignments. Commenting on published and peer work as a way to further develop one's own editorial eye.
Attributes: ENGL Literary Histories C

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