ASRC 4212

Course information provided by the Courses of Study 2017-2018.

Black women first began to shape the genre of autobiography during the antebellum era slavery.  They were prolific in developing the genre of autobiography throughout the twentieth century, to the point of emerging as serial autobiographers in the case of Maya Angelou.  Significantly, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first autobiography of six by Angelou, along with autobiographies by a range of other black women writers, helped to launch the renaissance in black women's literature and criticism in African American literature during the 1970s.  In this course, we will focus on how black women have continued to write and share their personal stories in the new millennium by examining autobiographies that they have produced in the first years of the twenty-first century, and more broadly, the impact of this writing on twenty-first century African American literature.  In the process, we will draw on a range of critical and theoretical perspectives, including Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson, Angela Ards, and Frances Smith Foster, Joanne M. Braxton, among others.  Among the works that we will examine are Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother:  A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, Jennifer Teege, My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me:  A Black Woman Discovers Her Nazi Past; Margo Jefferson, Negroland:  A Memoir; Elizabeth Alexander, The Light of the World:  A Memoir; Misty Copeland, Life in Motion:  An Unlikely Ballerina; Janet Mock, Redefining Realness:  My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More; Bettina Aptheker, Intimate Politics:  How I Grew Up Red, Fought for Free Speech and Became a Feminist Rebel; Angela Nissel, Mixed: My Life in Black and White; Beverly Johnson, The Face that Changed it All:  A Memoir; Nene Leakes, Never Make the Same Mistake Twice:  Lessons on Love and Life Learned the Hard Way; and Phaedra Parks, Secrets of the Southern Belle: How to Be Nice, Work Hard, Look Pretty, Have Fun, and Never Have an Off Moment.  Students will have opportunities to produce research related to autobiography as well as the opportunity to do some autobiographical writing.  The impact of transgender women such as Janet Mock, along with transracial women such as the Rachel Dolezal, the cross-cultural and popular impact of Piper Kerman's Orange is the New Black:  My Year in a Women's Prison, and the autobiographical song lyrics of Beyoncé in projects such as Formation and Lemonade, will also help us to ponder the innovative, distinct and diverse body of work shaping black women's autobiography.

When Offered Fall.

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Enrollment Information
Syllabi: none
  • 17205ASRC 4212  SEM 101

  • In Fall 2017 this course will run as The Rabinor Seminar in American Studies.