Teaching Life Writing in the 21st Century

Life writing includes the genres of (auto-)biography, memoir, confession, diaries, journals, and social media posts. It is a way of life, a creative practice, and a performative invitation of past, present, and future selves. As an essential skill of self-representation, life writing is an ideal mode for students and teachers to explore the roles of (self-)knowledge, memory, time, authority, and experience in creating individual and collective identities. This seminar will engage key figures across the span of life writing, including Frederick Douglass. Selected pre-assigned foundational texts will prepare participants to write their own lives through guided exercises that can be shared with students. Finally, we will experiment with innovative tools for life writing in the 21st century, including voice-based composition.