Fall 2008
Fully Enrolled

HUMS 614
Personalizing History


09/08/2008 - 12/12/2008
Thursday 05:30 PM - 08:30 PM

285 Court Street

How much are we shaped by our historical times and places? How much power do we have to make our historical conditions respond to our needs and desires? These are the questions at the foundation of this course. We will examine these questions and others in the literary genre of the immigrant memoir, where they are particularly crucial. The course includes both memoir-writing and memoir-reading. We will construct narratives about our times and selves in a series of writing workshops, using such techniques as timed responses to prompts, the effectiveness of the catalogue, the intertwining of narratives, the description of place, the choice of language, etc. There will be some exercises where you will be asked to research specific aspects of your times and places. For example, you might be asked to research and write about such questions as: when and where were you born, what were the major cultural or political currents of that time, and how was your early childhood influenced by them? Or you may be asked to bring in a photograph of someone important in your personal history and write about that person.

We will read memoirs by various writers, including Richard Rodriguez, Danzy Senna, Chitra Divakaruni, Gish Jen, Jill Nelson, Eva Hoffman, and others, in order to learn from their technique as well as to understand their concerns about history and the self.

Our writing will be critiqued by the other students throughout the course, and a final project, designed in consultation with the instructor, will complete the course.

Enrollment is limited to 15 students. This course is not open to auditors.

For the first class meeting, please write about your names: what do they mean? Why did your parents name you in this way? What are the histories of your names? How do they create, conflict with, or reflect you?

Indira Karamcheti B.A., M.A., Ph.D. University of California, Santa Barbara) is associate professor of English and American Studies. Her teaching and research interests include postcolonial literature and theory, the literature of the South Asian diaspora, and the writing of ethnic and racial minorities in the U.S. She has written on such authors as Salman Rushdie, Anita Desai, Simone Schwarz-Bart, and Aime Cesaire. Click here for more information about Indira Karamcheti and click here for more information about her work.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 15

Texts to purchase for this course:
Situation and the Story: The Art of the Personal Narrative (Vivian Gornick; Farrar, Strauss and Giroux)

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