Writing the Self: Autobiography in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Ref: C2341680

Examining a diverse range of autobiographies, the course will explore how lives are formed into stories, or in some cases, 'anti-stories', and the different assumptions about self, identity and memory which they imply. It will also consider the complex motivations for writing autobiography, alongside the extent to which autobiography blends together fiction and non-fiction, story and history. The autobiographies on the course will be: Jack Common's Kiddar's Luck, Marguerite Duras' The Lover, and Hilary Mantel's Giving up the Ghost. These life accounts are written in strikingly different styles and we will examine how each book's style and form bear upon their treatment of memory and identity. We will also consider how class, gender, childhood and experiences of trauma are represented in these autobiographies.

Course aim

The course will explore different kinds of autobiographical writing and the assumptions about self and memory which they imply. It will also consider how we might best categorize autobiography: as non-fiction, fiction or a mixture of the two.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • No particular skills or experience are needed, just an interest in literature and a willingness to explore ideas.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • discuss the artistic, cultural and political significance of different ways of writing a life account
  • identify the reasons for thinking of autobiography as an ambiguous form of writing, placed somewhere between fiction and non-fiction
  • select passages which illustrate key themes and questions
  • make connections between form, style and the treatment of memory and identity
  • participate in readings, discussions and debates with others

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • Activities may include tutor presentation, small group work, working in pairs, class discussions, short tasks and research.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • You will need to obtain copies of the set texts (Jack Common's Kiddar's Luck, Marguerite Duras' The Lover and Hilary Mantel's Giving up the Ghost) and perhaps keep a folder for keeping notes and handouts.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • No pre-reading is necessary but it may be useful to begin reading the first book on the course, which will be Jack Common's Kiddar's Luck.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course information sheet

Writing the Self: Autobiography in the 20th and 21st Centuries

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This course has been cancelled.

Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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