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In this class, we will examine a range of memoir, autobiography and biography.  We will consider the purpose, challenges and pleasures of life writing.  We will look at resources available to the biographer and consider how these have changed with the advent of the internet.  We’ll discuss questions of celebrity and obscurity, of iconography and afterlives.  For the final project, students will have the option to undertake a biographical project linked to the Professor’s digital humanities project, the Modernist Archives Publishing Project (  Authors/subjects may include Ta-Nehishi Coates, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Sylvia Plath and Helen Macdonald, with theoretical readings by Hermione Lee, Michael Holroyd and Janet Malcolm.

Virginia Woolf

This class is focused on the life and work of English writer Virginia Woolf (1882-1941). Texts will include To the Lighthouse, Orlando, A Room of One’s Own, Roger Fry: A Biography, Flush and The Waves. We’ll use our focus on Virginia Woolf to consider the range of approaches and research methodologies available when studying a single author and a single oeuvre. Topics will include biography and book art.

Contemporary British Writing

This course introduces students to contemporary British fiction, non-fiction and film and TV. We’ll explore these works from a variety of perspectives: literary, historical, and socio-cultural. Writers will include Robert McFarlane, Phillip Hoare, W.G. Sebald, Ian McEwan, Zadie Smith, Caryl Phillips and Kazuo Ishiguro.

The Graphic Novel

In this class we will explore the evolution of the graphic novel genre (or sequential art), its subject matter and its form. We’ll consider visual storytelling and we’ll learn strategies for visual and textual analysis. Texts will be wide-ranging in terms of focus, including stories of family life, coming of age, race and sexuality, immigration, politics and autobiography.Titles will include Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, Riad Sattouf’s Arab of the Future, Marguerite Abouet and Clement Ouberie’s Aya: Life in Yop City, Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, and Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese. We’ll read critical work by Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics), Hilary Chute (Why Comics? Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics), Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean); and Jonathan Lethem (ed. Best American Comics 2015), among others.

Immigrant Fictions: Belonging and Placelessness in Contemporary European Literature

This class will explore the contemporary landscape of immigration in twenty first century Europe from the perspective of novelists and poets.  We’ll explore the history of immigration since about 1950 as a means to understand the current social, cultural, political situation.  Issues will include the passage, the challenges and pleasure of biculturalism, bilingualism, issues such as belonging, translation and exile.