English 165

Special Topics: Self Creation--Confession, Memoir, Autobiography

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
4 Spring 2012 Danner, Mark
Danner, Mark
M 3-6 300 Wheeler


In confession we create the self. Confession is premised on truth - ultimate truth, the truth that exposes everyday truth as pretense, pose and mendacity. To create a confession is to create a new self: a self cleansed, reborn, redeemed. To create a portrait built entirely on the pretense of ultimate truth demands an entirely other category of lie. The "true life" confession - generally a tale of dysfunction, alcoholic, chemical, sexual - and the ancillary pursuit of exposing its accompanying falsehoods, is arguably our most popular form of contemporary literature. These constructions, from confession to memoir to autobiography, have their own traditions and we will seek to analyze and trace them in this seminar, while now and then trying our hand at a bit of self creation. Readings will be drawn from, among others, Augustine, Rousseau, Franklin, Newman, Mill, DeQuincey, Adams, Stein, Lawrence, Kafka, Levi, Nabokov, Harrison, Malcolm, Eggers, Karr and Richards. Along with the reading there will be some constructing of confessions, truthful, mendacious and fanciful.

This course is open to English majors only.

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