English 180A

Autobiography: Chicanx Autobiographies

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2018 Gonzalez, Marcial
TTh 11-12:30 note new location: 242 Dwinelle

Book List

Acosta, Oscar Zeta: The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo; Cantu, Norma: Canicula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la frontera; Castillo, Ana: Black Dove; Castillo-Guilbault, Rose: Farmworker's Daughter; Gonzalez, Rigoberto: Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa; Ruiz, Ronald: The Lawyer; Trevino Hart, Elva: Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child; Urrea, Luis Alberto: The Devil's Highway


The autobiography is a problematic narrative form. In telling their stories, Chicanx autobiographers reconstruct the past partly by relying on unreliable memory, creating the illusion of historical accuracy through the imagination. Chicanx autobiographers, however, do not create this illusion cynically; their stories emerge from the need to offer an alternative to hegemonic biographical narratives that promise transparent representation but exclude or misrepresent Chicanx history and subjectivity. Thus, to a large degree, Chicanx autobiographies disrupt the claims of conventional self-referential narratives as we have understood them. And yet, they are nevertheless able to convey some truths about history and personal experience, if not through their surface narratives then through the tensions and contradictions that take shape in the construction of the narrative itself—or one might say, at the level of form. To supplement our study of Chicanx autobiographies, we’ll read short works of history and literary criticism. We’ll also make an effort to understand the similarities and differences between autobiography and other narrative forms, such as the novel.

The English Department is working on expanding the class size for this offering. If you would like to enroll in this course after it fills, please put yourself on the wait list and if we are able to accommodate you, you will be added as soon as possible (no later than the first week of classes). 

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