Latina/o Autobiography and Memoir


This seminar considers cultural and intellectual approaches to the construction and emergence of individual self-awareness and self-reference, exploring a variety of representations of the autobiographical voice, textual authority, and the boundaries between fact and fiction. These acts and discursive manifestations of individual life experience will be studied from the sociocultural and political modes of the U.S. Latino and Latina category. Accordingly, we will ask: In what ways do the stories of Latino and Latina cultural workers reconstruct factual and fictional modes of their subject formation and distinctive moments in U.S. society? And what do these articulations alter in relation to "unifying" values, traditions, and sociopolitical memberships? Of particular concern is how these cultural producers live and literarily represent both the America and the Latin/o America of their time. Through autobiography, memoir, literary criticism, theoretical readings, as well as visual and poetic approaches to subjectivity, we will interrogate how self, place, and "community" are negotiated. For our critical purposes, we will also deliberate on the following concerns: How is "Latino" or "Latina" lived experience theorized, and do these personal accounts introduce new forms of knowledge? What connections can one find between the shifting autobiographical ("Latino/a") "I" and the larger social world "out there"? Do the social and discursive spaces of these works provide points of agreements on "Americanness" as much as "Latinoness"?  Instructor:  Claudia Milian

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