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LibrlSt 721: Special Topics in Liberal Studies
Bruce Fetter, Professor of History

Autobiographies and History

Course Description
An individual's autobiography presents only a public face, a carefully chosen persona for the world. When supplemented by other evidence, however, it can enable us to get behind the mask. This course will apply historical criticism to autobiographical accounts through a series of explorations into the author's life, presented orally and in writing. Subjects will be restricted to people born within the past 200 years, but unrestricted with regard to culture, nationality, or current historical prominence.

After an initial orientation, participants will choose, in consultation with the instructor, a book-length autobiography to be read and compared with other evidence relating to the life of the author. Topics to be considered include the geographic setting of the author's childhood, sociological and anthropological approaches to family life in that region and segment of society, the educational system there, the author's orientation in the politics of the day, and reviews and responses to the autobiography after publication. Several short preliminary presentations will serve as constituent parts of a longer general essay evaluating the autobiography, due at the end of the semester.

Wed 6:30-9:10pm
Curtin Hall 939


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