This fall, I’ll be teaching an Introduction to Autobiography course, a course I pushed through curriculum last year after we did a year-long survey of students to find out classes might interest them. Our thought was to add spice to our standard survey and introduction to literature offerings to take advantage of the increase in enrollment (and, not incidentally, get back the many students who were using Art History and Communication courses to fulfill their general education Humanities’ requirement).
[In case you’re interested, the most requested course idea was The Bible as Literature, but the one faculty member in our department willing and able to teach such a course, put it off another year, understandably, after a few over the top fundamentalist students acted out on campus last year (remember my colleague’s student who would bring a cross and rosary beads to class, praying with them as s/he lectured?) ]
So, autobiography. It’s been a challenge creating this 10-week course for non-majors, since there is so much I want to do, but I don’t want to terrify them–I want them to enjoy the immersion in this contradictory genre.
Here’s what I have planned, and yes, it’s ambitious: After an initial discussion of exactly what autobiography IS, we’ll start with an historical overview and an introduction to some of the theoretical debates and different modes of the genre. Students will read excerpts from several historical autobiographies, two full-length childhood-centered contemporary memoirs, a graphic memoir (Persepolis and excerpts from Maus and Fun Home), and about a dozen excerpts from other contemporary memoirs on subjects ranging from addiction to religion (I know, a risk). We’ll also spend time on other modes of autobiography such as audio/video, diaries and letters, and blogs. [One final project choice is, indeed, for students to keep a blog all term.]
Here’s where I hope you all come in. I need me some blogs. Yes, I read dozens of blogs each week, all neatly alphabetized in my Google Reader, but they are all, you know, about academics. I know that Roxie’s typist is having her students read her own blog for her course this fall on blogging (which I can’t wait to read about), but no, I won’t be offering up this particular blog for their reading pleasure. Besides, I want them to discover blogs that are personal (so not just politics or celebrity gossip) but also of interest to them.
Have any ideas for blogs that are autobiographical in nature and that might appeal to our non-traditional students, ages 16-65? Is there an index of sorts I could direct students to? Please let me know in the comments.
Kindle Update: My new chocolate Kindle cover has a paperback book inside it now since it looked so sad, so lonely. Estimated delivery of the new Kindle itself is now mid-late September.
Well, Ree Drummond’s is getting made into a movie, does that count?
Petite Anglaise could be a good one: petiteanglaise.com.
She no longer blogs, unfortunately, but the blog brought her a book contract (after she got fired for blogging) and the first book she published, also called Petite Anglaise, is something of a rewrite of the blog.
Thank you, NicoleAndMaggie and Casey, for your quick suggestions! I’ll check those out immediately.
Sounds like a cool class, Annie Em. No brilliant suggestions to pass along on blogs, perhaps because pretty much every blog we regularly read (and write?) and even the ones we randomly stumble upon arguably qualify as autobiographical. Oh, point of clarification on Moose’s blogging class: She isn’t requiring her students to read Roxie’s World, though she refers to it — in a shy, hesitant sort of way — in class discussions when her practice/experience seems relevant to the work the students are doing. You may have noticed that she hasn’t blogged about the class yet on RW. She probably will, but is still sort of feeling her way on managing some of the boundary issues involved in the brave new pedagogical world she has entered this term. Good luck with your class!
Thanks for visiting, Roxie, and yes,sorry about that mistake: I should not have said “requiring” (though how could those students NOT want to read RW!!).
Please take this as my second plea for some blogging about the course, however general. Obviously there’s an article in that course, too.
Almost all of the blogs I prefer to read are also autobiographical (or “raw” rather than “cooked” a distinction made by Michael Berube), but they are all by women in academia. I just wanted to give my students more of a variety of blogs to choose from.
I feel like with all the blogs I check daily, I should have some suggestions, but I am stumped. All the blogs on my list are either academic blogs, or have some other purpose, like home decoration, travel, fashion, music, with only brief autobiographical glimpses. So, the only suggestion (and take this with a grain of salt) is dooce.com, which I guess is a family blog. I kept seeing it reference when I was on another website. Anyways, it is written by a woman who blogs about her family…I have actually never read it, but it did get her a book deal about her battle with postpartum depression, which she also blogged about.
EA, That’s exactly what happened when I went thru my blogroll, so thank you for the link (I’m also hoping that some enterprising student will take on the challenge of helping me discover other personal blogs!).
This may seem odd, but do you know the “Daily Coyote”? It’s by a woman who lives with a coyote she’s raised (because she was his only chance for survival). So mostly, theres a lot of biography of Charlie (the coyote), but it’s also very autobiographical about herself as someone who’s taken the responsibility to raise a coyote and care for him. It’s got GREAT photographs, too.
It seems like I can never resist your requests over at Feministe.
I’ve got a couple of friends who do blogging that might work for the course:
Beth’s Adventures. Her posts range from nice travelogues to serious introspection and she’s got a lengthy archive to follow that document her literal and figurative journeys.
Mundane Doesn’t Describe It. He doesn’t blog anymore but there are a lot posts there and he’s an excellent storyteller.
Thank you Bardiac (sounds fabulous!) and welcome back and thank you Andi! I’m bookmarking all now to check out in the morning since my Kindle FINALLY ARRIVED TONIGHT (those UPS dudes work late!).