T C 301 • Emerging Selves - W
3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Writers have always employed an ingenious array of narrative strategies to construct and project their sense of an autobiographical self, but historically that task has entailed an additional cultural challenge--if not an outright psychological impossibility--for women writers worldwide. Although the male autobiographical impulse did not fully begin to manifest itself in Western culture until Rousseau (notwithstanding the anomaly of St. Augustine), women still tended to confine themselves to the less overt (and egoistic) modes of the diary, letter, memoir (often purporting to be about another subject), and fiction. It is the goal of this course to examine the autobiographical impulse in women's writing by exploring the concept of the individualistic self vs. the sense of self as a part of community (and duty)--and the ways in which that communal self can both partake of humankind and participate in self-actualization.
We will begin by reading Carolyn Heilbrun's Writing a Woman's Life (1988) and conclude with Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own (1929). In between, we will be tracing women's autobiographical writings from Sappho to the present, including some of the recently recorded experiences of the African American, the Chinese American, and the Chicana. Although members of the class may have read individual titles from the course list before, they will now have the opportunity to read them critically within the context of other women's writing--itself likely to be a first-time experience. Finally, each student will be responsible for introducing to the rest of the class a single work not on the reading list and "outside" its cultural curve; these titles will constitute a multicultural list for future (and I hope immediate!) reading.
About the Professor
With graduate degrees from Stanford University and UCLA, Professor Carol MacKay specializes in Victorian fiction, Women's Studies, and autobiography. She is the author of Soliloquy in Nineteenth-Century Fiction and the editor of Dramatic Dickens, which grew out of her 1986 international conference here at UT on Dickens and the theater. The winner of the Chancellor's Award for Outstanding New Teacher in 1981 and the Harry Ransom Teaching Award in 1992, Professor MacKay was elected to the Distinguished Teaching Academy in 2003. Her most recent book is entitled Creative Negativity: Four Victorian Exemplars of the Female Quest. She loves to swim at Barton Springs Pool, and she confesses to being an ailurophile.
Writing and class discussion will constitute the primary activities of this course. Students will write three papers--the first two of approximately 3-5 pp. each, the last a more extended paper of about 8-10 pp.--and deliver two oral reports. All papers will receive extensive critical commentary and will be discussed in office-hour consultation; 75% of course grade will be based on these papers. The remaining percentage points will be satisfied by the oral reports and regular class participation/attendance. All texts but one are at the University Coop; the anthology will be at Book Woman, 918 W. 12th Street, Austin 78703 (472-2785).
Poetry packet: To be determined
Selections: Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love (1373); Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe (1436-38); St. Teresa, The Life of Teresa of Jesus (1562-65) Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847) Harriet E. Wilson, Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black (1859) Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper (1899) Susan Cahill (ed.), Writing Women's Lives: An Anthology of Autobiographical Narratives by Twentieth-Century American Women Writers (1994) May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude (1973) Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts (1975) Sandra Cisneros, House on Mango Street (1983) bell hooks, Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood (1984) Elva Trevino Hart, Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child (1999)