After a hiatus of six years, next semester I return to teaching autobiography. The way in which we make stories of our selves very much constituted my early publishing, whether my first article on the American Lebenslauf (memoir) or the translation of a collection of them for what has been my “best-seller”, Moravian Women’s Memoirs. Since those early days, I have become fascinated by what I call the other side of memoir, how we reach the point of writing our selves; and in my seminar next semester we will be exploring that question to become not only critics of the genre but also authors.
It is not easy to write the self. There are uncomfortable questions of authenticity, insight, truth. So we look for examples of this uncomfortable process in authors whose autobiographical texts are not personal hagiographies or political hero-stories (although we read those too); we examine the making of who we are as being inextricably bound up with how we live in and with history. In German, this concatenation of narrative and time is conveniently bound together in the one word, Geschichte. Continue reading “Writing the Self”