Lifewriting: Autobiography in Theory and Practice
“It must all be as if spoken by a character in a novel.” (Roland Barthes)
What is autobiography? Does autobiography describe, create, or deconstruct an identity? If any story we choose to tell must in some way be a story –details omitted consciously or unconsciously, memory unreliable, our own eyes used, our perspective imposed– what makes one text a “real” life story, while another text is fiction?
We will study various theories of what makes a text an autobiography: Form? A pact between writer and reader? Intent? The elements of a single life organized into a whole? Or are there no rules? If so, when, if ever, is the reader justified in looking for a writer’s life within a work? Is every person comfortable with the idea of writing a book driven by the word “I”? What are other choices writers have made?
We will redefine truth-telling. We will question traditions of coherent representation. We will read a variety of lives shaped into words by writers. In some of the works, the writer agrees to tell their life story, while in others, the writer’s life sneaks to the surface, oozes around the “real” story of the book.
You will learn to read some tough theory carefully and critically; you will personalize the syllabus by choosing and adding in one memoir or autobiography you would like to read and study; you will do some of your own autobiographical writing to understand the stakes involved; and you will bring your own ideas to difficult questions like, “Are we allowed to evaluate literary quality when we are reading a life?” and “How do we ‘story’ our lives while living them?
Jenny Pyke, Ph.D., teaches classes in 18th and 19th-century British literature and culture, 20th-century Scottish literature, and autobiography and memoir. Her research is concerned with artistic representations of feeling, particularly texts that present feeling and sympathy as overwhelming and ineffable. Her publications include articles about Charles Dickens’s relationship to taxidermy, about contemporary art and roadkill taxidermy, about cartography and map metaphors in modern Scottish novels, and about the emotional narratives of objects in film. She has also written about Victorian crime and television adaptation for the Journal of Victorian Culture Online. Her current book project focuses on women in the world of 20th– and 21st-century rock music who are called “muses” but are all creators and collaborators themselves.
Rhetoric of Social Movements
Each of us has seen a wrong that we thought should be righted. Usually, we grumble and move along. Sometimes, selfishly, each of us acts to fix it for ourselves. The Rhetoric of Social Movement engages those rare moments when we are convinced to right those wrongs more for others than ourselves.
Social movements are broad alliances of people who are connected through their shared interest in social change. Social Movement occurs across the political spectrum when people advocate for a particular social change or organize to oppose a social change.
This class will engage the rhetorical dynamics in American social movements. We begin with an understanding of the Public. After understanding who we are and how we move as the American public, the class will begin with the classic movements of the 20th century and then move to student presentations of Contemporary Movements.
Nate French, Ph.D is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Communication at Wake Forest University. His major areas of research are in rhetorical studies. He is the Director of the Magnolia Scholar’s program, which began in 2009 and identifies students who are the first in the families to attend college to make sure that they take advantage of every opportunity available at Wake Forest.
Doing Well by Doing Good: Nonprofit and Social Enterprise Law and Policy
Social entrepreneurs and corporate leaders are blending business with philanthropy to meet market demands and solve social issues. Actors across the spectrum, from nonprofit to benefit to for-profit entities, are seeking to make social change, sometimes while also seeking personal wealth. In this course, students will read, view and discuss a diverse set of materials to learn the history, role, function, funding, and limits of nonprofit, for-profit, and social benefit organizations and, as a capstone enterprise, present performance analysis and recommendations of an entity and its actions in striving to fulfill its mission. The primary purposes of this course are to introduce core substantive principles and to help students build capacities to read diverse texts, consider different perspectives, write concisely, and speak precisely. No prior business or nonprofit knowledge or experience is required.
Barbara Lentz is an award-winning teacher, advisor, and attorney who brings real-life experiences and scenarios to help students think creatively and work collaboratively. Professor Lentz earned both the Jurist Excellence in Teaching (selected by students) and Innovative Teaching Awards for teaching in higher education. Her courses include Nonprofit Law & Policy, Art Law, Cultural Heritage (taught in London), and Historic Preservation, as well as several nonprofit courses for students and certificate programs for nonprofit professionals. Lentz serves on nonprofit and social enterprise Boards, including the National Advisory Council of the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, and co-founded the Forsyth Backpack Program. She is a graduate of Duke University and the University Of Michigan Law School.
If you have questions about the Liberal Arts Studies M.A. program, please contact us so we can help you!
April Strader Bullin
Liberal Arts Studies M.A./Lifelong Learning