Reading and Writing: Autofiction (LIT4522.01)

Benjamin Anastas

The term “autofiction” originated in France in the late 1970s to describe a certain kind of knowing, renegade, mock-heroic school of autobiographical fiction that fell somewhere between the nihilistic experimentalism of William Burroughs and the lavish literary recall of Marcel Proust. It was “writing before or after literature,” Doubrovsky claimed, meaning that its artistic project is so instinctive and yet so unfamiliar that it somehow lives outside of what we have come to call “literature,” and the ordinary critical terms we have to describe its relatives (autobiographical fiction, bildungsroman, thinly veiled memoir, etc.) no longer apply. It is a fiction, Doubrovsky claimed, “of events and facts strictly real.” Right now we’re living through an explosion of autofiction, and we’ll read widely in this relatively new genre (Rachel Cusk, Sheila Heti, Chris Kraus, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Tao Lin) while also reading important precursors from Harriet E. Wilson to Curzio Malaparte. Students will write their own works of autofiction in varying lengths and styles and refine them in regular workshops.

Learning Outcomes:
-To gain a familiarity with a wide range of literary texts from different countries, time periods, and traditions;
-To interpret these texts using a range of critical tools;
-To communicate ideas clearly in both discussion and in writing;
-To collaborate with peers on goal-oriented projects.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Interested students should submit either a critical or creative writing sample (5 pp.) via this form by May 5, 2022. Admitted students will be notified by email on May 10, 2022. All students may apply for multiple 4000-level Reading and Writing Courses in the same term, but, once accepted, may only enroll in one 4000-level Reading and Writing course per term.
Corequisites: Students are required to attend all Literature Evenings, Bennington Translates, and Poetry at Bennington events this term, commonly held at 7pm on most Wednesday evenings.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
W 10:00AM - 11:50AM & W 2:10PM - 4:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: All courses , Fully In-Person , Literature
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