The “I” of the Beholder (LIT4386.01)

Franny Choi

From James Baldwin’s writing on Richard Wright, to Maggie Nelson’s Argonauts, to Hanif Abdurraqib’s essays on pop music, many writers of nonfiction have taken up the task of looking at works of art, media, and literature by first looking inward. This 2-credit class will explore autotheory, first-person cultural criticism, and other critical writing that employs a distinctly personal bent. How do our personal histories inform our critical practice, and how are we (as writers and as people) shaped by the process of looking? We will read, analyze, and discuss 1-2 essays per week, and explore writing with this approach on our own.

Learning Outcomes:
- Read a wide range of autotheory and first-person criticism, with a focus on contemporary works
- Consider first-person theorizing as a feminist practice shaped by race, class, and coloniality
- Discuss artistic and rhetorical devices employed by writers of creative nonfiction
- Write critical essays that engage lived experience as a source of knowledge

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Submit up to 3 pages of writing that relates in some way to the themes of the course (for example, a personal essay, a critical essay, an ekphrastic poem), as well as one paragraph about why you are interested in taking this course (500 words max) via this form. Submissions are due by May 15, 2023.
Corequisites: Students are required to attend all Literature Evenings and Poetry at Bennington events this term, commonly held at 7pm on most Wednesday evenings.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 2
W 4:10PM - 6:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: 4000 , All courses , Fully In-Person , Literature , Two Credit
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